Nobody likes having teeth pulled. However, at times it's necessary to extract a diseased or damaged tooth before proceeding with some types of cosmetic work, such as placing a dental implant. While tooth extractions are generally safe, sometimes precautions are required to minimize the risk of complications developing. For people who have periods, that may mean scheduling extraction work around certain times in the menstrual cycle. Here's more information about this issue.
Increased Estrogen May Increase Risk of Dry Socket
One major complication associated with tooth extractions is dry socket. This is an extremely painful condition caused by the blood clot that normally forms at the extraction site to become dislodged or dissolve, leaving the nerves and jawbone exposed. The pain typically lasts for several days, and the condition can actually hinder your cosmetic dentistry procedure because it may take longer for the site to heal.
There are several things that increase a person's risk of getting dry socket, such as smoking or not taking proper care of the extraction site. For women and transgender individuals who have periods, increased estrogen levels during the menstrual cycle are one of those risk factors. In fact, women are twice as likely as men to get dry socket if they take birth control pills or have the extraction done during the days of their cycles when their estrogen levels are the highest (usually around days 12-14 and 21-22).
Researchers are unsure exactly why this is, but it's believed that estrogen enhances fibrinolytic activity in the body. This is a process that actively breaks down blood clots, which is necessary for helping dissolve the uterine lining during menstruation. Unfortunately, all blood clots in the body may be impacted by this process, including the clot that forms in the mouth after tooth extraction surgery.
Avoiding Dry Socket After Tooth Extraction
Women and other people whose estrogen levels spike during certain times of the month should postpone tooth extraction surgery to days when estrogen levels are their lowest. Typically, this will be around the first seven days of the menstrual cycle. People who are not actively menstruating but still have fluctuating estrogen levels may want to work with their family doctors to determine when their levels are lowest and schedule the tooth extraction for that time period. This will help minimize the risk of the blood clot in the pocket being dislodged or dissolved.
As briefly noted previously, people who take birth control pills are also at a higher risk of developing dry socket. This is because these pills contain estrogen and progestin, which only adds to what naturally occurs in the person's body. While birth control pills are designed to prevent pregnancy, they are often prescribed to help regulate hormone levels in people who may have chronically low levels these female sex hormones, such as menopausal women. Therefore, it's probably best to have the tooth extraction surgery during the time period when you're taking the sugar pills rather than the ones that contain the actual hormones.
Other things you can do to prevent dry socket include:
- Avoid smoking or drinking substances through a straw; this causes a vacuum in the mouth that can pull the clot out by force.
- Avoid rinsing the mouth out for about a day after the surgery to give the clot time to form.
- When rinsing the mouth, do so gently and avoid disturbing the socket as much as possible.
- Eat soft foods such as eggs, soup, or mashed potatoes that don't require much chewing.
- Avoid drinking carbonated drinks or eating anything that may leave crumbs behind such as licorice candy, popcorn, or pasta.
For more information about this issue or tips on preventing drying socket after tooth extraction surgery, contact a cosmetic dentist.