The Human Immunodeficiency Virus is often associated with a suppressed immune system by killing the disease-fighting cells known as CD4 and the T helper cells that help in fighting infection. Poor oral hygiene in HIV patients and with the reduced immune system often results in teeth infection and decay which eventually leads to teeth loss.
HIV teeth problems that eventually lead to teeth loss are contributed by various factors which include;
- A reduced immune system that makes HIV patients susceptible to oral infections.
- Use of anti-retroviral medications that are associated with side effects including a dry mouth which increase the risk of infection and tooth decay.
- Poor oral hygiene leads to the development of plagues that promote the growth of bacteria causing disease.
- Low self-esteem makes HIV patients not to seek dental care.
HIV teeth associated problems include;
Periodontal disease and gingivitis
This is a teeth problem caused by the accumulation of bacteria in the teeth and is associated with inflamed gums, bad breath and sometimes bleeding.
It occurs in two forms which are linear gingivitis erythema that is associated with gum reddening and the necrotizing ulcerative periodontitis which causes bleeding from the gum and destruction of the protective tissues of the teeth which eventually leads to teeth decay and teeth loss.
This is caused by dry mouth due to the absence of saliva in HIV patients due to the side effects of the anti-retroviral medications being consumed.
Saliva acts as an immune defence mechanism by killing bacteria in the mouth and its absence enables bacteria to survive leading to teeth decay and eventually teeth loss if not treated.
Increased teeth sensitivity
Bacteria in the mouth due to dry mouth and low immunity results in the destruction of the protective layers of the teeth exposing the nerves and blood vessels that supply nutrients to the teeth leading to teeth destruction and decay.
This results due to poor dental hygiene in HIV patients that eventually leads to teeth decay and teeth loss.
Immunosuppressed HIV patients can develop oral ulcerations that are painful sores in the soft tissues of the mouth such as the gums which include canker sores, oral candidiasis, Kaposi’s sarcoma and oral warts which can lead to bad breath, teeth destruction and decay.
To prevent the above associated HIV teeth problems one should;
- Maintain good oral hygiene including brushing, flossing and use of mouth wash that will help kill bacteria.
- Routinely seek dental care for proper teeth treatment.
- For oral ulcerations, antiretroviral, antifungal and antibiotics prescribed by the doctor should be used to kill the disease-causing microorganisms to prevent teeth decay and teeth loss.