Dental Screening in Elective Total Joint Arthroplasty: Risk Factors for Failure

James G. Kohler, Andrew J. Holte, Natalie A. Glass, Nicholas A. Bedard, Timothy S. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Active dental infection at the time of total joint arthroplasty (TJA) or in the acute postoperative period following TJA is thought to increase the risk of periprosthetic joint infection (PJI). Many surgeons recommend preoperative dental screening. This study aimed to identify how many elective TJA patients failed preoperative dental screening and what patient risk factors were associated with failure. Methods: A consecutive series of elective, primary TJA was reviewed from 8/1/2016 to 8/1/2017. We studied 511 operations in 511 patients. All patients were referred for preoperative dental screening per protocol. Dental screening failure was defined as required dental intervention by the dentist. Screening failure rate was calculated for and logistic regression was used to evaluate the relationship between odds of screening failure and patient demographic data. Results: In 94 of the 511 total cases (18.5%), patients failed dental screening and required dental procedures prior to TJA. Reasons for failure included tooth extractions, root canals, abscess drainage, and carious lesions requiring filling. Patient characteristics associated with failed dental screening included male gender (odds ratio 1.56, 95% confidence interval 1.0006-2.468, P = .047) and current smoker (odds ratio 3.6, 95% confidence interval 1.650-7.927, P = .001). Conclusion: Universal dental screening prior to primary TJA resulted in 18.5% of patients needing an invasive dental intervention. Universal dental screening results in extra cost and time for patients and providers. Although male gender and active smoking were associated with increased odds of requiring an invasive dental procedure, more work is needed to develop targeted screening to improve perioperative workflow and limit unnecessary dental evaluations for patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • arthroplasty
  • dentist
  • hip
  • infection
  • knee

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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