Oral health is always important, and everyone should make sure they brush and floss each day and see a dentist regularly. However, this is even more important for people who suffer from HIV.
Here are just five reasons why.
1. HIV Often Causes Oral Health Issues
The mouth is one of the most likely areas of your body to become infected, even in people without HIV, since it is an open cavity that is frequently introduced to various external substances. This means that the mouth is often one of the first parts of the body to show signs of a HIV infection, and many opportunistic infections become more likely to occur due to the body's reduced ability to protect itself. Oral thrush (candidiasis), for example, is more likely to occur if you have HIV, and there is even a special form of gum disease, known as Necrotizing Ulcerative Periodontitis (NUP), that is associated with the condition.
2. Infections Can Spread to the Rest of the Body
Any oral infection is going to be cause for concern, but they can become even more serious since they can spread to other parts of the body. If you have something as simple as an abscess in your mouth, the pus inside can be transferred to the bloodstream and then carried to other parts of the body, including the heart. Since people with HIV live with compromised immune systems, this is more likely to occur and more likely to develop into a serious condition.
3. Oral Health Issues Can Affect Your Medication
There have been huge breakthroughs in HIV treatment during the last few decades, so people suffering from the condition can now use various medications to lead a normal life. Unfortunately, oral health issues can sometimes negatively impact the way your body is able to absorb HIV medication.
4. HIV Can Cause a Reduction in Bone Mineral Density
Though the exact causes are unknown, many people who suffer from HIV suffer from low bone mineral density (BMD). Luckily, this does not affect the enamel that protects your teeth, but it could have an impact on the underlying bone structure. This bone is vital to strong oral health, and you need it to be of sufficient density in case you ever need to have dentures fitted. Periodontal disease and other oral health issues can also affect that underlying bone. A dentist will be able to spot signs of deterioration early, so regular dental care is critical.
5. HIV Medications Are Associated with Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is a condition that many people tend not to worry about. However, a decrease in salivary production should be considered serious since your saliva contains compounds that are used to keep your mouth clean. Having dry mouth means that you will be more likely to develop oral health issues, but dentists can spot the problem and provide an artificial saliva product.