Liver Clots: An Uncommon Complication To A Common Tooth Extraction

Having a tooth extracted is generally a fairly simple procedure. A lot of people opt for extractions when a tooth is badly damaged or severely infected, especially if the tooth is a back molar and not visible when they smile. However, a rare complication known as "liver clots" or "currant jelly clots" can be especially disconcerting. Here's what you should know.

1.) They look worse than they are.

Liver clots get their name because of their dark red color. They're large, bulbous, and look a lot like blobs of jelly as well (which is how they get their other name). They're a relatively rare complication following an extraction, forming when the blood from the open wound (where the tooth was removed) slowly oozes out and clots against the gumline or other teeth.

They look scary, but you may not realize that you even have one until you look in the mirror and examine the extraction site. Because they're essentially just blood clots that have formed outside of the hole where your tooth used to be, they're actually painless.

2.) Call your dentist and make an appointment.

Even though there isn't any particular reason to panic, you want your dentist to know what is happening. Don't deviate from your post-surgical instructions, whatever they are, unless your dentist tells you otherwise. Don't poke, prod, or otherwise disturb the clot -- blood clots are a natural defense against bacterial infections and help protect wound sites. This particular clot may not be in the right place, but you want your dentist to decide how to handle it.

3.) Your dentist may leave it alone or surgically remove it.

Depending on the location of the liver clot (or clots, if there are more than one), your dentist may have you leave it alone until your body naturally reabsorbs the clot. Alternately, if your dentist is concerned that it could lead to additional healing delays, he or she may gently clip the clot off of your gum.

If your gum is still oozing blood, your dentist may decide to suture the wound rather than allow another clot to form.

4.) You may need antibiotics and some blood tests.

Because liver clots are fairly rare, your dentist may be concerned about the presence of infection or an undiagnosed clotting disorder. If you have a medical history that already includes some form of auto-immune disorder or a history of prolonged bleeding, the liver clot could be related.

Your dentist will also likely check your mouth and ask questions to determine if you have any extra splinters of bone that were missed during the extraction, a piece of surgical dressing that's somehow caused the clot, or have experienced any trauma to the site following surgery (like an accidental bump on the jaw when someone hugged you). Any of those things could increase the likelihood of a liver clot.