Lemon drops have been a popular hard candy since production in Europe began in the late 18th century. Traditionally, lemon drops were sold at drugstores and apothecary shops as a medicinal product to mask unpleasant tastes. According the Nut Factory’s candy history, the lemon drop was a traditional candy genteel women sucked discreetly during afternoon gatherings.
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Excessive use of hard candy may be detrimental to your oral health. Consult with your dentist and doctor before using lemon drops to alleviate discomfort or treat conditions.
Radiation and Chemotherapy
Cancer patients whose salivary glands are damaged by radiation may find that sucking on sour candy, such as lemon drops, increases salivation. Sucking lemon drops during radiation treatment is an intervention that may increase salivary flow and decrease the speed at which radiation reaches the parotid gland, according to a Medscape Today article by Dr. Susan Mandel, M.P.H. of the University of Pennsylvania.
Alterations in Taste
The National Cancer Institute explains that patients undergoing cancer therapy may experience taste changes or develop sudden dislikes for certain foods. Alterations in taste can be related to unknown effects of cancer, radiation, dental problems, or infection. A metallic or bitter taste in the mouth may be caused by chemotherapy medications, such as cytotoxic drugs. Sugar-free lemon drops may help cancer patients manage changes in taste sensations.
Saliva is important to oral health as a lubricant that helps control plaque and protect teeth from bacterial fungal or viral infections. It facilitates the ability to swallow food, and it enhances taste. Xerostomia -- decreased saliva and dry mouth -- can be a serious condition that is difficult to treat. Sucking lemon drops and other sour candies may provide some relief from mild xerostomia.
According to the Journal of Dental Research, if you have a dry mouth, use lemon drops instead of water or gum. Drinking large amounts of water is not recommended, because it flushes away saliva. Chewing gum increases saliva flow to one teaspoonful per minute, lasting only one minute. After 20 minutes of gum chewing, saliva flow has dropped by 80 percent. Sucking on a lemon drop maintains the flow of saliva at a teaspoonful per minute for the full 20-minute period.
People with Sjögren's syndrome exhibit excessive dryness of the eyes, mouth, and other mucous membranes. Women are diagnosed more frequently than men with this condition. One symptom is parotid gland inflammation, which can be soothed with massage, warm compresses and stimulation of salivary flow by using sugarless lemon drops or other hard candies.
A folk remedy to alleviate nausea that works for some mothers-to-be is to use something lemon-flavored or citrus-flavored, including lemonade, bitter lemon, sections of orange or grapefruit, or hard candy, such as lemon drops or orange lifesavers.
HIV Oral Health Problems
In a 2003 U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration publication, “A Clinical Guide on Supportive and Palliative Care for People with HIV/AIDS,” Drs. David I. Rosenstein and Gary T. Chiodo wrote that HIV positive patients face many challenges, including oral health problems. Some antiretroviral medications decrease salivary flow and lead to cavities, infections and abscesses. Artificial saliva products can be helpful, but using them as frequently as necessary may be impractical, and many patients prefer to use sugar-free lemon drops, which some health practitioners recommend as a palliative and pleasant substitute for artificial saliva medication.