Dread dental pain? I sure do. Over the past two years, I’ve had two failed dental surgeries and a subsequent tooth extraction because of a (very much now former) dentist smashing the root of my tooth to smithereens while installing a new crown (thanks, dude). Now I’m facing the absolute joy of getting a dental implant, which involves more slicing, dicing and drilling. PS: Did I mention it’s my front tooth? Yup, fun times.
Anyway, thanks to research examining the intensity of dental procedure pain throughout the menstrual cycle (including this and this), I know which week of my cycle is best to have surgeries, extractions and implants. And, I’m bringing this up now because a new study in the Journal of Orofacial Orthopedics supports previous findings that point to a specific time in our cycle when dental procedure discomfort is lowest.
So, I’m here to tell you that based on these studies (and plenty of recent personal experience), the best time of your monthly cycle to have a dental procedure is your Week 2–the week right after your period, which is the one leading up to and including ovulation.
On these days, high estrogen blunts your perception of pain. Plus, you tend to be less anxious and more confident than you are in your premenstrual week and the first few days of your cycle when estrogen is low, which also keeps a lid on intense discomfort.
Now, just to be clear, this high hormone isn’t going to make your dental surgery, extraction or other procedure totally pain-free. You’ll still be cursing your dentists, endodontists, orthodontists and periodontists the moment you leave their offices, wishing many violent and ugly things to happen to them for the misdeeds that just transpired in your mouth. However, compared to the pain you’d experience on other days in your cycle, you’ll actually feel just a bit less hatred in your heart for them.
Something key to keep in mind: Many women feel more anxiety during their Week 2 due to high estrogen. If this is the case with you, then try to schedule your procedure in the days right after your period ends, but before estrogen climbs super-high–for instance, your Day 5, 6, 7 or 8.
If that’s not possible or you simply need added anti-anxiety therapy, then bring your iPod with you and play your favorite tunes. Research shows that listening to music during dental procedures reduces anxiety and, subsequently, pain. I do this myself and even made my own dental procedure mix–which includes lots of Linkin Park, Rage Against the Machine and other expletive-ridden angry tunes that match my “I can’t believe I’m in this stupid dental chair again” irritated mood, which actually helps. But, that’s just me. You might prefer calmer, more genteel music, so experiment till you find what works best for you.