Never Take This Popular Supplement Before Going to the Dentist

Before going in for a dental procedure, it’s good to be prepared. Brushing your teeth,…

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.

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Sliced Orange Next to a Glass of Orange Juice
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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.

Man Gets His Teeth Numbed
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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.

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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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“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.”

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Plate of Sliced Oranges and Strawberries
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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.”

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