Dental Care for HIV Patients
HIV compromises the immune system and leaves patients more vulnerable to infection and illness. Changes in oral health may signify more serious health problems, and patients with HIV may need more aggressive preventative measures, maintenance programs and treatments to protect their health.
Many medications that are used to manage HIV can cause dry mouth. Because saliva plays an important role in the remineralization of dental enamel and helps rinse away bacteria-laden debris, a lack of saliva can increase the risk of cavities and gum disease. Patients with HIV may need to chew sugar-free gum, suck on sugarless lozenges or consider prescription saliva-replacement products to help reduce the risk of complications.
Essentially an oral yeast infection, thrush can leave white, irritated patches in the mouth. These patches can become crusty or even bleed, and some can appear at the corner of the mouth or on the roof of the mouth. Dry mouth can contribute to the onset of thrush. The condition is highly treatable using antibiotics or anti-fungal medication.
Thick, white patches known as leukoplakia can develop on the sides of the tongue, and patients may be more prone to painful canker sores. The herpes virus can trigger the onset of cold sores, which may be treated with an anti-viral medication.
If you have HIV, maintaining good dental hygiene is essential. Seek dental care if you notice any sores, tissue abnormalities, dry mouth or other symptoms.