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Dental Neglect and Infections Following Joint Surgery Replacements

There are about 800,000 knee and hip joint operations done in the United States each year.  For many of the reason to undergo this type of surgery is to reduce the unbearable pain and decrease mobility.  The cost per surgery is anywhere from $125,000-250,000.  This includes the surgeon’s fee, hospitalization, anesthesia, medications, drugs, supplies and physical therapy that accompanies the lengthy rehabilitation period over the next several weeks.

Perhaps, an often overlooked potential complication that the individual fails to realize, who will require joint replacement is that chronic periodontal disease or neglected dental caries can contribute to an infection post total joint surgery.  This not only may cause a poorer outcome or failure of the prosthesis, but it may lead to another joint operation.

Thus, a closer look at your dental health is warranted for those of you who know that a joint replacement is in the future.  You will want to undergo a thorough dental exam and evaluate the health of the gums, teeth, and dental restorations.  More active dental hygiene visits will be needed as well as more current dental x-rays.  This should include individual teeth x-rays and 3-D (CBCT) x-rays that will determine if there are any infections within the jawbones and sinuses at the same time.

Several orthopedic surgeons and surgical centers have become better familiar with poor surgical results and infections that have been a result of dental neglect or delayed dental care by the patient.  Therefore, the individual will enhance their joint surgical result and look forward to resumption of a healthier and more active lifestyle of obtaining greater dental care.  This is especially true as our active “baby boomers” get older.


Lawrence Zager, DDS

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