accessibility ACCESSIBILITY

Dr. Logan's Articles

Dr. Scott Logan - Dental Articles -  Huntsville, TX Dentistry

Thank you for visiting the Articles page of Dr. Scott Logan! Please check back occasionally for additional discussions on various dentistry topics in Huntsville, TX. Please contact us today if you have any questions or wish to schedule an appointment!


Jaw Joints and Those “Pesky” Headaches

Last week I discussed headaches and many of their causes. This week I will specifically focus on the TMJs and how they can relate to the pain you are feeling. TMJ is an acronym for the Temporomandibular Joint. TMJ has been used by many people through the years to actually describe TMD which is an acronym for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. TMD describes many symptoms related to the jaw and supporting structures. This disorder is a subgroup of Orofacial Pain Disorder that includes many different types of pain in the head and neck. The Temporomandibular Joint itself is located directly in front of the ear and is commonly called the “jaw joint”. Common symptoms of Temporomandibular disorders are pain or discomfort around the ear, jaw joints, facial muscles, headaches, temple pain, throat pain, pain with opening, chewing, locking of the jaws, limited opening, clicking, popping or grating noises.

TMD typically occurs because of a variety of factors, rarely is there only one single symptom or cause. Some factors include trauma to the face or jaw, arthritis, bruxism (grinding your teeth) or neck conditions. The most common cause is clenching/grinding your teeth. There are a variety of reasons people clench their teeth, so treating its cause is at the core of any treatment plan for the relief of pain. Any or all of these concerns can perpetuate TMD symptoms and should be addressed. TMD and Facial Pain are a chronic, degenerative condition that must be managed to reduce the aggravating factors. I would like to say there is a “quick fix”, but that just isn’t the case.

As far as headaches go, TMD is often a contributing factor and/or the cause of your pain. As I mentioned last week, there are many causes for headaches, but quite often TMD is an overlooked concern. The contraction of the facial muscles can produce a headache cycle that is sometimes difficult to stop, so the earlier the intervention, the better. Not only can the muscle contractions cause pain, they can also be the initial contributing factor for other types of headaches such as migraines.

Treatment for TMD depends on your symptoms and the different factors that are contributing to those symptoms. As with other musculoskeletal conditions, medication, physical therapy, behavioral modification or orthopedic appliances (bite splints) may be used for treatment. Depending on the underlying cause(s) they may be used alone or in combination with each other to achieve good function and a decrease in pain. In the long run, the most important factor to a healthy joint is movement and lubrication. The “oil” for the joints is called synovial fluid and is critical for long-term health. Without it and free movement, the joints can potentially develop arthritis and other internal breakdown of the joints. Next week I will give you some information on other symptoms of TMD and exactly what is involved with orthopedic appliance (bite splint) therapy. I hope you have an incredible week. As always send me your questions to


This entry was posted in Treatment on by admin.

Xylitol – Part 2

A few weeks ago I discussed the product xylitol.  I have had a lot of people ask more questions about the sweetener so I thought I would give you a few more details about it in this week’s article.  As I mentioned before, Xylitol is a sugar substitute derived from plants that has the same sweetness as sucrose, but 40% fewer calories and no aftertaste. 

Xylitol was discovered in the late 1800’s, but was found to have cavity fighting properties in the 1940’s when, due to sugar shortages in Europe, the Scandinavian countries began to use it as a sugar substitute.  By the 1950’s, children in these countries were observed to have fewer cavities than children in countries still utilizing sugar.  There are a variety of products that can be utilized in the fight against decay. 

They include:

  • Toothpaste
  • Oral rinses
  • Mints
  • Chewing gum. 


