3 Surprising Things That Can Damage Your Teeth

While most people know that improper dental hygiene can lead to tooth decay and gingivitis, many aren't aware that certain lifestyle choices and health conditions can do the same. When you work with both your dentist and primary care doctor, you can reduce your risk for oral problems such as gum disease, cavities, dental sensitivity, and tooth staining. Here are three surprising things that may harm your teeth and gums:

Acid Reflux Disease

Acid reflux disease can lead to tooth enamel erosion. When you have acid reflux, irritating acid from your stomach gets pushed up into your esophagus, throat, and sometimes your mouth. It can be caused by certain foods, obesity, pregnancy, and hiatal hernia. If the stomach acid makes contact with your teeth, it can wear away at your tooth enamel, leaving your teeth vulnerable to cavity-causing bacteria. Not only can this lead to cavities, it can also put you at risk for developing tooth sensitivity or pain.

Stomach acid from reflux disease can also lead to inflammation of your gums. When your gums become inflamed, it can be difficult to brush underneath the gum line, leaving this area vulnerable to plaque buildup and bacteria. If left to accumulate, infection and bleeding can develop. At the first sign of swollen, bright red, or bleeding gums, see your dentist, who will recommend a deep cleaning and perhaps an antibacterial rinse to slow the growth of bacteria and hasten healing of your gum tissue.

Iron Supplements

If you develop anemia, your doctor may recommend liquid iron supplements. Even though iron supplements are usually diluted with water, it the substance makes contact with your teeth, deep staining can occur. To reduce your risk of iron-related tooth staining, consume your medication through a straw, and then drink plenty of water afterwards. If your teeth get stained despite using a straw, ask your doctor to change your iron prescription to pill form.


Menopause can cause problems with your teeth and gums in a couple of different ways. As women enter into their menopausal years, their salivary glands may stop producing normal amounts of saliva. This can lead to dry mouth, and when there isn't enough saliva in your mouth to wash away bacteria, gum disease and cavities can develop. Menopause also causes estrogen stores to decline, and when this happens, bones can become weak and brittle, including the bones in the mouth that support the teeth.

If you develop problems with your teeth or gums because of the above circumstances, call your dentist or physician. Dental care providers like Larsen-Haslem Dental can help. When oral problems are recognized and addressed early, they can be effectively treated and often reversed.