If you're planning a tooth extraction, the last thing you might expect to discuss with your dentist is the contraception you take. However, if you're on an oral contraceptive, this is a conversation you need to be having. Why?
Oestrogen and Extraction Bleeding
The oestrogen in oral contraceptives can affect the way your body deals with bleeding. Given that you'll bleed after having a tooth extracted, the pill you take may affect your recovery time and the healing process.
After an extraction, a blood clot forms over the hole where your tooth once was. This clot seals the hole to stop further bleeding and to protect the inside of the extraction site while it heals. However, the oestrogen in your oral contraceptives can counter this clotting, making it more likely that the clot will fail to form correctly or that it will fall out before it should.
While this may not seem to be a major issue, your primary aim after having a tooth extracted is to keep this clot in place. If you lose it too early, the socket site and its bones and nerves are exposed and unprotected. This can lead to a condition known as dry socket. While your dentist can treat a dry socket for you, it can be an extremely painful problem that you should actively try to avoid. For this reason, your dentist needs to know that you are taking the pill so that you can minimise the chances of getting a dry socket in the first place.
Timing Your Extraction
While being on the contraceptive pill increases your risk of developing a dry socket, your dentist can take steps to reduce the chances that you'll have this kind of problem by timing your extraction carefully.
Typically, you'll have the lowest amount of oestrogen in your body during days 23-28 of your tablet cycle. Therefore, if you're on the pill, your dentist may recommend that you have your tooth out on one of these days to take advantage of your lowered oestrogen levels. This will hopefully allow the blood clot to form as it should.
Bear in mind that while timing can help reduce the risk of dry socket, your birth control pills still put you at a higher risk of developing problems. For this reason, it's important to follow your dentist's post-extraction care instructions carefully to make sure you give the blood clot the best chance of staying in place.