3 Common Oral Problems That Affect HIV Patients

17 September 2021
 Categories: Health & Medical , Blog


Thanks to advancements in medicine, HIV patients are living longer, healthier lives. However, HIV still affects your entire body, including your oral health. If you are struggling with HIV, and you want to better protect your oral health, check out these three common oral problems.

1 Dry Mouth

Many HIV patients struggle with dry mouth because of the medications they take. If left untreated, dry mouth can increase the risk of cavities. This is because your saliva naturally helps remove bacteria and food particles between brushing and flossing. If you struggle with dry mouth, there is little to no saliva to wash the mouth.

You may be able to avoid dry mouth by switching medications, but that may not be possible. If you can't switch medications, there are ways your dentist can help. They may provide special mouth rinses to help stimulate saliva production. In the meantime, make sure you drink plenty of water, especially after eating, to help naturally wash out the mouth. Other people with dry mouth may chew gum or suck on hard candy throughout the day.

2. Ulcerative Periodontitis

Ulcerative periodontitis and ulcerative gingivitis are serious complications that can affect HIV patients. This condition attacks parts of the mouth, causing necrosis. Ulcerative gingivitis only affects the gums, but ulcerative periodontitis affects the gums and surrounding tissue.

If you have ulcerative gingivitis, you may notice painful and bloody gums, especially when you eat. The dentist will also be able to see a white pseudomembrane on the dead areas and enlarged lymph nodes. If you have ulcerative periodontitis, your pain is severe and may feel like it is deep in the gums. Your mouth will also bleed, have bad breath, have lots of signs of gum necrosis, and have a low-grade fever.

Treatment typically involves cleaning the gums and teeth and removing any pseudomembranes. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to fight the infection.

3. Karposi's Sarcoma

Karposi's sarcoma is a type of cancer, and it often affects the lining of the blood and lymph vessels. It is incredibly common in people living with HIV, and it can attack any part of the body, including the mouth. The symptoms of Karposi's sarcoma include a lump with or without pain.

To diagnose Karposi's sarcoma, a biopsy may be needed. Typically, this can be performed with a small needle, but in some cases, a surgical biopsy may be needed. Treatment is similar to most forms of cancer: surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.

HIV is a serious condition, but thanks to modern medicine, it is no longer a death sentence. Still, patients with HIV are more prone to many conditions. If you would like to know more, contact an HIV counseling service, such as CAN Community Health, in your area today.