Women who use birth control pills are twice as likely to develop dry socket after a tooth extraction.
Dry socket, the most common post-operative complication from tooth extractions, delays the normal healing process and results when the newly formed blood clot in the extraction site does not form correctly or is prematurely lost. This blood clot lays the foundation for new tissue and bone to develop over a two-month healing process.
"Women have a greater chance than men to develop dry socket," says Barbara A. Rich, DDS, FAGD, and Academy spokesperson. "But, for women who take oral contraceptives, their likelihood of developing a dry socket is twice as likely because of their increased estrogen level."
A study recently published in General Dentistry, the clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, reports that women who take oral contraceptives experienced a 31 percent incidence of dry socket after molar extractions performed in the first 22 days of their menstrual cycle. Within two to three days after estrogen use was discontinued, the extraction site tissue began the healing process. For women whose molar extractions were performed on days 23 through 28 of their cycle, no incidence of dry socket occurred.
"Unless there is an emergency, women using birth control should try to schedule their extractions during the last week of their cycle, when estrogen levels are inactive," recommends Dr. Rich. "The healing process can then begin immediately."
Anyone who just had a tooth extracted should avoid drinking through a straw, because the suction will interfere with healthier clotting. "Avoid smoking, which can contaminate the extraction site and excessive mouth rinsing, which may also interfere with blood clotting," says Dr. Rich.