Dental care is one of the vital things to pay attention to if a person is diagnosed with HIV. This is because people with the human immunodeficiency virus are more vulnerable to mouth sores and dental infections. Some of the early HIV symptoms in mouth are canker sores, dry mouth, gingivitis, and thrush. Do you know someone living with HIV/AIDS? Click here to visit this site to know more about the dental health care that they should prioritize.
Understanding HIV Infection
The human immunodeficiency virus is a virus that deliberately ambushes CD4 cells. These cells are essential in keeping our immune system in great condition. Once it’s compromised, our body’s ability to fight infection gets weak as well. A weakened immune system puts an individual in a very critical condition, as he will be highly vulnerable to infections and complications.
How do you get infected?
While it is widely known that HIV/AIDS can be sexually transmitted, other causes may also put you at risk of the virus. To prevent the rapid spread of HIV infection worldwide, health experts recommend the practice of using sex protection during intercourse. HIV may be transmitted by sharing contaminated syringes, blood transfusions, and mother-to-baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Knowing the symptoms may help you determine if you are at risk of the virus. But the only way to be sure if you have HIV is through testing. Anyone can have HIV, but according to data, gays, bisexuals, and men having intercourse with the same gender are the most affected ones. If you suspect that you were exposed to or contracted HIV, it would be best to get yourself tested right away. Getting tested once in a while will put your mind at ease. However, those who have multiple partners or are with new sexual partners must seek medical advice regularly.
Sadly, there is still no known cure for HIV infection. The good news is that there are ways to have it controlled. If the person has not been diagnosed with HIV infection before but is exposed to the virus, a medical treatment called post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP should begin right away. This will prevent the spread of infection and complications. The efficiency of the treatment will depend on how early it has started. Moreover, it needs to be accomplished within four weeks.
In addition, if a person contracted HIV and is diagnosed through testing, a treatment to control the infection will also be given. This is called antiretroviral therapy. It involves medications and regular monitoring of the amount of virus in the infected person’s body. The treatment does not necessarily reverse the damages done to the body’s immune system. Instead, it hinders the virus from reproducing until its amount becomes minimal.
HIV Symptoms in the Mouth
The best way to make sure that the treatments succeed is by taking them as early as possible. So how will you know if you are at risk? By knowing the early signs of HIV. In most cases, the symptoms will appear in the mouth, you will notice significant changes in your oral health, and you should take those as signs to get tested. Below are the common HIV symptoms associated with oral health.
Oral warts are not directly due to HIV. Since HIV makes the immunity weak, an individual will also be susceptible to human papillomavirus. And because of HPV, HIV positives will most likely develop oral warts. Luckily, oral warts can be removed by dentists. But if the warts are not bothering you at all, no treatment may be a viable option since they disappear within two years. However, beware, as in some cases, neglected warts can spread as well.
Oral Hairy Leukoplakia
Hairy leukoplakia mainly takes place due to a weakened immune system. Just like oral warts, this is due to another virus called the Epstein-Barr virus. In this condition, you will most likely notice your mouth having white patches here and there. The patches might also have hair growths. Unfortunately, these patches can cause you pain and total discomfort. It can be surgically removed, but the best way to prevent it from occurring is by avoiding smoking and proper oral hygiene.
Cankers sores are the most common mouth problem due to HIV and AIDS. They can also be painful and irritating, given that they appear in different areas in the mouth, including the inner cheeks, tongue, soft palate of the mouth, and even in the lips. Canker sores have no cure, but there are ways to manage them, like rinsing with hydrogen peroxide solution or by dissolving a spoonful of baking soda in warm water.
Like oral Hairy leukoplakia, gum disease occurs due to weak immunity as well. It could also come with swelling, bleeding, and unbearable pain if left untreated. The good news is that your dentist can manage this condition, but it would also help avoid its triggers, including smoking and poor oral care.
Oral thrush, also known as oral candidiasis, is a fungal infection common in people with HIV. The fungus in the mouth will more likely develop rapidly because of the immune system of the weak immunity of the individual. Bleeding white toothbrushing is a sign that you have oral thrush; white sores and severe pain could accompany this.
Other HIV Symptoms
Apart from significantly swollen lymph nodes, mouth ulcers, and severe cases related to the mouth, other signs of HIV/AIDS could also include:
- fever that lasts for weeks
- health problems
- sore throat
- lesions in the mouth
- signs of herpes
- painful muscles
- weight loss
- cold sores
- dry mouth
- night sweats
As citizens, it is our duty to help the community prevent the spread of viral infections. If you think you have been exposed to HIV, it would be wiser to seek advice, diagnosis, or treatment and have yourself examined by a doctor.
HIV/AIDS and Dental Health (https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/h/hiv-aids-and-dental-health)