Taking Herbal Supplements? Let Your Dentist Know

Herbal supplements may be perfectly natural, but they may not mix well with dental work.

Many people think that just because herbal supplements are all-natural, they don’t need to tell their health care professionals that they’re taking the herbs. Consider your dentist, for example. Some folks don’t even take them into account as medical professionals anyway, which in fact they are.

The thing is, the active ingredients in those herbal supplements are chemicals (just like everything else in the world). Sometimes those chemicals have unexpected side effects that can cause serious trouble when your dentist is working on your teeth.

A Little Diversion

Before we go into particulars, a reminder: just because something’s all-natural doesn’t mean it’s always safe. Belladonna and hemlock are 100% natural herbs, but they’re deadly poisons.

Another point: many of the medications a dentist administers or prescribes derive from natural plants originally used in herbal remedies before being subsumed into modern medicine. So don’t look askance at them just because they come in pill or liquid form nowadays.

Not Numb Enough

Just as you should avoid some drug mixtures because of potential harmful interactions, you should also avoid some drug/supplement combinations…even some that seem perfectly innocuous. Did you know that massive doses of Vitamin C (a.k.a. ascorbic acid) can weaken the effects of anesthesia?

Suppose you take a couple of thousand milligrams for that cold you feel coming on the morning before you have your wisdom teeth taken out. Well, you might just start feeling some or all of the pain before the dentist completes the surgery! No one wants to experience that kind of horror story.

Up The Creek

Now, you might think they could just “pump up the volume” on the anesthetic if you start feeling the pain…and often they can. But there’s only so much they can give you before it starts endangering your life. You might have to cancel the surgery right in the middle…or somehow bear the pain through to the end.

Too Numb, Too Thin

You should also inform the dentist if you’re taking St. John’s Wort for depression, or Kava Kava for pain; both can strengthen anesthesia’s effects, making it harder for you to come out of it and, in some cases, endangering your live thereby.

Plus, Vitamin E and aspirin taken together can thin the blood so much you have difficulty forming clots, resulting in excessive bleeding from something as simple as an extraction. As you can see, even seemingly harmless herbal supplements can cause serious damage if your dentist doesn’t know you’re taking them.

Despite Steve Martin’s portrayal of the dentist in the Little Shop of Horrors movie, your dentist doesn’t really want to cause you pain or damage. So spill the beans about your supplements before your oral surgery or extractions!