Over-the-counter dietary supplements are taken by many people who use them to correct nutritional deficiencies, boost immune function, and to lower cholesterol. While supplements may be an effective alternative treatment option, you should discuss them with your physician and dentist before you start taking them.
Supplements can have side effects, just like prescription medications. They should be taken with caution because they can even negatively affect your teeth and gums. Here are three dietary supplements that can harm your tooth enamel and what you can do about it:
As the name implies, ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, is a high acidic dietary supplements. If you take the chewable or powdered form of vitamin C that needs to be dissolved in water, you may be harming your dental enamel. In extreme cases, your enamel may be worn away, exposing naturally yellow dentin. If this happens, a cosmetic dentist may recommend porcelain veneers, caps, or bonding to help restore brightness to your teeth.
Chewable or powdered forms of vitamin C can lead to extreme acid erosion, which can raise your risk for cavities and dental infections. If your doctor has recommended that you take vitamin C to help boost your immunity or for other reasons, talk to your dentist about it. He or she may need to monitor your enamel more carefully or more often so that subtle changes in the surface of your teeth can be recognized and treated quickly. If possible, only take vitamin C tablets that you can swallow.
Iron or ferrous sulfate supplements can quickly reverse anemia. While many doctors recommend that you take your iron supplement in tablet form, others recommend that you take it in liquid form.
It is thought that liquid iron preparations are absorbed into the body more readily and can therefore correct anemia faster. However, taking liquid iron has a drawback when it comes to your teeth. If contact is made with your tooth enamel, your teeth might become discolored. To reduce your risk for tooth darkening, consume your liquid iron through a straw.
If, despite your best efforts, the liquid iron comes into contact with your dental enamel, rinse your mouth with water. This will help dilute the formulation so that your teeth will not be affected. If your teeth darken as a result of iron supplementation, your dentist can recommend in-office whitening procedures such as bleaching or laser treatments.
Zinc is another dietary supplement that can damage the enamel on your teeth. While not directly, zinc and zinc-containing supplements can indirectly cause enamel erosion because they can cause GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Over time, GERD can damage your dental enamel, causing tooth sensitivity, pain, and discoloration.
If you are considering taking zinc supplements to shorten the duration of a cold, or for other health reasons, talk to your physician, especially if you suffer from acid reflux disease or GERD. To help reduce acid reflux complications related to zinc supplementation, take your tablets with plenty of water, and limit your consumption of citrus fruits, chocolate, alcohol, and mint products, as these can further trigger an episode of acid reflux.
If you take any of the above dietary supplements and develop problems with your enamel, make an appointment with your dentist. If enamel damage is severe, he or she may refer you to a cosmetic dentist office like Dental Implant & Cosmetic, PC for further evaluation and treatment.