Lemon sucking

acid erosion
This central American habit can lead to massive erosion of tooth enamel and dentin.  Below is a picture of the worst case that I have ever seen.  Unfortunately, the body compensates for the loss of eroded tooth structure by erupting the teeth further into the mouth and keeping them in contact with the opposing teeth.  This makes it expensive and time consuming to restore these teeth properly (examples here).
The red circles show areas where the erosion is so bad that the entire tooth structure in that area is gone
Enamel will start to dissolve at a pH of about 5.5 (1).  The lower the pH the faster the erosion will occur (2).  Lemon juice has a pH of about 2 and at that pH it does not take long for damage to really start adding up.  Listed below are some pH levels for reference.
pH level of common liquids
pH 0 – battery acid
pH 1 – hydrochloric acid
pH 2 – lemon juice, vinegar
pH 3 – grapefruit
pH 4 – tomato juice
pH 5 – black coffee
pH 7 – fresh water, milk
pH 9 – baking soda
pH 11 – ammonia
pH 13 – bleach
pH 14 – liquid drain cleaner
Bryan Bauer, DDS, FAGD