Your Dental Health and HIV/AIDS

Overview

Most of the dental issues created by AIDS and HIV develop because your immune system becomes progressively compromised. As your body becomes less able to fight infections, you may notice a number of changes in your mouth. This includes thrush, dry mouth, enlarged lymph nodes, Kaposi's sarcoma, Epstein-Barr viral flare ups, herpes simplex sores, canker stores, human papilloma virus warts, swollen salivary glands, gum disease, and bacterial infections.

Unfortunately, children that have HIV/AIDS will tend to have a number of oral complications. Aside from an increased risk of getting thrush, many of the medicines used to treat children have a lot of sugar in them. This, in turn will increase the risk of tooth decay, which can lead to malnourishment and other issues. Therefore, it is very important to make sure your child rinses his/her mouth with water after taking medications.

Why Procedure is Used

Typically, many people with HIV notice that the condition of their mouth changes as their immune system changes. For example, if your immune system gets worse, you may have oral symptoms at the beginning stage of each decline. As may be expected, some conditions will not develop until you progress into later stages of the disease.

Patient Concerns to be Addressed

Proper oral hygiene is essential for anyone that has HIV. You may also be asked to visit your dentist at least every 6 months while your immune system is doing well. As your immune system becomes more compromised, you will need to increase the number of times that you see your dentist.

How Is Procedure Performed?

When you visit your dentist, he/she will show you how to examine your mouth for symptoms of certain conditions. Once you notice these changes, you will need to notify your dentist as well as your physician. Depending on the situation, you may not need to use antibiotics before having major dental procedures. That said, if your white blood counts are low, your dentist may feel that it will be of use for you to take antibiotics. He/she may also recommend a mouthwash with antibiotics in it to further reduce the risk of infection.

As you may be aware, AIDS can also affect your platelet counts. While you may be able to have routine dental procedures, it may be necessary to see a dental specialist if your counts drop below 50,000. You may also notice a low red blood cell count as a result of taking medications designed to get rid of HIV. If you have AIDS, you should always bring a copy of your bloodwork to your dental visits.

Perils of Disease

As you may be aware, saliva is necessary to wash away sugars, bacteria and acids that can damage your teeth. Typically, dry mouth is one of the most common side effects associated with AIDS/HIV therapies. It is very important to correct this condition in order to prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and thrush. At the very least, you should make use of saliva substitute and fluoride treatments that can be provided by your dentist.