Xylitol is a natural sugar derived most commonly from birch trees, corn cobs and corn stalks.  This sugar is unique, however, in that it contains only 5 carbon atoms per molecule instead of the 6 found in common sugar (I threw that in for all of the chemists out there!).  This molecular difference is a key to xylitol’s antibacterial properties.  When exposed to this 5-carbon sugar, bacteria lose their ability to adhere to the surface of the teeth as well.  Tooth destroying acids are reduced and plaque is more easily brushed and rinsed out of the mouth.  As I mentioned before, Xylitol also works to inhibit the decay process by restoring pH levels to above 5.7.  By reducing the acidity of the mouth, xylitol slows down erosion of the teeth and allows for re-mineralization of damaged tooth structure.  Salivary flow is enhanced (as it is with most mints or gum) which helps sweep away harmful, decay causing bacteria and materials.  When combined with proper oral hygiene and regular dental care, the result is a healthier smile, fresher breath and fewer cavities. 

Xylitol looks, acts and behaves like sugar in baking, cooking and other uses.  It all sounds too good to be true, but I have utilized it in several things and found the results to be excellent.  The FDA and World Health Organizations have given Xylitol sweeteners their highest rating for food additives so you can use it with full confidence that it not only tastes good, but is also good for you.  As an aside, I have also found xylitol in mild saline nasal sprays.  It can be utilized for regular rinsing of the nasal passages and is beneficial to one’s upper respiratory health.

If you would like more information on xylitol you can go to  Xylitol is available at many health centers and natural food stores.  If you type xylitol into your computers search engine you will find numerous sources for the products.  The two I have personally tried are and  I made lemonade with the sweet-n-natural product from physicians preference and thought it was great. 

Healthy smiles for the whole family begin with good oral hygiene and regular dental care, but it’s nice to have a little help at home, especially when it tastes so good!


This entry was posted in Medication on by admin.

Xylitol – Part 1


If you have a sweet tooth and haven’t heard of xylitol you are in for a treat.  Xylitol is a sugar substitute derived from plants that has the same sweetness as sucrose, but 40% fewer calories and no aftertaste.  It is found in many fruits and vegetables and is even produced by the human body during its normal metabolism of glucose. Xylitol is typically manufactured from birch trees or other natural xylan-rich sources and is a sweetener that is being added to many different products with great results. 

In addition, Xylitol is a low-glycaemic sweetener that is metabolized independently of insulin.  Xylitol does not cause the sharp increase in blood sugar level or the associated serum insulin response, which is usually seen following consumption of other carbohydrates.   Thus, Xylitol can be recommended as a sugar-free sweetener suitable for diabetics as well as for the general population seeking a healthier lifestyle.

The wonderful thing about xylitol (which really does taste like sugar) is that it is actually good for your teeth.  Extensive research on xylitol has proved it can be exceptionally helpful in promoting good oral health.  Studies have shown that xylitol can actually reduce the incidence of dental decay by up to 85%!  The most effective form of xylitol for reduction of cavities is chewing gum.  I have personally utilized the gum and powdered sweeteners and found it to be very, very good.  I have never been a fan of the taste of artificial sweeteners and still don’t understand how someone can develop a taste for diet drinks (although my wife loves them), but xylitol is different – it actually tastes good.

According to, xylitol affects the pH level of the mouth.  When carbohydrate or sugars are consumed, pH levels drop below 5.7 (it becomes acidic in your mouth and causes breakdown of the teeth).  Xylitol can restore pH levels to above 5.7, which slows down the erosion of the teeth and allows for re-mineralization of damaged tooth structure.  Salivary flow is also enhanced which helps sweep away harmful, decay causing bacteria and materials.

Studies indicate the re-mineralization effect of the xylitol is still evident up to three years after its use has ended!  It appears to have no adverse side effects and is used in a variety of foods as well as chewing gums and toothpastes.  Doses up to 90 grams a day have been deemed safe.  It is also widely approved for use in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics in many countries around the world.

Got a sweet tooth?  Consult your dentist about the benefits of xylitol chewing gum for your oral health.  Finally…something we recommend that actually tastes good!


This entry was posted in Medication on by admin.



