You May Want to Visit the Dentist Beforehand
by Boyd W. Haynes III, MD
A new study out of Taiwan suggests that having your teeth cleaned by a dentist regularly can reduce your risk of infection subsequent to a knee replacement surgery. The features editor of DrBicuspid.com, Donna Domino, reported that 1,291 patients over the age of 40 were followed after having a TKA (total Knee Arthroplasty). What did these patients have in common? They all developed an infection in their replaced joint within five years of their first surgery, which then required a revision surgery.
In the three year period before their knee replacement, ¾ of these patients had never had a dental checkup or cleaning. It was also found that when these patients did brush their teeth, more bacteria (from periodontal disease) was circulating in their blood.
Alternatively, patients who had a dental cleaning at least 5-6 times within three years were 31% less likely to get a post-operative infection after TKA. Even one cleaning within that three year period was helpful and reduced the risk of post-operative infection after TKA to 20%.
What can we take from this study? I think it is obvious that taking good care of your body, including your teeth, can be helpful in reducing post-operative complications from any surgery. We know that patients who have periodontal disease are at greater risk for developing cardiac issues. Periodontal disease also increases the risk for certain types of cancers, diabetes, respiratory problems, etc.
If you have dental issues, I will always recommend that you see your dentist before we even talk about joint replacement surgery. I want you to have the best possible outcome from your joint replacement and getting a big infection is not a great way to start things off during recovery. Who knew brushing and flossing regularly could help your knee? It is all connected, after all.