Dental Work and Knee Replacement (Possible Infection?)

Can a tooth infection create a problem for you after knee replacement surgery?

Let’s find out.

If you develop an infection in and around your knee after knee replacement, it can be one of the worst complications to occur. Because doctors want to avoid infections, you’ll probably be advised to avoid dental work immediately after your TKR.

But how is a new knee connected to your teeth?

In this article we’ll find out why you should be aware of going to the dentist after surgery.

Above all, follow the recommendations of your surgeon and dentist. It may make a difference depending on the dental procedure you need.

A routine cleaning might receive different advice than a more invasive work like a root canal.

Your personal health status is important to consider too. If you have a compromised immune system or you have an active infection in your mouth you may be at greater risk.

My Surgeon’s Instructions About Dental Work Post TKR

My surgeon advised me to avoid any dental work including routine cleaning for 4 to 6 months post TKR. He also told me that if I had an emergency and needed invasive dental work that I should call his office and that he might prescribe an antibiotic for me to take prior to my dental visit.

I usually have my teeth cleaned every 6 months but to be on the safe side I was able to wait 10 months for my routine cleaning after TKR.

Fortunately, I did not have any dental problems that required immediate work.

It has been two months since my routine cleaning and so far, no problems.

Some doctors suggest that you have your teeth cleaned and have any other dental work done a few months prior to your surgery.

Why Should You Be Concerned About Dental Work Post TKR

Let’s explore why this is important.

“There is limited evidence demonstrating an association between dental treatment and prosthetic joint infection (PJI). Case reports and retrospective studies that suggest a relationship between dental treatment and PJI are usually cited as justification for continuing to use antibiotic prophylaxis. Current international guidelines do not support the use of antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent PJI”

Arthroplasty Today Journal

There seems to be some controversy in the medical profession if there is evidence directly linking dental procedures to implant infection. According to some doctors during a dental procedure, it’s possible for bacteria from your mouth, teeth or gums to travel through your bloodstream and settle in your artificial joint.

A joint infection is one of the worst-case scenarios for patients and surgeons alike.

Some doctors recommend antibiotics before dental work.  Other doctors say there is not enough evidence to prove the link. My doctor felt some precaution was needed when he advised me to wait to have dental work after TKR.

He also made it very clear that I was to call his office if emergency dental work was required.

It can be very confusing when you read about the pros and cons associated with dental work post TKR. The best case scenario seems to be to avoid routine cleaning for several months after TKR and to have preventive work done before TKR and then to hope you have no other dental issues following your TKR.

You should avoid eating foods that may have an adverse effect on your teeth or existing fillings. Don’t do things like crack open nuts with your teeth, avoid sugar and eat more soft foods for a few months after surgery.

You may have to make adjustments to your regular diet too.

Conclusion

Take care of any routine cleaning or needed dental work prior to your surgery.

In summary, it’s wise to wait as long as you can to visit the dentist post TKR. Avoid foods that may increase your risk to need dental work.

Develop good habits of brushing and cleaning your own teeth on a regular basis.

TKR is serious business and the rehab and recovery should be your major focus. You don’t need any other complications that will impede your recovery progress.

Above all, follow the recommendations of your surgeon and your dentist.

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