A 2017 photo shows a field of pineapples in Benin ( AFP / Yanick Folly)

Dental experts do not recommmend drinking pineapple juice before tooth extraction

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

Social media posts claim that drinking large quantities of pineapple juice before wisdom tooth surgery is an effective way to reduce inflammation and could result in a pain-free recovery. But doing so is not recommended by US dental associations and experts, and there is no established evidence that it will have a significant effect on patient recuperation.

"Yup, it's true. Drinking pineapple juice before and even after you take your wisdom teeth out can help you heal faster," a woman says in a video shared in a September 2, 2021 Facebook post from BuzzFeed's Tasty.

The video in the post, viewed more than four million times, contains a compilation of clips posted on TikTok here and here by two separate individuals documenting their experience after drinking 64 ounces of pure pineapple juice prior to wisdom tooth extraction.

Screenshot taken on September 9, 2021 shows a video shared on Facebook

Similar recommendations were shared by Twitter users here and here

The US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) says there are "conflicting research results on whether bromelain is helpful for pain, swelling, and jaw range of motion after wisdom tooth surgery."

But professional dental associations and other health experts say it is not a recommended treatment for reducing the impact of wisdom tooth extractions, and could even cause harm.

"As of now, I have not been able to verify any scientific information or valid evidence that drinking pineapple juice before having wisdom teeth removed has any documented benefits," Brittany Seymour, a spokeswoman for the American Dental Association who has been a practicing dentist and is currently an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, told AFP.

Jolene Kremer, head of communications for the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, agreed.

"I reached out to our top researchers and editors and none have heard of this as a treatment," he said.

Drinking pineapple juice might even backfire, experts say.

"Pineapple juice would be a weak anti-inflammatory agent at best. Any anti-inflammatory action it might have may be counteracted by its acidic nature, which can be pro-inflammatory," Jamie Alan an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University.  "Also 64 ounces is quite a bit of pineapple juice. Taking some acetaminophen or ibuprofen for the pain (check with your doctor first) would be a better idea."

Seymour also cautioned that it may be unwise to consume such quantities of fruit juice: "That's a lot of sugar, a lot of acid, which to me raises concerns beyond the benefit that a person might get" from the pineapple enzyme.

It is not clear why the pineapple juice idea gained traction recently.

One small study of 34 patients at Spain's University of Seville published in 2014 sought to "evaluate the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect of bromelain (pineapple extract)" after tooth extraction and found "no statistical difference" between those given the enzyme and those who took a placebo, but suggested further research may be warranted.

Jarred Abel, who has medical and dental degrees and is a board-certified oral surgeon practicing in the Washington, DC area, said several patients had asked him in recent weeks about ingesting pineapple juice before tooth extractions.

"I don't tell them not to drink pineapple juice, but we don't have any hard evidence that it has a significant impact," Abel said.

He said a number of patients have minimal inflammation in which no incision is required. In more complex cases that see patients experience difficult recoveries, "we have method we know that work both in studies and in practice," including anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.

According to Seymour, wisdom tooth problems can vary widely from person to person. She noted that some individuals have "a petty smooth experience" while others can experience considerable pain and complications. But for many people the prospect of wisdom tooth removal "can provoke a lot of anxiety."

Some dentists continue to prescribe opioids for pain following wisdom tooth extraction, but this has declined as practitioners become aware of the risks of opioid abuse, Seymour said, adding that patients can get through the recovery "with the right combination of over-the-counter medications."

AFP Fact Check has debunked other inaccurate health-related claims here.

September 10, 2021 This article was updated to remove an extraneous letter.