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New hip demands antibiotics before dental visit

Updated: July 7, 2012 8:03AM

Q. I had a hip replacement last year and was told that I need to take antibiotics before I go to the dentist. Really!?

A. It’s not only a good idea, it’s essential. Reputable dentists won’t work on you if they know you’ve had an implant and refuse the antibiotic. During dental procedures, bacteria living in your mouth — and there are tens of thousands of them — can spread into your blood and lodge on the surface of artificial things, like hip, knee or heart-valve replacements. Some of these newer replacement parts have embedded antibiotics, but you still need antibiotics for a dental procedure.

The immune system can’t “see” bacteria resting on inorganic implants, so no white blood cells come to attack and kill them off. They thrive, and you can get a whopper of an infection.

Get a prescription for the antibiotics from your orthopedic surgeon or dentist. You’ll be instructed to take four or five pills all at once, an hour before your teeth-cleaning or procedure. They decrease the likelihood of bacteria surviving in your bloodstream, but they can give your guts a run for their money (i.e. give you the runs.) Your best bet is to take a daily dose of probiotics a couple of days before, the day of and for at least a week after you go to the dentist.

Q. I’ve heard dogs can smell when people are sick. Do they sense a change in a person or do they actually smell that something isn’t quite right?

A. A bit of both. Dogs have a remarkable sense of smell — bloodhounds have almost 50 times as many scent receptors as humans; that translates to a sense of smell that’s 10,000 to 100,000 times better than what we have.

Researchers in Germany followed a program developed at Dr. Mike’s Cleveland Clinic that trained dogs to detect the smell of a waste product of lung cancer. The German dogs can smell your breath and ID lung cancer correctly 93 percent of the time. Other studies demonstrate dogs can detect early stage breast cancer, melanomas and bladder cancer with an accuracy rate of 88 to 97 percent.

Malignant tumors exude tiny amounts of volatile organic compounds that aren’t in healthy tissue. Dogs can sniff out each one in concentrations as dilute as parts per trillion. The dogs’ ability to smell VOCs may lead to a new test to detect cancer. If it gets inexpensive enough, maybe we’ll all have a breath analysis once a year to spot early, otherwise undetectable, disease.

Dogs also can be trained to detect changes in behavior (when your tell isn’t your smell) and recognize the onset of high blood pressure, a heart attack and epileptic seizures, and to get a person the help he or she needs.

King Features Syndicate

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