Are radiographs (x-ray examinations) really necessary?  That is a good question and one that needs to be answered and understood if you are ever going to have radiographs taken.  Radiographic examinations provide your dentist with an important tool that shows the condition of your teeth, its roots, jaw placement and the overall composition of your facial bones.  Radiographs help your dentist determine the presence or degree of periodontal disease, abscesses and many abnormal growths, such as cysts and tumors.  They can pinpoint the location of cavities and other signs of disease that may not be possible to detect through a visual examination.  I explain to my patients that trying to do an examination without radiographs is like trying to examine their mouth without my glasses.  It limits me on my ability to see concerns.


Do I need to have radiographs taken every time I see the dentist?

No, the need for radiographs is based on the dentist’s assessment of your individual needs.  New patients typically require a full mouth set of radiographs and a panoramic x-ray.  Depending on your individual needs this can range from seven to twenty-one individual small films.  After a patient is established, the dentist will determine how often they need to have them taken based on the patient’s own oral condition.  After the initial examination, a “check-up” series is typically taken every year.  Patients with a low decay rate may require films only once every two years to maintain their health.


What is a “panoramic radiograph?

Just as a panoramic photograph allows you to see a broad view such as the Grand Canyon, a panoramic radiograph allows your dentist to see the entire structure of your mouth in a single image.  Within one large film, panoramic X-rays reveal all of your upper and lower teeth and parts of your jaw.  The panoramic X-ray will give your dentist a general and comprehensive view of your entire mouth and show structures such as the sinuses, nasal structure, and the temporomandibular joints.  It is ideal for visualizing tumors, cysts and other abnormalities in the jaws.  In contrast, the smaller individual radiographs cannot show these large images but are a more highly-detailed view that allows your dentist to see decay between the teeth.  X-rays are not prescribed indiscriminately.  Your dentist has a need for the different information that each radiograph can provide to formulate a diagnosis.


Should I be concerned about exposure to radiation?

All health care providers are sensitive to patients’ concerns about exposure to radiation.  Your dentist has been trained to prescribe radiographs when they are appropriate and to tailor radiographic schedules to each patient’s individual needs.  By using state-of-the-art technology and staying knowledgeable about recent advances, your dentist knows which techniques, procedures and X-ray films can minimize your exposure to radiation.  Digital radiography is wonderful.  We now can take radiographs that instantly appear as an image on the computer monitor.  Not only is it easier to diagnose decay because the image is so much larger, it also requires only 10-15% of the radiation needed for a conventional x-ray!  Digital radiography is a technology that I wouldn’t want to give up in my office.

Patients are concerned about radiation, but when used properly the benefit far outweighs the risk.  Feel free to ask your dentist how often he/she feels radiographs are appropriate for you.

This entry was posted in Type on by admin.

Women’s Oral Health


With more than half of all women who reach age 50 in 2000 living to at least 80, lifelong oral health care is more important than ever.  Women’s oral health is affected by their different stages of life.  For many women, these changes are directly related to changes in hormone levels, such as in puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, and menopause.


Puberty-The surge in hormones that occurs during puberty may cause swollen gums, especially during menstruation.  Herpes-type lesions and ulcers also can develop.  Girls may experience sensitive gums that react more to irritants.

Pregnancy-Pregnant women have a risk for increased inflammation of the gums because of the surge in estrogen and progesterone.  If the plaque isn’t removed, it can cause gingivitis-red, swollen, tender gums that are more likely to bleed.  And, women with periodontal disease may be at risk for pre-term, low-birth weight babies.  They are also at risk for developing pregnancy tumors- inflammatory, benign growths that develop when swollen gums become irritated.  Usually, these tumors shrink soon after the pregnancy is over.  If a woman experiences morning sickness, it is important to neutralize the acid caused by vomiting which causes tooth erosion.  Patients can use a paste made of baking soda and water, rubbing it on the teeth.  After 30 seconds, rinse off the paste, then brush and floss.  If this is not possible, rinse with water.

Oral Contraceptives-Oral contraceptives mimic pregnancy because they contain progesterone or estrogen.  Therefore gingivitis may occur with long-term use.  Use of certain antibiotics while taking oral contraceptives can decrease its effectiveness.  Women who use birth control pills are twice as likely to develop dry sockets and should consult their dentist before scheduling major dental procedures.

Menopause-During menopause, some women can experience dry mouth, burning sensation, and changes in taste.  Gums can even become sore and sensitive.  Hormonal replacement therapy may cause gums to bleed, swell and become red.

Aging Factors– Osteoporosis can lead to erosion of the jawbone.  Since teeth prevent the jawbone from eroding, once a woman begins losing teeth, the jawbone can lose its shape, which leads to difficulties with implants and dentures.  Ill-fitting dentures can lead to mouth sores and a loss of oral function, such as the ability to speak and eat.

Arthritis limits the mobility of the hands and face joints which affect the quality of brushing and extended care of the teeth, thereby compounding oral health concerns.

Other factors-Diet pills and certain medications (over-the-counter and prescriptions) can decrease salivary flow, which puts patients at risk for cavities, gum disease, and discomfort.  Patients with eating disorders, such as bulimia (self-induced vomiting) can’t hide their symptoms from their dentists because the episodes of binging and purging cause erosion on the backside of the upper front teeth.  (An additional sign is sores that appear at the corners of the mouth.)  Smoking also creates a higher risk for periodontal disease.

With a personal oral health regimen and trips to the dentist at least twice each year for cleaning and screenings, women can maintain a healthy smile for life.  Next week I will talk about other oral health concerns that women can face.


This entry was posted in Adult Teeth on by admin.


Wisdom Teeth

Mother nature is generous when it comes to our teeth. First we get baby teeth, then permanent teeth, and finally around age 18 we start getting a set of molars called wisdom teeth.


 What are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are third molars. Normally people have three permanent molars that develop in each quadrant of the mouth. The first molars usually grow into the mouth at around six years of age. The second molars grow in at around age 12. The third molars usually will try to grow in at around age 18 to 20 years. Since that is considered to be the age when people become wiser, third molars gained the nickname, “wisdom teeth.” Actually, they are no different than any other tooth except that they are the last teeth to erupt, or grow into the mouth. They are just as useful as any other tooth if they grow in properly, have a proper bite relationship, and have healthy gum tissue around them.


 What is an impaction?

When wisdom teeth are prevented from erupting into the mouth properly, they are referred to as impacted.  A dentist must examine a patient’s mouth and his or her x-rays to determine if the teeth are impacted or will not grow in properly.  Impacted teeth may cause problems and can result in infection, decay of adjacent teeth, gum disease or formation of a cyst or tumor.  Many dentists recommend removal of impacted wisdom teeth to prevent potential problems.


Erupted Wisdom Teeth

Erupted wisdom teeth may also need to be removed. Your dentist may recommend this if the tooth is non-functional, interfering with the bite, badly decayed, involved with or at risk for periodontal disease, or interfering with restoration of an adjacent tooth.


 When should Wisdom Teeth Be Removed?

Many people have little or no concern when their wisdom teeth erupt.  On the other hand, there are also quite a few who have a lot of discomfort.  If you experience any of the following symptoms it may be time to have your wisdom teeth removed. 

  • pain
  • infection in the mouth
  • facial swelling
  • swelling of the gumline in the back of the mouth

Many dentists will recommend removal of the wisdom teeth when the roots are approximately three-fourths developed (usually in the adolescent years).  Early removal will help eliminate the problems listed above and alleviate the potential concern of an impacted tooth that destroys the second molar.


What is involved in the extraction procedure?

Wisdom tooth extraction involves accessing the tooth through the soft and hard tissue, gently detaching the connective tissue between the tooth and the bone and removing the tooth.  Each year millions of Americans have their wisdom teeth removed. The vast majority of patients heal flawlessly with little or no discomfort.


What is a dry socket?

