Flosser Beware

Here's a weird, slightly scary tale I encountered in the news and thought I'd share. Hopefully it won't put you off your dentist or your dental hygiene routine.

A woman in Wisconsin got an infection in her knee prosthesis from flossing her teeth.

It’s a known phenomenon, when bacteria are introduced into the bloodstream by manipulations anywhere bacteria live (causing a “bacteremia”).

The most common place this happens is at the dentist. The mouth is crawling with bacteria, which when introduced into the bloodstream, can take up residence in vulnerable locations and begin growing, causing all sorts of mischief.

This can be a disaster if the bacteria end up on a joint prosthesis, like an artificial hip or knee, which are becoming commonplace. Now there's vigorous debate about whether people with artificial joints should have prophylactic antibiotics before any dental treatment.

But this instance, reported in the August 2015 edition of BMJ Case Reports, the woman—who presented with a swollen, painful knee that when opened showed bacteria that typically grow in the mouth—appears to be the first reported case caused simply by flossing.

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