People living with HIV/AIDS experience a high incidence of common oral health problems such as tooth decay and gum disease, as well as problems specific to HIV infection.
At least one-third of people living with HIV will have at least one major HIV-related oral health problem—bacterial, viral, and fungal infections as well as cancer and ulcers—in the course of their disease.
Why It's a Problem for People With HIV
- Poor oral health can interfere with food intake and nutrition, leading to poor absorption of your HIV medications..
- HIV medications have side effects such as dry mouth, which can encourage tooth decay, gum disease, and fungal infections.
- Bacterial infections that begin in the mouth can lead to infections in other parts of the body, and harm the heart and other organs if not treated.
What You Can Do
Good Oral Hygiene
Focus on good oral hygiene: brush at least twice a day, and floss at least once a day to keep your risk of complications low.
If you have HIV, make sure that your medical provider is also aware of your oral health. Get regular dental checkups as well, so that you can learn about possible oral health problems before they become serious, and before they lead to hard-to-manage infections.
Benefit: Overall Health
Poor oral health doesn't just mean tooth decay. Gum disease can allow bacteria into the bloodstream, and increase your risk of heart disease and related illnesses. It can also make diabetes control more difficult.
Need a dentist? Contact MSDH’s Crossroads Dental Clinic in Jackson at (601) 432-3236.