However, a small percentage of patients experience dry socket (alveolar osteitis) the  most common post-operative complication from tooth extractions.   Dry socket is a painful condition that occurs when the blood clot in the extraction site does not form correctly or is prematurely lost.  The blood clot lays the foundation for new tissue and bone to develop.  Dry socket delays the healing process-much like picking at a scab on the knee delays the growth of new skin.  Research confirms that patient risk factors including smoking, taking oral contraceptives (the high estrogen levels can double the chance of a dry socket), and insufficient oral healthcare habits significantly increase one’s likelihood of dry socket.  Stop smoking for at least 24 hours after wisdom teeth extractions as it decreases blood supply to the area and brings toxic products that decreases healing.  Because of the estrogen levels, female patients should consider scheduling tooth extractions during days 23-28 of their menstrual cycle to reduce the risk.  Your oral surgeon or dentist will also offer other home care instructions that can help minimize the concern.

This entry was posted in Adult Teeth on by admin.

Why is My Tooth Hurting? Part 2


As I’ve mentioned before, there are a lot of things that can cause a tooth to hurt.  Last week I discussed dental pain caused by decay or gum disease.  It seems like this would be enough, but unfortunately there are other causes to dental pain that we need to evaluate.

Cracked Tooth Syndrome

If too much force is exerted on a tooth or it has a large filling, there is a strong possibility of cracking the remaining tooth structure.  Every week I see several people who have chipped, cracked or split their tooth.  Often there are warning signs of a crack.  A “craze line” will often appear on the tooth that can be seen by your dentist.  It looks like a small crack line and can occur on any surface of the tooth.  If a tooth is actually cracked, it will typically hurt when you bite on something.  The pain is usually worse when you release the biting force and will last for a very short period of time.  If you notice this, don’t ignore it and go see your dentist!  If the crack extends to the nerve of the tooth, an abscess that creates a lingering, more intense pain may occur.  If this does happen the treatment of choice would be a root canal.  If the tooth actually splits, there is little to do but remove the tooth.  At any stage, you can have pain with the tooth.

Sinus Infections

Allergies, colds, the flu and sinus infections are just a few of the situations where the maxillary sinuses (right under your cheek bones) can become infected or inflamed.  The roots of the upper molars are very close to, and in some cases, actually in the sinuses.  The sinuses can transmit the inflammation to the nerves of the teeth and make it feel like you have a toothache.  Typically, it is a generalized discomfort that makes it difficult to designate a single specific tooth that hurts.  I often have people come in complaining of a toothache, only to find that their sinuses are actually the problem and their teeth are fine.  Allergy medications or antibiotics are typically all that is needed to alleviate the discomfort in the tooth.

Referred muscular pain

Believe it or not you can get a referred pain from muscles of the face to the teeth.  People who clench and grind their teeth not only cause damage to the teeth and supporting structures, they also “overwork” the muscles and can cause spasms.  Think of it as a “charlie horse” in your jaw.  For instance, a spasm in the masseter muscle (if you put your hands on the side of your face and squeeze your teeth together, the muscle that bulges on each side is the masseter) can refer pain to the lower first molars.  Other muscles will refer pain to different teeth in the mouth.  Moist heat and anti-inflammatory medication are the treatment required to alleviate the symptoms.

As you can see, there are several causes of pain in a tooth.  Don’t ignore pain in your mouth, it may be something simple, but then again – it may not!  Prevention is the key.  The vast majority of dental disease (and pain!) is preventable, yet only 50% of the population sees the dentist on an annual basis.  Don’t be part of the percentage that neglects your teeth, your smile will appreciate it!

This entry was posted in What to do on by admin.


Why is My Tooth Hurting? Part 1

Anyone who has experienced a toothache will tell you it is one of the worst pains they have ever had.  I’ve had numerous women tell me they would rather experience childbirth than have a toothache!  In the past we have talked about sensitivity, but this week I will discuss a different kind of pain – one that lasts and is often unbearable.  There are a lot of things that can cause a tooth to hurt.  The two most common causes are decay and gum disease.  The good news is that with preventive care most of these toothaches can be avoided, the bad news is that most people often wait until it is too late.  By the time you feel pain, permanent damage to your tooth or supporting structures has already occurred.  Wouldn’t it be nicer to have a quick, tiny filling now than a root canal, crown or extraction later?  I thought so!

