It’s fascinating to think that we have reached a time in medicine when a painful or worn out joint can be replaced with an artificial one. Think about that! Doesn’t it sound so “Jetsons” like!? Ok, I’m really showing my age with that cartoon reference, but it’s amazing the things that can be done today in medicine. My mom recently had her knee replaced with an artificial knee joint. Five weeks later she’s driving and even back to the gym. Amazing! Part of her pre-operation instructions included a dental clearance proving her great oral health. Obviously being a dental hygienist that brought joy to my heart. Her surgeon is acknowledging that her overall health is connected to her oral health. I love it!
We in dentistry have known for years about the existing connection between a patient’s oral health and their overall health. Like her surgeon, many others — and maybe all — are doing the same. More and more of our patients are bringing in forms from their surgeons requiring the dentist to sign to vouch that the patient’s mouth is healthy enough to proceed with their joint replacement surgery. Questions on these forms include clearance from oral diseases such as dental decay, periodontal disease, broken, or abscessed teeth. Sometimes dental diseases are asymptomatic, which potentially makes a patient unaware of whether a problem exists in their mouth or not. Luckily for my mom she preventatively visits her dentist and was quickly cleared to proceed with her knee surgery.
Should a patient present with one or multiple dental diseases though, dental treatment would need to take place prior to the surgery. Depending on the type of dental disease, the fix may be costly, time consuming, and even delay a patient’s surgery.
Visiting your dentist regularly for preventative procedures like dental cleanings, X-rays, and dental exams allows your dental professionals to diagnose and arrest problems while the dental problems are still small, which keeps treatments to a minimum or even nonexistent.
We love our patients at S & B and want all of them to have healthy mouths to support their overall good health. If our patients are in need of a joint replacement, we want to be able to give a them speedy clearance and know that their mouth will not hinder the healing of their new joint.