Dental work may cause artificial joint infection

Patients who have undergone total knee replacement surgery may develop infections in their artificial joints from bacteria released during tooth extractions, root canals, or other dental surgery, according to a report in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. Researchers at Good Samaritan Hospital and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore say some people with artificial knee joints should take antibiotics before having dental work. Those at risk are people with diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis and those taking corticosteroids or other immune-suppressing drugs.

In a study of 3,490 patients, 62 developed infections in their artificial joints, sometimes years after replacement surgery. Of those, 11% were associated with some kind of dental procedure, the researchers found.