HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that attacks body cells, which makes it hard to fight infections. When one has HIV, their immune system is weakened which exposes them more to infections that ordinary people.
With a weakened immune system, one is not able to fight some common diseases and infections, which includes any dental infections. A person suffering from HIV is likely going to contact infections more often than a healthy person, and the healing process is also long because the body does not have the right cells to fight.
When handling an HIV patient, the main agenda is to have them on immune boosters and a healthy diet.
Common Dental Problems For HIV Patients
Some side effects of the Antiretroviral medicine that the patients take on a daily basis is having a dry mouth. Sometimes it causes the swelling of the salivary glands which means not enough saliva is products. This means teeth are not cleaned by saliva like for healthy individuals. Because of this, an individual is exposed to tooth decay if they do not make an intentional decision to hydrate all the time.
Due to the weakened immune system, most HIV patients get mouth sores that can take quite a while to clear. These mostly appear in patients that have the disease more advanced, but are pretty common.
Apart from the mouth sores, HIV patients get a lot of inflammation on their gums. This is still in relation to the low immune system. With HIV, the healthy bacteria found in the mouth to fight some infections does not exist, hence the chances of having gum problems are quite high.
Weak Teeth (Periodontitis)
This is very common in patients with advanced HIV. Prolonged low immunity in most cases leads to weakening of one’s bones, which directly affects their teeth too. There is swelling of tissue around teeth, which shrinks and weakens teeth. For some severe cases, teeth may even start falling off. When you notice this, call a top “dentist Brooklyn” to mitigate the situation.
Managing Dental Health In HIV Patients
As much as these patients have a low immunity, there is a lot that can be done so that they can lead a more comfortable life by observing basic oral hygiene. It should be a priority as they need more attention than healthy people:
- Routine dental care: This should be mandatory. HIV patients need mote dental check-ups because there is the risk of infection, hence any risks should be addressed by an expert. These check-ups can be annually of even twice, to make sure that any infections that come up are handled before worsening.
- Frequent water intake: One of the side effects of Antiretroviral drugs is a dry mouth, and this can be handled by drinking water frequently to hydrate both the body but mainly the mouth. Water also helps to clean the mouth of any food particles that encourage bacteria breeding.
- Brush and floss: Having HIV is not a death sentence, and one is able to lead a normal life with precaution. They need to brush and floss like any other person which in turn keeps their teeth clean and free from some common infections. Brushing needs to be morning and evening, and flossing can be done after every meal. This helps to maintain a clean mouth.
- Eat healthy food: Nothing beats diet when it comes to oral hygiene. Most tooth decays are as a result of eating certain foods over a period. Fruits, vegetables and nuts are a good diet to have, as it boosts the immunity apart from having nutrients that are beneficial to oral health. On the other hand, some food to avoid include tobacco, sugary and salty foods. The latter promote the growth of bacteria that causes tooth decay.
- Mouth wash: using mouth wash is also encouraged for HIV patients as it also helps prevent mouth sores and gum helps to keep the mouth fresh. Most mouth washes have a fluoride element, which helps protect teeth against infectious bacteria.
- Consistently taking Antiretroviral drugs: These drugs help to manage many of these infections, as they help with boosting one’s immunity. Taking them religiously boosts the immune system, which in return helps one fight most common infections.
With a strict routine, even with HIV, one can still have good oral hygiene. They just need to find what works for them and stick to the routine, and remember to consult an expert “dentist Brooklyn” when you notice any changes to their oral health.