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Can I Eat Before My Dentist Appointment?

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A woman with diabetes eats her breakfast before going to her dentist appointment.

When a person visits the dentist at least a couple of times a year for examinations and cleanings, it pays to know the do’s and don’ts before you go. Being prepared can help reduce or prevent dental anxiety, which is relatively common.

As helpful as the internet is, there can be a lot of misinformation out there. One myth we’re tackling today is whether or not you should eat before a dentist appointment. We’ll also discuss some practical ways to prepare for your next visit.  

Can I Eat Before My Dentist Appointment?

At one time, many dentists recommended that you don’t eat for around 5 hours before an appointment. But that’s no longer the most common recommendation. In fact, many dentists agree that you should eat something before going to see them.

There are actually a few good reasons that suggest eating before an appointment is beneficial:

  • More relaxed: Even if a person doesn’t struggle with dental anxiety, many people still aren’t comfortable. Eating a high-protein meal can help you feel satiated for longer and help you feel relaxed. A good meal like this will also give you energy if the appointment is longer.
  • Managing another condition: Diabetes is an example of a condition primarily managed through diet in many cases. If you’re skipping a meal for a dentist appointment, it could actually cause more problems than you’re solving. Even if you don’t have diabetes, skipping a meal could cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate, which could cause dizziness and lightheadedness.
  • Assist the process: When we go for an extended length of time without eating, our saliva glands tend to go into overdrive and create much more saliva. This typically isn’t an issue. But in some cases, an excessive amount of spit could cause issues. For example, the mouth needs to be dry if you’re in for a filling or dental bonding. 
A young woman is biting citrus fruit with her teeth. A dentist may suggest not drinking or eating acidic food before the appointment.

Avoiding Certain Food or Drinks

It may be smart to have a healthy meal before seeing your dentist, but there are certainly some things you should avoid in those meals:

  • Citrus Food or Drinks: On one hand, chugging a glass of orange juice before the appointment will likely lead to an unpleasant flavour when the dental hygienist puts polishing paste in your mouth. But more than that, acidic food and drinks weaken your teeth’s enamel. Typically it rehardens in about 30 minutes once the source of the acid is gone. If the professional cleaning begins before the enamel hardens, there’s a risk of permanent damage.
  • Stringy or Crunchy Food: Things like beef jerky or popcorn are common culprits for leaving chunks of food in all the cracks between your teeth. If you have time to floss and brush your teeth before your appointment, these aren’t totally off the table. But it could add a lot of work for the dental hygienist if you don’t clean your teeth after snacking on something like this.

Other Things to Avoid Before Visiting the Dentist

Food aside, there are other things you should avoid before seeing your dentist:

  • Smoking: If you can, you should avoid smoking for several hours before an appointment. Some people are extremely sensitive to the smell, and it could cause complications with your appointment if any of the staff is allergic.
  • Lots of Makeup: Some eyeliner or eyeshadow is likely fine in most cases. Depending on what you’re seeing the dentist for, the area around your mouth could get messy. So, avoiding things like lipstick or foundation is a good idea until after your appointment.
  • No Alcohol: Most people wouldn’t consider drinking in the middle of the day. But considering the anxiety that sometimes surrounds a visit to the dentist, having a drink before is more common than one might think. The only problem with this is the possible interactions the alcohol could have with any medication the dentist might prescribe during the procedure.
  • Avoid Contact Lenses: Avoiding wearing contacts is primarily for before dental surgery. If the dentist needs to put you to sleep with anesthetic, there’s a good chance your eyes will need to remain closed for an extended period. If you wear contacts already, you likely understand how this could cause some uncomfortable symptoms of dry, itchy eyes or even hypoxia in your eye. 

Talk to Your Dentist About Your Next Visit

Now you know that you can and should have a meal before your appointment and you know what to avoid, it’s worth mentioning that there can always be exceptions. If you’re scheduled for anything more than a recall dental exam and cleaning, calling the dentist beforehand to check is a good idea.

Give us a call at Rockwood Dental today. Our knowledgeable staff can help ensure you’re prepared for your scheduled procedure.

Written by Rockwood Dental

At Rockwood Dental, our goal is to help you achieve the healthy and beautiful smile you’ve always dreamed of.

Our team is committed to providing a personalized dental experience from beginning to end. To do this, we offer a range of dental services, including preventative dental care, restorative dental care, and cosmetic dental care.

Rockwood Dental is located at #102, 1032 17th ave., between 9th and 10th Street SW in Calgary.

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