Dental Health Issues Associated With HIV / AIDS

Changes in the mouth are common in a person with a weakened immune system and also while taking certain medications. Many of the medications prescribed for a person with HIV / AIDS can also contribute to changes in the mouth.

Some common dental conditions associated with HIV / AIDS are:

  • Dry Mouth
  • Thrush
  • Swollen Glands
  • Gum Disease
  • Canker Sores
  • Herpes Simplex Lesions

The most common side effect from HIV / AIDS medication is dry mouth.

Saliva helps wash away bacteria and the acids that the bacteria produces along with sugars and foods, therefore, producing less saliva as a result of dry mouth can contribute to tooth decay, gingivitis and gum disease. If you have dry mouth, your dentist can prescribe a saliva substitute or a fluoride rinse to help decrease the risk of tooth decay.

Regular dental check ups, brushing twice a day and flossing daily are important factors for people with HIV / AIDS. Dental visits may need to become more frequent as the disease progresses and the immune system weakens. If you have HIV / AIDS, your dentist can familiarize you with the tissues in your mouth so that you can report any changes.

Thanks to the dental reimbursement program under the Ryan White CARE Act, people with the HIV virus can now seek dental treatment even if they can’t afford it. In fact, on November 3, 2005, the Department of Health and Human Services Administration announced that it has awarded around $9.3 million to fund dental education programs that provide oral healthcare to HIV Positive patients.

According to the American Dental Association, in 2006, more than 34,000 patients with HIV received dental care under this reimbursement program.

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