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While you may think there’s little connection between your teeth and gums and your hip joint, there are times when these two areas of your health meet. More specifically, if you’re planning to undergo hip replacement surgery, we recommend that you get cleared by your dentist beforehand to lower your risk for postoperative infection.
At Western Orthopaedics, our hip specialist, Dr. Brian White, understands that your road to deciding to replace your hip joint(s) was a tough and painful one. Our goal is to put an end to your discomfort, so we want to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. As part of this effort, ensuring that your teeth and gums are infection-free certainly helps.
Researchers are increasingly uncovering the role that your dental health plays in your overall health. As examples, one study found that those who brush their teeth fewer than two times a day and for less than two minutes were three times more likely to develop heart disease. Another study found a link between periodontitis (gum disease) and dementia.
The reason why these areas of your health are connected is that when you have gum disease, harmful bacteria can enter your bloodstream. This is an overly simplistic explanation for a complex issue, but it gives you a basic idea of what we’re up against.
While periodontitis is one of the primary culprits, any time you have an infection in your mouth, such as a root canal infection or even dental caries (tooth decay), it means that infection-causing bacteria are present in your system.
While Dr. White uses the most minimally invasive surgical techniques available to replace your hip, it’s still surgery. Making matters more complex, not only is Dr. White making small incisions, he’s also introducing new “parts” into your body, so we need to ensure that your body readily accepts them.
To facilitate this acceptance, we recommend that you get dental clearance before your hip replacement surgery to ensure that you don’t have any brewing infections in your mouth.
To give you an idea of how routine this practice is, because we’ll be placing you under anesthesia, we often perform a preoperative check-up, which includes identifying any loose crowns or teeth. We want to ensure that these are corrected before your hip replacement surgery to minimize the risk of periprosthetic joint infection (PJI).
PJI isn’t terribly common (less than 1%). but it can cause serious complications after your surgery and lead to the failure of the replacement joint.
By ensuring that your dental health is in optimal shape before your hip replacement surgery, you gain valuable peace of mind that your risks for PJI have been further reduced.
If you’d like to learn more about whether you should obtain dental clearance before your hip replacement surgery, contact Dr. White’s team at one of our two offices in Denver or Arvada, Colorado.