If you have been diagnosed with anemia, your doctor may have prescribed an iron supplement. While many iron, or ferrous sulfate supplements are available in tablet form, some are prescribed in their liquid forms.
Iron suspensions can lead to problems with your teeth and gums, and while these are usually reversed once the liquid iron has been discontinued, some may be permanent. Here are three ways liquid iron can damage your teeth and what you can do about them:
While iron that comes in tablet form usually doesn't contribute to tooth staining, iron supplements that come in liquids or suspensions do. Iron stains are particularly stubborn and may require professional bleaching in order to regain your original tooth color.
If your doctor has recommended that you take liquid iron, dilute with water per the packaging instructions and then sip the liquid through a straw. While some of the iron may still make contact with your teeth, it will probably be in such small amounts that dental staining will not occur.
If you take liquid iron on a long-term basis, you may be at a heightened risk for developing a severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Iron can lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease, and if not treated, can lead to gum disease and dental erosion.
Reflux disease refers to the migrating of stomach acid into the upper digestive tract and esophagus. If the acid reaches the throat and mouth, and makes contact with your gums, they may become swollen, painful, and bleed.
If periodontitis is not treated as soon as possible, tissue destruction may occur on your gums. Also, the bones that support your teeth may become weak or damaged as a result of severe acid reflux disease. If you develop acid reflux as a result of your liquid iron, talk to your physician about taking an over-the-counter acid blocker or antacid.
Liquid iron may also lead to carious teeth, or dental cavities. The iron can wear down your dental enamel, and when this happens, your teeth are not protected by infection-causing bacteria. This can lead to an infection of the tooth root and abscesses .
If you experience dental erosion as a result of your liquid iron supplement, talk to your dentist, who can recommend a toothpaste specifically formulated to help strengthen your tooth enamel. Once the enamel becomes strong again, your risk for infection and cavities will diminish.
If you take liquid iron supplements because of anemia, work with both your dentist and physician to develop a plan of care that will help protect your oral cavity from dental erosion, gum disease, and tooth staining.