It’s sad to think that HIV infection has become one of the most prominent diseases in the world, mainly for the reason that it can be prevented with discipline and proper knowledge. Signs of HIV in mouth include thrush, dry mouth, mouth sores, and gingivitis. A trusted dentist can advise you to practice proper oral hygiene, but if the root cause is HIV, addressing the main reason would be the best solution. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are exhibiting symptoms far worse than oral health problems.
What Is HIV/AIDS?
The human immunodeficiency virus or HIV attacks the individual’s immune system. Once the immunity gets weak, the body will have a more challenging time fighting the infection, and when this happens, other complications, such as dental health problems, follow. According to the World Health Organization, half of the people living with HIV infection also suffer from oral infections, including mouth sores.
Mouth sores, whether from HIV or not, can be very painful and cause eating difficulties. Chewing and swallowing may become a bit more challenging and cause you to lose appetite.
Let us focus on the effects of HIV on the oral health of people living with it and see what causes them. We will also uncover some helpful tips to prevent these things from happening and the right time to visit your doctor.
People with HIV and Mouth Sores
Mouth problems that are related to HIV can be pretty unbearable. In most cases, it affects your appetite as it causes difficulty in chewing and swallowing. It’s essential to have yourself checked as it might affect your HIV treatments and medication. Furthermore, it might result in malnutrition as you will struggle to get enough nutrients to keep your immunity in a great state.
Mouth herpes is easy to determine because of its significant symptoms. It can cause you a lot of pain as it involves painful red sores found in the gums, lips, inside of the cheeks, and tongue. These lesions are also called “cold sores.” They come from the infection caused by the herpes simplex virus or HSV.
Aside from mouth problems, the following symptoms might also occur:
- muscle pain
- lymph nodes
- burning feeling in the sores
Everyone is at risk of oral herpes, but HIV adds up to the risk of getting it. Not getting the proper treatment for HIV infection can prolong the cold sores and promote severe outbreaks. It is contagious, and you can get HSV from direct contact with an infected individual’s saliva. If the outbreak is at its peak, your chance of contracting mouth sores is higher than usual.
However, you can prevent getting virus HSV by avoiding food sharing or kissing a person with the infection, especially if they have outbreaks. It can also result in genital herpes, commonly transmitted through anal, oral, and vaginal intercourse. The good news is your doctor can treat herpes through antiviral medications.
HPV infections are prevalent among people living with HIV infection. A recent study concludes that about 48% HIV positive women have HPV as well. Signs of HIV in the mouth along with HPV include warts and white bumps around the lips.
HPV might also result in genital warts, which are very infectious. You could get infected with HPV through sex if the virus gets inside the bloodstream through a mouth cut. People with HPV do not usually have symptoms; if they did, it would most likely involve:
- painful mouth sores
- swollen tonsils
- sore throat
- pain while swallowing
But fret not because there are ways to avoid HPV, such as:
- using protection during sex
- getting vaccinated
- staying faithful to one sexual partner
- quitting tobacco products, or better yet, quitting smoking
As of this writing, there is still no known cure for HPV; the only way to treat them is by surgically removing them from the mouth.
Canker sores are medically known as aphthous ulcers. This results in painful mouth ulcers that develop on the soft tissue in the mouth. They are hard to see as they are usually tiny with white or gray colors. Chatswood-based dentists from Boutique Dental Care say that a dental check up could reveal those ulcers as the dentist can check your mouth thoroughly.
Health experts are still trying to figure out the reason for canker sores. Yet, there are known factors that contribute to its occurrence, including:
- mouth injuries
- lack of vitamins
- weak immune system
Mild cases can be managed by mouth rinsing. This reduces inflammation and prevents ulcers from getting dirty. Severe cases might require professional help.
How to Avoid
Here are some of the ways to protect yourself from canker sores:
- eat healthy meals
- stay away from stress
- avoid situations that cause mouth injury
- chew slowly
Oral candidiasis, or oral thrush, is an infection in the mouth due to fungus. Often, the infection comes as yellow or white patches in the tongue, inside the cheeks, and on the top of the mouth.
Anyone can be at risk of oral thrush, but those with a weak immune system, older adults, and infants are at a higher risk.
Signs of oral thrush are:
- burning sensation in the mouth
- difficulty swallowing
- dry mouth
Medications and mouthwash can treat oral candidiasis. But if symptoms persist, book a follow-up appointment with your doctor right away.
HIV/AIDS and Dental Health (https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/h/hiv-aids-and-dental-health)
Causes of mouth sores in people with HIV (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323849)