Thursday, September 10, 2009

To Floss or Not to Floss?

My commitment to flossing has always been a little suspect. I'll be the Queen of Oral Hygiene for a couple of months, but when I run out of dental floss I always forget to buy more and all of sudden, whoops, three months have gone buy and now I really don't want to start back up because then I'll have to walk around for a few weeks with bleeding gums, making people think I have some terrible wasting disease. Yes, I know, my life is hard.

Usually, the question of whether or not to begin flossing would not require a blog post (my life is not yet that boring), but everything I do post-hip-replacement always comes with a side order of "extra complicated." When I saw my doctor last, he gave me a little note to take to my dentist saying that I should be put on a round of antibiotics before getting a checkup in case my gums bleed in the process. The idea is that the mouth is full of 200 different kinds of bacteria and if any of this bacteria enters your bloodstream via a cut in your mouth, it could zoom straight to your freaky cyborg hip and throw down a little "28 Days" action, resulting in the Joint Replacement Apocalypse.

Normally, I wouldn't be worried about this, because for over a week I walked in bare feet around a hospital and I'm pretty sure the bacteria in my mouth are the wimpy wanna-be kid brothers of whatever bad boys are creeping around the hospital floor. Also, I played varsity sports and managed not to be hospitalized for MRSA, which is actually kind of a feat. Still, the post-surgical rashes suggest that my immune system might not exactly be at 100%, so the question of whether or not to begin flossing again deserves at least a passing thought (and, hey, it's not like I don't have a little time on my hands).

I first, of course, turned to google. No dice. (Could it be? Something that the google doesn't know?) Though one website did tell me that patients should possess excellent oral hygiene before going in for a joint replacement (whoops), the only other website that looked promising from the google search results tried to give me spyware and I had to manually shut down my computer to prevent it from doing so; (here's to hoping that my Mac's immune system is stronger than my own). Of course, I could contact my surgeon, but I'd feel a little silly phoning him up to say, "So, uh, can I floss my teeth? And by the way, my hip flexors and abductors are still shitty and I still can't walk unassisted even though three months have passed. Is there anything you can do about that?" Also, considering that it took nearly 5 months of stalking him to even get a surgery date, I'm pretty sure that by the time he responded, I'd be scraping green moss off my teeth. On the other hand, however, Death By Flossing would be a pretty shitty thing to have on your tombstone.

I am therefore turning to you, oh readers of my blog (since at least one of you must have had a hip replacement and encountered this problem). Any ideas?


  1. I suggest that you floss gently and if there's lots of blood, rinse with diluted hydrogen peroxide. Google "rinsing with hydrogen peroxide".

    Sorry for commenting but I couldn't resist. I use to work in a dental office 30 yrs ago.

  2. Don't apologize for commenting. I was hoping that someone would offer some suggestions! Thanks!

  3. I just stumbled across your blog, which is why this comment is three months late, but I'm about your age and also had hip replacements (we do exist!). I have to take the pre-dentist antibiotics too but I don't remember ever being told not to floss and in the ten years since my hip replacements, on immunosuppressants the entire time, I've never had a problem. I don't know if this actually helps at all, or even if you care any more , but... yeah. Good luck!

  4. Hello, I have the same question about flossing post THR. Did you get any additional information about this?