Iron supplements are often prescribed to treat iron-deficiency anemia. While vital for health, these supplements can cause some unsightly side effects like staining on teeth. Iron supplement stains range from yellow, brown, orange, grey, green, or black marks. They are caused by excess iron accumulating on the outer enamel layer of teeth. Iron binds to oral bacteria in the mouth, creating a chemical reaction that leads to dark mineral deposits and discoloration. Learn how to remove iron supplement stains from teeth. This guide covers various methods to safely and effectively remove discoloration caused by iron in supplements or vitamins.
While harmless, iron stains can be embarrassing and undermine your smile and self-confidence. Removing them should be a priority not just for cosmetic reasons, but also to maintain good oral hygiene. Severe iron buildup enables more plaque and tartar formation, leading to cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems. Fortunately, you can get rid of iron supplement stains using simple at-home remedies, professional whitening treatments, or through dietary and lifestyle changes.
Causes of Iron Staining on Teeth
To understand how to remove iron stains, it helps to first know what’s causing them in the first place.
Excess Iron Buildup
Iron supplements contain forms of ferrous iron like ferrous sulfate, ferrous fumarate, or ferrous gluconate. When taken orally, some residual iron not absorbed by the body accumulates on the outer enamel layer of teeth.
This iron binds to biofilm – a slimy layer of bacteria naturally present in the mouth. Through this chemical reaction, the iron turns dark, leading to discoloration and stains.
While supplements are the main culprit, foods naturally high in iron can also contribute to staining. Leafy greens, red meat, beans, fortified cereals, and molasses are examples of iron-rich foods.
Cooking with cast iron pots and pans can also raise iron content and lead to teeth stains with prolonged use.
People with a rare genetic disorder called porphyria are prone to excess iron deposits and discoloration of teeth and nails.
In porphyria, abnormalities in hemoglobin cause a buildup of natural iron in the body. This iron accumulates on tooth enamel, causing a dark brown or red tint.
Removing Light Iron Stains from Teeth
If you have minor iron staining, there are some simple at-home remedies you can try before considering professional whitening treatments.
Baking Soda and Peroxide Paste
Making a paste with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide can help lift light iron stains:
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1-2 teaspoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution
- Small bowl and spoon
- Mix the baking soda and peroxide into a smooth paste.
- With a soft-bristled toothbrush, gently brush the paste onto stained teeth.
- Let sit for 2-3 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with water.
- Repeat 1-2 times weekly until stains dissipate.
Baking soda is a mild abrasive that scrubs away stains, while peroxide whitens and disinfects teeth. Use this paste sparingly to avoid wearing down enamel over time.
Drinking with a Straw
Sipping iron supplements through a straw can help prevent contact with teeth, minimizing staining. Place the straw behind your teeth and drink the supplement quickly. Follow with a water rinse.
Monitoring Iron Intake
Excess iron is often the cause of supplement staining. Have your blood iron levels tested regularly and avoid taking more than the recommended daily amount of supplement. Speak to your doctor about appropriate iron dosages.
Eliminating Severe Iron Discoloration on Teeth
For stubborn iron stains or widespread discoloration, you may need professional whitening treatments or dental procedures to restore your smile:
In-Office Laser Teeth Whitening
Dentists can perform in-office laser whitening to quickly and effectively remove iron stains in a single visit. This involves applying a high-concentration hydrogen peroxide gel, then activating it with laser light to penetrate and whiten teeth.
With up to 10 shades of whitening in one session, laser treatments can eliminate severe iron discoloration. Results can last 1-3 years with good oral care.
Dental Scaling and Polishing
This professional dental cleaning removes calculus, plaque, and extrinsic stains like those caused by iron supplements. Your dentist uses specialized dental tools to scale teeth below the gumline, followed by polishing to smooth enamel.
For iron stain removal, request additional time spent polishing stained areas. Avoid foods and drinks that can re-stain teeth afterward.
Stain Removal with 35% Hydrogen Peroxide
Applying 35% carbamide peroxide under the supervision of a dentist can lift intrinsic iron stains within the tooth enamel. This higher concentration of whitening gel is left on the teeth for 30-60 minutes. Several sessions may be required for full discoloration removal.
Dental Veneers and Crowns
Veneers and dental crowns both cover teeth with custom-made porcelain restorations to create an even, bright smile. While expensive, these options completely conceal severe intrinsic stains that remain after other whitening attempts.
Preventing New Iron Stains on Teeth
Once you’ve successfully removed iron supplement stains, you’ll want to take precautions to prevent future discoloration:
Take Iron Supplements Between Meals
Take your iron pills between meals, not with food. Eating iron-rich foods at the same time provides excess iron that can contribute to staining.
Swallow supplements with water only. Follow with a water rinse and brushing to remove residue.
Use a Straw When Drinking Liquids
Sipping drinks through a straw prevents staining liquids from contacting and coating your teeth. Use a straw when taking iron supplements or drinking beverages like coffee, tea, or wine.
Brush After Taking Iron Supplements
Gently brushing right after taking iron pills can eliminate residue and prevent staining. Focus on front teeth and areas prone to buildup. Avoid scrubbing too hard – use a soft brush and baking soda paste instead.
Explore Iron Supplement Alternatives
If dental stains persist despite prevention methods, consider substituting your oral iron supplement for an alternative:
- Liquid chlorophyll – This plant-derived supplement provides bioavailable iron without staining teeth.
- Vitamin C – Boosting vitamin C intake helps your body better absorb dietary iron so you can lower your iron supplement dose.
- Folic acid – Correcting folic acid deficiency can treat anemia without using traditional iron supplements.
- Iron-rich foods – Eat more spinach, oysters, organ meats, lentils, and fortified cereals to increase dietary iron intake. This causes less accumulation on teeth than supplements.
Conclusion: How To Remove Iron Supplement Stains from Teeth
Iron supplement stains can be frustrating, but luckily there are many effective ways to remove discoloration and restore your bright smile.
For minor stains, try natural teeth whitening remedies like baking soda pastes, sipping through a straw, and monitoring iron intake. Professional treatments such as laser whitening, dental cleanings, and peroxide gels offer faster results for severe staining.
Prevent future iron discoloration by taking supplements properly, drinking with a straw, brushing after use, and exploring substitute options. Avoiding smoking and foods that stain can also keep teeth whiter.
With the proper oral care habits, iron supplement stains can be controlled. Don’t let embarrassing marks undermine your confidence – take steps today to safely remove iron discoloration and maintain your radiant smile.
Q: How long does it take for iron supplements to stain teeth?
A: Iron staining can develop within 1-2 weeks of starting supplements, but may take up to 6 months for noticeable discoloration in some cases. Stains darken over time with continued use.
Q: Can iron tablets stain false teeth or dentures?
A: Yes, iron supplements can still cause discoloration on false teeth, dentures, dental crowns, and veneers. Staining develops on porcelain or acrylic materials.
Q: Will stopping iron supplements remove the stains?
A: Unfortunately, existing iron stains do not fade or disappear when you stop taking supplements. You need to use teeth whitening remedies to actively lift and remove the discoloration.
Q: Are iron supplement stains permanent?
A: Surface-level extrinsic stains can be removed, but deeper intrinsic staining may be permanent if it penetrates the inner tooth layers. Severe intrinsic stains often require professional whitening or dental work.
Q: Can children get teeth stains from liquid iron supplements?
A: Yes, liquid iron supplements and drops can still cause teeth stains in children, especially if swished around or held in the mouth. Give supplements through a straw and rinse with water after.