Herbal supplements have become quite popular over the last 10-15 years and are a growing business. Unfortunately, these supplements are not considered drugs and therefore are not regulated by the Food And Drug Administration (FDA). The lack of regulation means that these supplements have not been independently verified to provide the benefits they advertise.
Even if they do what they are supposed to, an important question arises...Do you tell your physician or doctor all the supplements you are taking? The answer is YES. Everything we consume into our bodies has a certain reaction in our bodies. If your dentist or doctor does not know all the substances you are taking it will be impossible to help you avoid drug interactions. This is especially important if you are undergoing any type of surgical treatment that requires general anesthesia.
Prescription Medications Versus Herbal Supplements
While many prescription drugs are also derived from plants just like supplements, they are very different. Prescription drugs are regulated and have undergone rigorous testing to ensure they are safe and work as intended.
Many herbal supplements are made from natural chemicals extracted from plants and are produced either in original form or refined. When an herbal medication is refined, the essential extract is taken out of the plant source, concentrated and packaged for sale.
There are many herbal supplements promoted for improving oral health. Here are a few examples and their proposed benefits for dental health:
Coenzyme Q10 promotes gum healing and cell growth.
Lysine combats aphthous ulcers (canker sores).
Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids promotes healing, especially of gingivitis.
Calcium and Magnesium help prevent loss of bone supporting the teeth.
Vitamins A and E are used for healing gingival tissue.
Grape Seed Extract is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
Zinc plus Copper is promoted for strengthening the immune system.
Aloe Vera Gel eases inflamed gums and soothes the tissues when applied directly to the affected area.
Tea Tree Oils are believed to have antiseptic as well as anti fungal properties.
Chamomile Tea is soothing to gingival tissues.
Green Tea may prevent tooth decay, reduce plaque, and it has antioxidants.
Clove Oil is good for temporary relief of tooth and gum pain.
Echinacea reduces inflammation and enhances immune function.
Significant Herbal Supplement Drug Interactions
Even the most simple herbal supplement combinations can cause dangerous interactions. Here are some important herbal supplement interactions to avoid.
Ginkgo biloba and vitamin E can be dangerous when taken with aspirin because like aspirin, they also cause excessive thinning of blood. The combination may reduce blood clotting, which could be serious for patients undergoing any type of oral surgery (such as a tooth extraction or periodontal surgery).
Taking high dosages of vitamins before receiving anesthesia can also create issues. In particular, vitamin C, often taken in high dosages for cancer treatment, can decrease the efficiency of anesthesia used for dental procedures.
Calming supplements, such as Kava Kava or St. John’s Wort, can strengthen the effects of anesthesia.
Homemade tea tree supplements should be avoided because they can cause irritation and burning.
Impact of Herbal Supplements on Dentistry
Most of us think herbal supplements are harmless because they are considered natural. Some of us may believe that if one is good 10 are better. Excessive intake of herbal supplements can cause health problems as serious as internal bleeding and dangerous heart beats. It is important to let your dentist and physician know which herbal supplements you are taking in order to avoid possible drug interactions or unforeseen consequences.
Always provide your dentist with a complete medical history, including any herbal supplements and conventional drugs you are taking. Some patients who take alternative herbal supplements are afraid their physician or dentist will not understand their decision to take an herbal supplement and will advise them to stop taking it. Your physician or dentist might even recommend an alternative, herbal solution for you.
If an herbal medication could interfere with your dental treatment, your dentist may simply ask you to stop taking the medication until the dental care is completed. The dentist also may be able to prescribe a different drug for treatment, if one is available.
About the Author
Dr. Marielaina Perrone is a cosmetic dentist. Her advanced professional training and extensive dentistry experience translate into greater confidence and convenience for your entire family. Learn more at Henderson Cosmetic Dentist.
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