If you have been diagnosed with anemia, your health care provider may have recommended that you take supplemental prescription iron. While taking iron will help treat iron-deficiency anemia, it can wreak havoc with your tooth enamel, leading to dental staining. Here are a couple of ways in which you can minimize tooth staining related to iron supplements.
Use A Straw
Iron is better absorbed by your body when taken in liquid form. Because liquid iron, or ferrous sulfate, can severely stain your teeth, it is important to use a straw when consuming it. Liquid iron is often diluted with water, however, even in it's in a diluted state when contact is made with the teeth, discoloration can occur. If your liquid iron does make contact with your teeth despite your use of straws, rinse your mouth with water after taking it. This will help remove the residual iron from your dental enamel and will reduce your risk of tooth staining.
While supplement iron is often best absorbed when taken in a liquid state, tablets are also effective in treating iron deficiencies. Taking your iron in tablet form will reduce your risk for tooth staining, however, your doctor will need to carefully monitor your iron levels to ensure that the tablets are as effective in treating your anemia as liquid iron. If your blood tests reveal low iron stores despite taking the tablets, your health care provider may recommend that you stop taking them and resume your liquid iron regimen.
Professional Teeth Whitening
If using a straw or taking your iron in tablet form fails to prevent dental discoloration, talk to your dentist about professional teeth whitening. In-office bleaching techniques can whiten your teeth by many shades and is especially effective for extrinsic tooth staining.
Extrinsic staining refers to the stains that appear on your outer enamel that is usually caused by highly pigmented foods or beverages, iron supplementation, and smoking. Conversely, intrinsic tooth staining refers to tooth discoloration that has affected the dentin.
This type of staining is often caused by the aging process or from the maternal use of certain antibiotics. If your mother took the antibiotic known as tetracycline when she was pregnant with you, your teeth may have a brownish, yellow, or grey tinge to them.
If your teeth are stained, make an appointment with your dentist. He or she will determine which type of staining you have so that the appropriate teeth whitening procedure can be recommended. If your stains are stubborn or if your dentin has been severely discolored, your dentist may recommend resin crowns or veneers to put over your teeth, which will hide the stains.