Many people have the view that everyday vitamin and mineral supplements only do good for our health and wellbeing. In fact, around 2/3 of the Australian population take dietary supplements with this understanding. Though it’s worth remembering that all drugs, including medications and nutritional supplements, carry a risk of side effects. Commonly, the more supplements which are taken, the higher the risk.
It’s also important to weigh up the benefits against the risk of harm in taking any substance which can cause changes in how the body works.
In relation to oral health, side effects from certain supplements can increase the risk of infection, bleeding and inflammation (swelling) and even slow down healing. Supplements may also interact with other medications being taken and enhance, or reduce, their effectiveness.
In the experience of pharmacy experts, drug interactions are often under-identified and the general public largely unaware of adverse health effects of taking supplements.
It’s important to tell your dentist if you are taking any medication, including vitamin, mineral or herbal supplements. So at your dental appointments, bring a list of any medications, including supplements, that you’re taking. Bring the actual bottle/s or container/s, otherwise, a clear photo so your dentist can check if they’re safe to take and offer you professional guidance.
There are well-known risks of some of the popular ingredients in many nutritional supplements:
Supplements are still drugs, even though they may not be marketed as such. In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) inspects products and ensures they comply with relevant codes, though problems arise when products don’t contain what is stated and when they are in inaccurate concentrations.
Although the pharmaceutical industry is highly regulated, the complimentary medicine industry is not.
Even though supplements are often marketed as being ‘natural’ this is not a guarantee that they are harmless. It’s still possible to be allergic to ingredients and have an adverse reaction to them. It can be difficult to identify the exact cause of a reaction because many supplements are a combination of ingredients, at varying concentrations and not always included in the product information.
There can also be a cost to the individual in delaying more effective treatment, in the hope that taking a supplement will treat a condition.
Speak with your dentist and all your healthcare providers to let them know all of the medications and supplements you are taking. Book an appointment today to see your dentist.