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Oral Health for People With HIV

Good oral health is an important part of managing HIV and your overall health. Make oral health care a regular part of taking care of yourself.

With the right treatment, your mouth can feel better. That is a big step toward living well with HIV.

How can HIV affect my oral health?

HIV attacks the immune system, which protects the body from infections and illness.

A weakened immune system can lead to oral infections.

HIV can also cause dry mouth. It can affect the glands that produce saliva, which can cause your mouth to produce less saliva.

  • Saliva protects your teeth and gums from plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria. Plaque buildup can cause tooth decay (cavities), gum disease, and bad breath. Saliva also helps fight off infections.
  • If dry mouth is not treated, it can lead to other health problems.
  • Dry mouth can also be a side effect of some HIV medicines.

If you have HIV, you’re also at increased risk for oral health problems such as:

  • Cavities
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Bone loss around the teeth – also known as periodontitis
  • Thrush – a mouth infection also called oral candidiasis
  • Kaposi sarcoma – a cancer that causes patches of abnormal tissue to grow under the skin, in the lining of the mouth, nose, and throat, or in other organs
  • Oral papillomas (warts)
  • Canker sores or fever blisters – fluid-filled blisters on the outside of the mouth around the lips

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