Never Take This Popular Supplement Before Going to the Dentist
Taking this vitamin could cause serious problems at your next appointment.
Before going in for a dental procedure, it's good to be prepared. Brushing your teeth, getting a good night's sleep, and eating a high-protein meal to keep you satiated longer are excellent ideas to get you ready for your procedure. But did you know that taking too much of a popular vitamin—one that's well-known for its health benefits—may leave you full of regret while in the dentist's chair? Read on to discover which nutrient you should avoid before your next dentist visit.
One supplement can make things particularly unpleasant at the dentist.
You're often told to take more vitamin C, and for good reason. Whether you get it through food or a daily supplement, this powerful nutrient can boost your immune system, improve your memory, and enhance iron absorption. While vitamin C delivers these health benefits (and then some), too much vitamin C before a dental procedure may be asking for a mouthful of pain.
"Consuming excessive or large amounts of vitamin C-rich foods—such as orange juice, guava, pineapples, or strawberries—the day before or day of a dental procedure may interfere with a patient's ability to get numb with a local anesthetic," explains Anjali Rajpal, DMD, a cosmetic dentist with Beverly Hills Dental Arts. "However, small amounts of vitamin C-rich foods shouldn't compromise the effect of dental anesthetic." With that in mind, if a high-dose vitamin C supplement is part of your morning routine, consider putting it on pause during the days leading up to your appointment.
This vitamin affects your body's pH levels.
The reason to avoid vitamin C before receiving a local anesthetic is because of its impact on your body's pH levels, per a 2002 study in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. "Consuming vitamin C can alter the body's pH balance [by lowering it], which can counteract the effectiveness of dental anesthesia," Rajpal confirms.
A 2006 study published in the journal Gynecological Endocrinology assessed the vaginal pH of 39 women who received a vitamin C formula. The researchers concluded that vitamin C has an effective and long-lasting pH-lowering effect. In addition, anesthetic requires a narrow pH to be effective, according to an article published on Designs for Dental Health. Therefore, if you supplement high doses of vitamin C or eat plenty of vitamin C-rich foods, your body's pH balance could be low, and you may experience difficulties getting numb with a local anesthetic.
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Here's how long to avoid vitamin C before you go to the dentist.
"Avoid vitamin C supplements at least 48 hours prior to a dental appointment where an anesthetic will be administered," Rajpal recommends. If you've already had dental work done, however, she has a different suggestion. "If you're attempting to wear off an anesthetic's side effects after a procedure, vitamin C may actually expedite the body's clearing of the anesthetic and reduce the numbness sooner," she says. A 2015 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Anesthesiology backs up Rajpal's statement. The researchers found that vitamin C effectively reduced the adverse effects of most commonly used anesthetics, including those used by dentists.
Vitamin C isn't the only nutrient to keep away from leading up to your next dentist visit. Fadi Swaida, DDS, a dentist based out of Toronto, says, "[In addition to vitamin C], we recommend that patients avoid vitamin E, vitamin K, fish oils, B vitamins, and all herbal supplements. These can interfere with how the body functions during surgery, including oral surgery."
Take vitamin C after dental procedures to recover faster.
The negative effects of anesthesia can be quite challenging, which is why Rajpal's science-backed suggestion is so useful. A 2021 meta-study published in the Journal of Dental Anesthesia and Pain Medicine revealed that vitamin C helps the body recover from the adverse effects of local anesthesia, ranging from dizziness and nausea to more severe symptoms like facial paralysis or hallucinations. So it's a wise decision to get as much vitamin C as you can after your dental procedure.
Rajpal says, "It may help to take [vitamin C] right after the dental procedure is completed. In most patients, it takes about two hours for the numbness to wear off on its own, but depending on a patient's metabolism, it can take a longer or shorter time."
Jeffrey Sulitzer, DMD, Chief Clinical Officer with SmileDirectClub, summarizes it well. "Taking vitamin C before undergoing dental anesthesia could change pH levels, making it less effective," he notes. "However, following an appointment that involves numbing or a procedure, vitamin C can help the body recover. [Vitamin C] is also beneficial for healthy gums and teeth, along with maintaining a good oral care routine."