Going through surgery affects almost every aspect of our life. We’re encouraged to slow down, rest, and minimize the amount of work we used to do pre-injury.
Almost every daily activity should be approached with caution. And funnily enough, this also includes our dentist appointments!
If you’re someone who recently had knee surgery, you might ask yourself:
“How long after knee replacement can I have dental work done?“
This is a common and valid question among patients post-surgery. After all, oral health is as important as the other domains of our overall health (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual).
That’s why in this blog post, we’ll discuss why it can be risky to go through your regular dental cleanings right after surgery and when it’s the right time to do so.
What is the recovery time for knee replacement surgery?
Total joint replacement surgery, including both hip and knee replacements, is an invasive surgical procedure that has become increasingly common in recent years as the population ages and remains active later in life.
As you may well know, not every type of surgery has the same timeline for complete healing. For example, the recovery time following a total knee replacement surgery is typically longer than that of hip replacement surgery.
Most patients recovering from a total hip replacement are able to walk with minimal assistance within a week and can return to all normal activities within two to six weeks. This is much more likely if you have a reliable physical therapist.
For total knee surgery, the average is roughly 6 months, but it is not unusual for it to take 12 months for a full recovery after this intensive surgery.
Aside from the type of surgery performed, the patient’s age and health, and the surgeon’s experience factor into the recovery period.
But if you now have an artificial joint, your orthopedic surgeon would likely encourage you to drink a dose of oral antibiotics a few hours before any dental procedures including an invasive dental procedure— including routine cleaning, tooth extraction, or any kind of dental treatment.
Knee Replacement Risks Through Dental Procedures
With what you’ve read so far, you might be thinking “Oh no, does this mean I won’t be able to visit my dentist for the rest of my life?“.
Don’t spiral down to that thinking just because you saw some irrelevant/old Reddit post or comment about it.
Dental work should be avoided for two to three months after joint replacement surgery to minimize the risk of a deep infection. This is because joint replacement patients are at an increased risk of developing prosthetic joint infections after undergoing an invasive or routine dental procedure leading to serious complications. After all, metal rods, pins, and screws are often used in knee replacements and can cause interference with dental x-rays.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases, you may be at increased risk for potential infection after dental procedures. To reduce the risk of dental infection, joint replacement patients should receive antibiotic prophylaxis before having any dental work done.
However, this is not always possible or practical, particularly in emergency situations. In these cases, the decision to proceed with dental treatment should be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the potential risks and benefits.
A root canal is particularly risky after a knee replacement, so if possible, it is best to wait until the prosthetic joints have healed completely before having one done.
How long after surgery can you have dental work done?
There are many different types of surgery, and each one comes with its own set of recovery guidelines. In general, however, you should wait at least eight to twelve weeks before having any dental work done. This is to ensure that the work done to your oral cavity does not interfere with the healing of your joint.
For surgery involving patients with prosthetic joint implants, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends waiting at least three months before having dental work done. This gives the implant a sufficient period of time to fuse with the bone and helps to reduce the risk of infection.
If you are concerned about the risk of infection, your dentist may prescribe preventive antibiotics before and after the procedure. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and follow your surgeon’s instructions for a safe and successful recovery.
Benefits of Waiting Until Your Knee Replacement Recovery Is Finished
There are several benefits to waiting until your recovery is complete before having dental work done.
- First, it minimizes the risk of infection.
- Second, it gives the implant time to fuse with the bone.
- And third, it helps to ensure a successful and complication-free recovery.
The American Dental Association also encourages the public to wait until their recovery is complete before having dental work done. This is because there’s a higher risk of developing an infection or other complications if you have a procedure while you’re still sick.
In addition, waiting until you’re healthy again gives your dentist a better chance to assess the situation and make sure the procedure is necessary. By taking these precautions, you can help ensure that your dental work is safe and successful.
Patience is a Virtue
Ultimately, the decision of getting dental work after getting a “new knee” is up to you. Research, study, and get advice from different dentists and surgeons to help you decide when to undergo any kind of dental treatment.
And while you’re still gathering your resources, continue to do the work in recovering from your knee surgery. This includes going to physical therapy, taking medications, wearing a knee brace, and connecting with a support group. Doing so boosts the strength of your muscles and joints and overall sense of self-esteem.
The healing process can be long, that’s why it’s important to be patient. Thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful.