Do Iron Supplements Stain Your Teeth and Is There One Which Doesn't?

Taking traditional iron supplements can sometimes lead to tooth staining. This is because iron is a metal, and metals can bind to the teeth and cause them to discolour.

In this article, I'm going to explore this subject of dental staining in some detail, explaining the science behind this, and what you can do to resolve it.

It's important to realise that not all iron supplements have this affect, so if oral hygiene and aesthetics are a priority, you need to choose wisely.

Do Iron Supplements Stain Your Teeth and Is There One Which Doesn't?

Do Iron Supplements Stain Your Teeth?

Yes, many forms of iron supplements do stain your teeth, especially certain liquid forms that come into direct contact with tooth enamel, leading to dark or black stains. To minimise this risk, take iron supplements in pill form, use a straw for liquid supplements, or brush teeth soon after consumption.

The Science Behind Iron Supplements and Tooth Discoloration

The exact mechanism of how iron supplements cause tooth staining is not fully understood. However, it is thought that the iron ions in the supplements can react with the proteins in saliva to form a brown or black compound that can stain the teeth.

The discoloration likely occurs due to a process known as chelation, where the iron binds with compounds in the mouth to form a type of soluble complex. When this complex comes in contact with the teeth, it can adhere to the tooth enamel, leading to a staining effect. The stain often presents as a brown or dark yellow discoloration on the tooth surface, predominantly affecting the front teeth, as they are most exposed during ingestion.

This staining isn't generally a one-time occurrence but rather a cumulative effect resulting from the continuous ingestion of certain types of iron supplements over an extended period. Particularly at risk are individuals who chew or hold the supplement in their mouth for prolonged periods, thereby increasing the contact time of iron with the teeth.

Do Some Forms of Iron Tend to Stain the Teeth More than Others?

The type of iron supplement that you take can also affect the likelihood of tooth staining. Some types of liquid iron supplements are more likely to stain teeth than tablet or capsule forms because they come into contact with the teeth.

The amount of iron that you take can also affect the likelihood of tooth staining. People who take high doses of iron supplements are more likely to experience tooth staining than those who take lower doses.

The length of time that you take iron supplements can also affect the likelihood of tooth staining. People who take iron supplements for a long period of time are more likely to experience tooth staining than those who take them for a shorter period of time.

There are a few things that you can do to reduce your risk of tooth staining from iron supplements. First, make sure to brush your teeth thoroughly after taking your supplements. You may also want to use a whitening toothpaste or mouthwash.

If you do notice that your teeth are starting to stain, you can try to remove the stains with a professional teeth cleaning. However, in some cases, the stains may be permanent.

What iron supplements do not stain your teeth?

Nano iron supplements, as the name implies, consist of iron particles that have been reduced to the nano scale - typically less than 100 nanometers in diameter. Despite this being a liquid supplement, no one has ever reported any issue with dental discolouration.

Because the iron particles are so small, they are less likely to form the large, soluble complexes that conventional iron supplements do when they chelate with compounds like tannins. 

FAQs on Iron Supplementation & Teeth Staining

How can I prevent my teeth from staining while taking iron supplements?

To prevent staining, it is recommended to take conventional iron supplements through a straw to minimize contact with the teeth, brush teeth or rinse the mouth after taking the supplement, and ensure good oral hygiene practices are followed.

Are there any iron supplements that do not cause teeth staining?

Nano Iron is a form of supplement designed to avoid the issue of teeth staining entirely. It contains elemental iron at a nanoscale size suspended in pure water. These particles so small that they do not interact with the teeth in the same way larger particles would.

Can iron pills make your teeth yellow?

Iron pills can sometimes cause teeth to appear yellow or brownish in color if they are not taken properly. The iron can form a residue on the tooth enamel, resulting in a discoloration that may appear yellow.

How do you get rid of iron marks on your teeth?

To remove iron stains, you may use baking soda mixed with water to gently brush the teeth, which can help lift the stains. However, for persistent staining, a professional cleaning by a dentist is advisable. They may use more advanced cleaning agents that are safe for enamel but effective against stains.

Should you brush your teeth after taking iron?

It is wise to brush your teeth or at least rinse your mouth after taking conventional iron supplements to reduce the risk of staining. If you are taking liquid iron (other than Nano Iron), consider using a straw, and follow up with dental hygiene practices.

Do iron stains on teeth become permanent?

Iron stains on teeth are not usually permanent. With proper oral hygiene and potentially professional dental cleaning, these stains can be removed.

Does ferrous sulfate stain teeth?

Ferrous sulfate, a common type of iron supplement, is known to cause teeth staining, particularly if the liquid form comes in direct contact with the teeth.

Can iron supplements stain a baby's teeth?

Yes, iron supplements can stain a baby's teeth, especially liquid forms. It's important to maintain oral hygiene for babies as recommended by a pediatrician.

Can iron supplements cause tooth decay?

Iron supplements themselves do not cause tooth decay. However, poor oral hygiene after consuming iron supplements can lead to an environment that promotes tooth decay.

Do iron stains on baby teeth go away?

Stains from iron on baby teeth can often be brushed away with regular toothpaste, but in some cases, a professional dental cleaning may be required.

Is there a liquid iron that does not stain teeth?

Nano Iron does not cause staining of the teeth.