Dental Abscess

We all have bacteria in our mouths that show up in the form of plaque.  If not removed, the bacteria can erode the surface of a tooth creating a cavity.  The decay will eventually progress to a point that it involves the nerve of the tooth and an abscess will ultimately occur.  An abscess is an infection caused by the “death” of the nerve and blood vessels that supply the tooth.  As the tissue dies it creates an infection that is forced out the end of the root.  The infection causes pressure to build at the end of the root and then comes the pain.  It’s common for the pain to come and go a few times until it eventually hurts and doesn’t go away.  As an abscess progresses, it erodes the supporting bone at the end of the root creating a “hole” that shows up on a radiograph (x-ray).  Left alone, the infection will either cause swelling of the face or create a drain hole in the bone called a fistula.  A root canal or extraction are the treatment choices when the disease has progressed to this point.

Periodontal (Gum) Abscess

The bacteria in our mouths are also responsible for a painful abscess of the gums.  Most people think a tooth is fused directly to the bone, but it isn’t.  All teeth have a ligament that attaches it to bone.  Think of it as a sock that covers the root of a tooth.  The sock attaches between the tooth and the bone.  It’s a wonderful system the good Lord created because it acts like a “shock absorber” that can protect the teeth.  The gums we see in our mouth don’t intimately attach all of the way up a tooth.  At the very top it lies next to the tooth and creates a “pocket” just above the supporting ligament (sock).  A way to visualize it is to think of the lower part of the sock as being glued to the tooth, while the upper part (where the elastic of a sock would be) hugs to the tooth, but isn’t attached.  Plaque (bacteria) collects in the pocket and secretes acids and toxins that erode the ligament (glue) and dissolves bone creating a deeper pocket that is difficult to clean.  It usually isn’t painful in the early to moderate stages of the disease but as the pocket deepens it progresses into a painful infection of the gums.  By the time you have pain from an abscess of the gums, typically the only treatment alternatives are periodontal (gum) surgery or extraction.  Having your teeth professionally cleaned and examined on a regular basis is crucial to prevention of the disease and avoidance of pain.

Next week, I will cover other causes for a painful tooth.


This entry was posted in What to do on by admin.

Whitening Your Teeth

My high school reunion is coming up next summer.  I would like to say it is my ten year, but that isn’t even close!  Typically people try to get “back in shape” when it is time to renew old acquaintances (although the older I get, the less I care!).  Part of getting back into shape may involve whitening your teeth.  Whatever the occasion, tooth whitening isn’t just for the movie stars, and it isn’t for just one day.  Everybody loves a bright, white smile.  Patients often ask me about changing the appearance of their teeth, but aren’t sure what options are available.  Although you have many choices to achieving a beautiful smile, I’d like to talk with you in this article about whitening.

Let’s talk about why teeth darken in the first place.  Unfortunately, a lot of things can cause your teeth to lose their natural luster.  Bad news for all of you coffee and tea drinkers – over time they will stain your teeth.  Several fruits and fruit drinks also have the same result.  Smoking is notorious for darkening your pearly whites as well as having many dangerous side effects to your health.  In some instances, the medications you are taking could discolor your teeth.  Still another possible cause is that, as you age, the outer layer of enamel on your teeth can get worn away to reveal the darker tooth structure underneath. 

Whitening procedures are effective in the vast majority of people, but whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration.  Talk with your dentist to see if you are a candidate for whitening.

Several products are available for whitening teeth.  Some of these include:


Toothpastes:  All toothpastes help remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives.  Some “whitening” toothpastes have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness.  Unlike peroxide based whiteners, these products do not alter the intrinsic color of the teeth.

Whitening Solutions: These products contain peroxides which will actually bleach the tooth enamel.  These products typically rely on carbamide peroxide as the whitening agent and come in a variety of concentrations.  Crest Whitestrips have been utilized by many patients over the last few years.  These adhesive strips are placed on your front teeth and can be purchased over-the-counter or at your dentist (The box you get from the dentist has a larger supply and stronger concentration than over-the-counter).  The Whitestrips do work and have the advantage of being less expensive, but often contain a lower concentration of the whitening agent and only cover the front six teeth.

