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How HIV/AIDS Affects the Mouth

How HIV/AIDS Affects the Mouth

Your mouth may be the first part of your body to be affected when infected with HIV. Because HIV will weaken your immune system, you will be susceptible to infections and other problems such as pain and tooth loss.  

People with HIV may experience the following mouth issues:

  • Dry mouth 
  • Thrush 
  • White lesions on the sides of the tongue (oral hairy leukoplakia)
  • Red band gingivitis
  • Ulcerative periodontitis
  • Karposi’s Sarcoma
  • Outbreaks of herpes simplex virus
  • Canker sores
  • Mouth ulcers.

Dental and mouth problems related to HIV can be painful, causing trouble chewing or swallowing. This may prevent you from taking your HIV medication. It can also result in malnutrition as you may have trouble eating and absorbing enough essential nutrients. Also, a compromised digestive system may affect the absorption of your HIV drug treatment.

How to Cope with Dental and Mouth Issues Related To HIV

Most mouth health problems related to HIV are treatable. Talk with your dentist about what treatment is best for you. 

The best ways to prevent these issues are to do the following:

  • Visit your dentist for regularly scheduled appointments
  • Brush and floss your teeth twice daily for two minutes
  • Take your HIV medicine on schedule
  • Tell your doctor if your HIV medicine is causing dry mouth and what treatment is best for you
  • If you do not have a regular dentist, ask your primary care provider or clinic for a referral.