A thorough dental examination for presence of tooth and gum infection
is recommended prior to joint replacement.
Periodontal disease is a commonly occurring oral infection of
the adult population (80% of adults are affected) destroying the
bony support of the teeth. This infection slowly progresses over
the lifetime of the patient and is often manifested in the advanced
stage in the senior population.
Because of the lack of any discomfort to the patient until total
loss of bony support to the teeth, many adults are unaware that
they have this infection. However, the bacteria from this bone
destroying disease, especially in the more advanced cases, has
been attributed to possible infection of joint replacements.
Candidates for joint replacements who have not been seen by a
dentist in over a year should be considered for a thorough dental
evaluation of their teeth and gums before surgery.
Depending on the severity of the infection, treatment of gum
infections and tooth abscesses may take from two weeks to two
months before the patient reaches adequate health before surgery.
If you have any questions about infection in joint replacements,
please call our office.
A recent survey of dental patients showed that patient protection
was #1 on their list of concerns about dental care. Some patients
have even quit going to the dentist because of their fears.
Fortunately, trips to the dentist have never been safer. The
case in Florida where the patient was apparently infected with
the AIDS virus by her dentist is the only such case out of tens
of millions of dental treatments performed since the introduction
of the virus. The Center for Disease Control still does not know
the method of infection.
However, even one case is too many. We have responded by adopting
"universal (or standard) precautions". These involve
sterilizing all instruments in dry-heat ovens or steam autoclaves
to kill any bacteria. Disposable items are used whenever possible.
The chance of contracting an infection in the dental chair is
extremely remote, but the chance of losing one's teeth because
of lack of proper dental care is extremely likely.