Many patients choose to have their dentist provide higher concentrations of the whitener in a custom-fitted mouthguard that fits their teeth precisely.  Your dentist will make impressions of your teeth to fabricate a clear mouthguard that is lightweight and can be worn comfortably while awake or sleeping. Usage regimens vary depending on your specific needs and will typically be completed in 2-6 weeks.  The advantage of mouthguards is that they may be used over and over again as you want to “touch up” the brightness of your teeth.


In-Office Whitening: If you are in a hurry and are a candidate for whitening, your dentist may suggest a procedure that can be done in his of her office while you sit in the dental chair.  The procedure is called chairside whitening and may require more than one office visit.  Each visit will take approximately one hour where your dentist will apply a whitening agent to the teeth.  It is activated either chemically, by a special light or lasers.  The advantage of chairside whitening is that you achieve dramatic whitening in a very short period of time.


 Side Effects? Several studies during the past five years have proven bleaching to be safe and effective.  Some patients may experience slight gum irritation or tooth sensitivity which will resolve when the treatment ends. 


No one can really predict how much lighter your teeth will become.  Every case is different.  The success rate depends upon the type of stain involved and your compliance.  I hope this helps in your decision making process.

This entry was posted in Type on by admin.


Vitamins and Herbs

Books on alternative medicine fill the shelves at the local bookstore.  Authors, gurus, doctors and “healers” work the talk show circuit.  Late night television info-mercials pitch the latest vitamins, herbs, diets and exercise programs.  More and more, alternative medicine fights for a person’s attention.  I am a fan of taking vitamin and herbal supplements, but as with everything, they should be taken in moderation and only when someone knows the facts about what each will do. 

Patients should always tell their dentist about any medications and supplements they are taking and how much they take.  From vitamins to echinacea, everything a person puts in their body causes a certain reaction, and some alternative medicines are very potent.  That reaction can interfere with medications a dentist gives or enhance them to cause a much stronger reaction.  If the dentist doesn’t know what drugs or supplements have been taken, he or she will not know how to protect a patient from possible substance interactions.

Even the most common herbal and vitamin supplements can have serious side effects for some patients.  Blood thinners, such as the popular ginko biloba and even vitamin E can be dangerous when taken with aspirin, which also acts as a blood thinner.  Because this may cause a situation in which some patients’ blood will have difficulty clotting, serious surgical procedures should be avoided after taking such a combination of supplements.

Vitamins can cause concerns as well, if you aren’t careful.  Vitamin C, when taken daily in the thousands of grams can cause problems and weaken the efficiency of anesthesia.  In other words, it is harder to get someone numb.  On the other hand, if a patient is taking a calming supplement, such as Kava Kava or St. John’s Wort, the effects of dental anesthesia may be enhanced and cause problems.

Dandelion and bearberry are both herbal supplements that are said to work as a diuretic.  These can interact with and over-enhance the effects of prescription diuretics, which can lead to dehydration, loss of potassium in the body, and even disrupt heart-rhythm.

Many patients who take alternative medicines may not tell their dentist. They may not think it is important or they are afraid the dentist will not respect their decision to take herbal medications. The truth is, as herbal medications become more popular, many dentists are beginning to use them in their practices.  Your dentist might even have an alternative, herbal solution for you.

It is important that the dentist has all the information, including a patient’s medical history, herbal medication and conventional drugs they are taking.  If the dentist knows a person is taking a medication that can interact with something he or she is planning on giving, there are a variety of solutions from which to choose. A dentist may have the patient stop taking the herbal medication until the treatment is over, or choose a different drug for treatment, if one is available.

I take supplements myself and believe, in many instances, they can do a lot of good.  The important thing is to always let your health care provider know if you take them as well.  For your own good, it’s essential that they know!

<--- Older Posts

Contact Us.We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form.