Knees & Oral Hygiene

“A woman in Wisconsin got a nasty bacterial infection in her knee, but the infection’s source was an unexpected culprit: her vigorous tooth-flossing regimen”


Actually I’m not surprised. A few years ago we had to make sure those patients who had a new knee or hip also had antibiotics before dental procedures. We knew that bacteria from the mouth could get into the blood stream and cause the new joint to become infected. But it happened so rarely that physicians changed their recommendation.

Dr. Urban and I discussed it many times. We’d say ‘sure, we might introduce bacteria into the blood stream but the patient does at home as well’. And sure enough that’s what happened to this woman. This article on Live goes on to discuss another thing we used to posit and that is, “Most infections on prosthetic devices (57 percent) are related to the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis, which are frequently found on the skin”. We didn’t know the stats, but we’d often say things like, ‘why do we have to medicate the patient when they could cut themselves and introduce bacteria into their blood stream at any time.’

The real problem with the woman in the article was that she had just started flossing vigorously. Her gums were bleeding, so she had a lot of bacteria in her mouth. She wasn’t starting with healthy gums. If you have great oral hygiene, brush for 2-3 minutes every day, and clean between your teeth every day you won’t be dumping a bunch of bacteria into your blood stream all at once. More proof that good oral health is one of the keys to good overall health.

If you’d like to discuss this or any dental issue, give us a call. 703-532-1712

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