4 Oral Health Issues that HIV-Positive People Should Watch Out For

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4 Oral Health Issues that HIV-Positive People Should Watch Out For

5 January 2017
Dentist, Blog

Those suffering from HIV often avoid seeing the dentist since they fear having to disclose their condition and face a certain stigma. However, dentists understand how to work on the mouths of people with HIV, and even the standard sterilisation procedures will ensure that it isn't passed on to other patients.

Furthermore, keeping an eye on oral health is even more important for people with HIV since the condition makes several problems more likely to occur, including:

1. Necrotizing Ulcerating Periodontitis

Necrotizing ulcerating periodontitis (NUP) is a severe form of periodontal disease that can attack both the gums and the underlying bone structure. A condition strongly associated with HIV, it is a type of infection that often produces intense pain and spontaneous bleeding. However, the rapid breaking down of the alveolar bone is the most serious symptom; this can often lead to a loss of teeth, and the lack of underlying bone will make it hard for dentures or implants to be fitted.

2. Dry Mouth

People suffering from HIV often find that their salivary glands become swollen. Dry mouth might not sound like a serious condition, but a lack of saliva makes it harder to chew and prevents your food from being properly digested; it means that the cleaning compounds found in your saliva won't be given a chance to wash away bacteria and prevent decay. Luckily, there are several artificial products that your dentist can recommend.

3. Oral Candidiasis

A type of thrush, oral candidiasis produces white patches in the throat and mouth as well as red patches and cracking within the mouth. It is caused by an overgrowth of fungus, which your body will be less able to stem when the immune system has been compromised. A dentist or doctor should be seen before you treat the condition; several over-the-counter drugs can interfere with common HIV medications that you might be taking, such as protease inhibitors.

4. Oral Hairy Leucoplakia

Oral hairy leucoplakia (OHL) is often one of the first infections that occurs in HIV-positive people; it can develop regardless of T-cell count, and it is estimated that over 25% of HIV-positive people will develop OHL at some point during their lives, especially if they smoke. A small white lesion that feels crusted and rough, an OHL does not usually require any treatment. That said, it may indicate other underlying conditions, so it is a condition best inspected by a professional.