The summer before I left for college, I had my wisdom teeth removed. Ouch! While the procedure itself was not too traumatic or painful, I ended up with dry sockets where my bottom two teeth had been extracted. Let me just say, dry sockets are not something I would wish upon my worst enemy. They result in raw, excruciating pain.
One way to decrease your chances for getting dry sockets following a tooth extraction is to get off hormonal contraceptives.
According to the cover story of the June 2016 Journal of the American Dental Association, a medical journal for dentists, women on the Pill are almost twice as likely to develop dry sockets as women not using hormonal contraceptives (13.9% vs. 7.5% respectively). Women were found to already be at a slightly increased risk compared to men, and smokers understandably have a 9.8% increased risk (2). Researchers gathered 29 articles in order to compare data and get better statistical backing to explain risk factors for dry sockets. According to the Louisville Dental Associates, who provided a great comprehensive review of the article, one weakness of the study is that participants’ brand and dosage of hormonal birth control was not gathered (3).
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Normally, a blood clot forms at the site of a tooth extraction. [It] serves as a protective layer over the underlying bone and nerve endings in the empty tooth socket. The clot also provides the foundation for the growth of new bone and for the development of soft tissue over the clot.” A dry socket occurs when the blood clot dissolves before the wound heals (1). Treatment of dry sockets can include pain relievers (both over the counter and prescription) as well as frequent cleansing and in-office dressing of the socket(s) to promote healing.
What does hormonal birth control have to do with dental health? To answer this question, it’s important to remember that our body is interconnected. No one system of the body is totally separable or independent from the others. For instance, if a person’s lungs fail, a lack of oxygenated blood will cause the heart to stop beating and the person could experience brain failure shortly afterward. Three separate organs would all be affected by trauma to one organ in a matter of minutes. In the case of tooth extraction, the healing process of the socket seems to be hindered by the high level of artificial estrogen from oral contraceptives.
The medical community has only scraped the surface of the impact that hormonal birth control has on the body. These side effects go beyond impacting reproductive health and fertility. The Louisville Dental Associates concluded their post by saying, “If you’re considering having wisdom teeth extracted, make sure to discuss what type of birth control, if any, you’re taking with your Louisville dentist” (3). Even better advice would be to steer women toward educating themselves on alternatives to hormonal contraceptives like Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABM).
Whether you are a dentist or doctor and you are concerned about the harmful side effects of hormonal contraceptives and their effect on women, we at Natural Womanhood would love to share our brochures that describe Fertility Awareness Based Methods with you. Click here.
- Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-socket/basics/definition/con-20025990
- Bienek, Diane R and James J. Filliben. “Risk Assessment and sensitivity meta-analysis of alveolar osteitis occurrence in oral contraceptive users.” American Journal of Dentistry. Vol. 147, no. 6 (June 2016): 394-404.
- Are Women at a Higher Risk of a Dry Socket? https://ldadentist.com/2016/07/22/women-higher-risk-dry-socke