Dr. Michael Handler

Vitamins and Supplements – Why It’s Important to Tell Your Dentist What You Take

By Dr. Michael Handler

Vitamins and Supplements

Getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals is important for both your bones and your oral health. Many people use supplements to ensure they don’t experience a deficiency of essential nutrients, and some products are especially important for their effect on teeth and gums. Just because these aren’t prescription medications is no reason to keep quiet about them when you see your Scarborough dentist, however.

Everything you ingest causes a certain reaction in the body, and the effects on your system can impact your oral health. This makes it vitally important to ensure your dental practitioner has a full picture of your overall health, as well as any and all medical or alternative therapies you use.

Surgical Risks

If you’re planning to undergo any form of dental surgery, even if it’s for a tooth replacement or a root canal, it’s essential that your practitioner knows what to expect. For example, supplements such as ginkgo biloba, turmeric and vitamin E all have blood-thinning properties. This is great for patients at risk of heart attacks, but if you’re having surgery it could cause difficulties with blood clotting.

High doses of vitamin C are often recommended for patients having cancer chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but these can reduce the effects of the anesthetic, among other problems. The patient could find him- or herself not fully asleep during the procedure, unless the dentist is aware of the dosage and able to advise how long before surgery to stop taking it.

On the flip side, supplements such as kava kava or St. John’s Wort that have a calming effect can enhance the effects of anesthesia, making it difficult for the patient to wake up and increasing the risk of the surgery.

Combination Side Effects

Most patients are aware when they experience side effects from medication, and the same applies to vitamins and supplements. Often, these side effects are minimal, however, and many people ignore them in favour of the helpful benefits of the products. As time goes by, it’s easy to forget you had a minor side effect from something, especially if you’ve built up a tolerance and no longer experience it.

Unless you tell your Scarborough dentist about the vitamins and supplements you use, it’s possible they will use products during your procedure that have previously disagreed with you, of those that are generally entirely harmless unless combined with another product. When either of these occur, the results can be profound.

For example, conventional drugs are typically based on ingredients derived from plants. If you’re taking a supplement that contains the same original ingredient, it’s possible you could “double-up” on your dosage to a dangerous level.

There’s nothing wrong with taking calcium or vitamin D to help you maintain healthy bones and teeth, but it’s particularly important not to neglect telling every medical practitioner you see about the supplements you use. In Canada, many pharmacies now provide blister packs of monthly medication that includes any supplements you take regularly. Patients who make use of this service have an easy way out—they can simply take a blister pack along with them. Whatever method you have to use, make sure you don’t keep any secrets from your Scarborough dentist.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or dental advice. Always get the opinion of your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider for individual and specific recommendations.

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