Can herbal and alternative medications affect your oral health and everyday dental procedures?

When filling out a dental and medical health history prior to any dental therapy, it is important to provide your dental health professionals with a complete and concise overview of your personal health history. Whether it is a prescription medication or a herbal/alternative medical tincture, it must be disclosed. Any substance that alters the body can be important to your dental health and can possibly affect the dental procedure that is scheduled for you that day. This can be especially important if you are scheduled to undergo any type of dental surgery.

Although many pharmaceuticals are originally derived from plants, they have often been altered or synthesized in a laboratory. Herbal supplements/medications are closer in form to the original plant that it was extracted from, and therefore are/can be potent and affect your oral health in a similar manner as do prescription medications.  There are a few combinations that can be especially important to disclose. Below are a few:

  • Gingko Biloba and vitamin E can be harmful when mixed with Aspirin due to their blood thinning properties. Either of these herbal medications is important to disclose, particularly if you are scheduled for periodontal therapy (Scaling), Restorative work (Crown and bridge, fillings), or dental surgery (Extractions, Implant placement, etc). Mixing different types of blood thinners, whether pharmaceuticals or herbal, can diminish the body’s ability to clot, which can be particularly dangerous after undergoing any of the above-mentioned procedures.
  • Taking high dosages of vitamin C prior to local anesthetic can also lower the efficacy of the anesthetic. If this occurs, dental procedures can be lengthy and uncomfortable.
  • Alternatively, calming supplements such as St. Johns Wort and Kava Kava can have the opposite effect on local anesthetic. These supplements can increase the effectiveness, potentially causing the effects of these interventions to last longer, heightening the risk of biting your cheek while frozen.

Herbal and alternative medications are trends that have been consistently emerging. With new forms of medical therapies integrating into modern day dentistry, working along side your dental health team is important and can be vital to helping us provide appropriate and comprehensive dental care.

Remember, even if you feel it may not have a correlation with your dental health, its better to disclose all information and let the clinician decipher important information in your health history.

Braeside Dental Centre



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