Dental Work After Hip or Knee Replacement: What are antibiotic recommendations to prevent infection

May 23, 2024
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Learn about the importance of antibiotic prophylaxis for dental work after joint replacement. This guide covers recommended antibiotics, dosages, and timing of dental procedures to prevent infections and ensure your new joint's longevity and health.

If you've had a joint replacement, taking certain precautions before dental work is essential to prevent infections. Here's a comprehensive guide on antibiotic prophylaxis for dental procedures after joint replacement surgery, including guidelines for specific scenarios and timelines for dental work relative to your surgery.

Why Antibiotics Are Necessary

After a joint replacement, there's an increased risk of bacteria from the mouth entering the bloodstream during dental procedures and potentially infecting the new joint. To decrease this risk, antibiotics can be prescribed by your dentist and taken before your procedure. 

Typical Antibiotics and Dosages

For most patients, the recommended antibiotic for dental work after joint replacement is:

  • Amoxicillin: 2 grams orally, one hour before the dental procedure.

For patients allergic to penicillin, alternative antibiotics include:

  • Clindamycin: 600 milligrams orally, one hour before the dental procedure.
  • Cephalexin or Cefadroxil: 2 grams orally, one hour before the dental procedure.
  • Azithromycin or Clarithromycin: 500 milligrams orally, one hour before the dental procedure.

Duration of Prophylaxis

  • General Recommendation: Typically, a single dose taken one hour before the procedure is sufficient. No additional doses are usually required after the procedure.

Specific Guidelines for Dental Appointments

  • For the First Year After Joint Replacement: You will need your dentist to prescribe an antibiotic before any dental procedure.
  • Long-term Antibiotic Use: If you fall into any of the following categories, you will need antibiotic prophylaxis before any dental procedure for the rest of your life:
    • Weakened immune system (e.g., uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, organ transplant recipient, hemophilia, HIV)
    • Previous infection of your joint replacement
    • Bleeding disorders like hemophilia

Timing of Dental Work Relative to Surgery

  • Before Surgery: Try to complete any necessary dental work at least four weeks before your joint replacement surgery.
  • Avoid Dental Work: Do not schedule dental procedures within two weeks of your surgery.
  • Post-Surgery Recommendations:
    • Avoid routine dental cleanings for 2-3 months after your joint replacement surgery.
    • Avoid major oral surgery for at least three months post-surgery.

Special Considerations

  • The need for antibiotic prophylaxis can depend on the type of dental procedure. It is more commonly recommended for procedures that involve manipulation of gingival tissue, periapical region of teeth, or perforation of oral mucosa.
  • Always consult with your orthopedic surgeon and dentist to determine the necessity of antibiotic prophylaxis based on your individual risk factors and medical history.


Preventing infections after a joint replacement is crucial, and taking antibiotics before dental work is a key part of this process. By following these guidelines, you can help ensure the longevity of your joint replacement and maintain your overall health.