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Artificial Joints and Dental Health

Posted on 09.12.2013 by perfectsmile

As dental technology advances, the links between healthy teeth and overall good health are becoming more and more apparent. It’s long been thought, for example, that excess plaque can lead to higher incidences of hardened arteries and research has established a link between bleeding gums and heart disease. Research recently published has been examining the risk of infection to people with artificial joints following dental treatment, for example, and whilst the conclusion was broadly that antibiotics needn’t necessarily be prescribed, a link between dental bacteria and infected joints was felt to be present, meaning that general dental care tips are vital to overall health.

Artificial joints, such as knee joints or hip joints, have revolutionised the treatment of older people suffering from painful and debilitating conditions such as arthritis. For many years, dentists and orthopaedic surgeons have been recommending that patients with artificial joints who are about to undergo dental treatment such as implants should routinely be prescribed a course of antibiotics to prevent infection attacking their artificial joints. This advice sprung from a belief that some bacteria from the mouth might make its’ way into the bloodstream during dental treatment and thus cause infection. Closer inspection of patients suffering from this kind of infection, however, has shown that the type of bacteria present were often of a type not likely to enter the bloodstream via dentistry. Studies published by the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Council on Dental Therapeutics and The American Academy of Oral Medicine have come to the conclusion that antibiotics should only be given to those patients who can be considered high risk. High risk categories include the following:

  • Those who have had an artificial joint taken out and replaced.
  • Those who have had joint infections previously.
  • Those suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Those with an unstable artificial joint.
  • Those who have a supressed immune system, thanks to either illness or medication.
  • Those who are taking steroids.

Whilst modifying the need to prescribe medication, the latest research has underlined the widespread effect of poor dental health on the condition of artificial joints. People who have an inadequate dental hygiene regime, suffer from gum disease or leave dental infections untreated run the risk of dangerous bacteria entering the bloodstream and infecting any artificial joints. In cases such as this it can be something as simple as cleaning the teeth which causes the bacteria to travel in this way. It is for this reason that any patients due to have an artificial joint fitted must have all such infections treated prior to surgery. If a dentist is due to treat a patient they feel falls into one of the high risk categories then they may well liaise with an orthopaedic surgeon to discuss whether antibiotics will be needed, as well as using a strong antiseptic mouthwash such as chlorhexidine gluconate. The link between dental health and joint infection is just one more reason why it would be wise to find the best dentist in London and work with them to ensure that all areas of your mouth remain as healthy as possible.

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