Teeth, Shoulders, Knees, And Toes: How Endodontics Affects Joint Replacement Surgeries

You might be looking forward to an orthopedic joint replacement surgery as an opportunity to diminish chronic pain and regain mobility.  Before you can undergo any orthopedic joint replacement surgery, however, you and your team of doctors will need to assess your whole-body health to ensure you'll stay safe during the procedure and recover with minimal issues.  Don't let yourself be surprised when your orthopedic team asks you to visit your dentist or endodontist for clearance before you undergo your surgery.  Your dental health will play an important role before and after your surgery, so take it seriously. 

Before Surgery

Your orthopedic surgeon may want to ensure your teeth are in good condition before scheduling your joint replacement surgery.  Your mouth is home to all kinds of bacteria, and many of them are good bacteria that help break down food and maintain yeast levels in your body.  Others, however, infect your teeth and gums, posing a danger to your blood stream and even other injuries if they have the opportunity. 

If you've got an infected tooth or infected gums, your orthopedic surgeon will not want to tip the scale and put you at risk for that infection spreading to the surgery site.  Instead, you'll need to work with an endodontist to remove the infection before you can be cleared for surgery. 

An endodontist will most likely want to perform a root canal rather than removing a tooth completely.  Root canals allow the endodontist to rid the mouth of infection while still preserving your tooth and avoiding putting gum tissue and blood at risk.  

During Recovery

Whether you've always had great oral health or you've gone through periods of decay and infection, you must maintain a high level of dental care once your orthopedic surgery is complete.  This includes both daily and long-term dental care. 

You'll need to brush and floss daily in order to keep harmful bacteria at bay.  Many orthopedic surgical patients find it difficult to maintain daily activities immediately following surgery due to pain and stiffness, but it's essential to follow through with dental hygiene from your hospital bed even when you're not yet comfortable walking.  If your surgery affected your arms or hands, ensure a nurse or family member helps you keep your teeth clean during your recovery. 

After Recovery

The way you go about your dental cleanings will change once you've had an orthopedic joint replacement surgery.  Putting a foreign object such as a prosthetic joint into your body always comes with the risk that your body will reject that object.  The chances of your body rejecting the joint go up when there's an infection in the bloodstream.  Your mouth constantly puts small amounts of bacteria into your bloodstream, but it's able to maintain a healthy balance if you're brushing and flossing regularly. 

There may be times, however, when your body will have to deal with a higher level of bacteria in the bloodstream than normal.  When you go for your semi-annual cleanings, higher levels of bacteria can enter your bloodstream as your dentist scrapes away plaque and tartar from beneath the gum line.  The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends all joint replacement surgery patients undergo a short round of antibiotics prior to any dental procedures to prevent infections at the surgery site.  

Your total joint replacement will offer many positive changes in your life, offering you a new lease on your mobility.  You'll want to maintain the health of your new joint for decades, and your dental health plays a more important role than you might realize.  If you're considering a total joint replacement, pay special attention to your oral health before, during, and after your surgery to avoid infection at your surgery site.  if you have any questions, you may want to contact a dental clinic like Maplewood Dental Associates, PA, or talk to your orthopaedic surgeon.