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If you're one of the increasing number of people who are using alternative medicines, don't forget that they, too, are drugs, and that you need to report your use of them to your dentist and other health care providers in order to prevent potentially harmful interactions with any prescribed medications or treatments.

"Consumers tend to forget that the ginseng tablets, multivitamins and herbal teas they take are considered drugs. Although most alternative medicines are not prescribed, any herbal remedy regularly used is considered a drug and should be reported to dentists and physicians," says Dr. Eric Z. Shapira, spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry.

Shapira cites as an example the use of herbal teas. Herbal teas are known for their relaxing and soothing qualities but they can also lower a patient's blood pressure, thereby putting the patient at risk of fainting while reclining in a dental chair for extended periods of time. So the next time your dentist asks about your health, be sure to share any updates in your medical history, including both traditional and alternative remedies, medicines and pills of any kind that you use.

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