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FAQs About Dental Care For Patients With HIV

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If you have HIV, there may be certain foods, medications, and surgeries that are contraindicated since they may affect your immune system. If you've just been diagnosed with HIV, you may wonder if it'll affect your oral health and whether or not you can get oral health care. Read on to find some answers to your questions.

Can You Get Dental Work Done if You Have HIV?

While each patient scenario is different, most patients can tolerate routine dental procedures and should proceed with this type of care. Some HIV clinics offer both primary healthcare and dental care at the same facilities so that dentists can work closely with your doctors. However, you can also get dental care done in many offices because dentists follow transmission-based precautions for all their patients, whether they have HIV or not. These precautions include personal protective gear—such as gloves and goggles—sterilization methods, and proper sharp disposal. Your dentist can still use instruments that create aerosolized particulates since the major risk of HIV is due to percutaneous injuries, not airborne transmission. Ultimately, you can receive dental care because the American Dental Association's (ADA) code of ethics says that dentists are obligated to treat those in need and cannot discriminate against those with HIV.

What Oral Health Issues Do Patients with HIV Face?

Not only can you get dental work done, but you should stay on top of your preventative dental care if you have HIV. Patients with HIV may be more susceptible to thrush, hairy leukoplakia, dry mouth, gum disease, jawbone loss, and cavities. With good preventative dental care, your dentist can stay on top of these issues with oral screenings, antifungal treatments, periodontal probing, and teeth cleaning. If you do need more invasive oral surgery, then your dentist can help you understand complications and weigh the pros and cons.

What Do You Need to Tell Your Dentist?

In all but one state, you are not legally required to disclose your HIV status when you visit a dentist. However, there are a lot of good reasons to disclose your status during a dental intake appointment. You could have adverse drug interactions between the dental antibiotics or anesthetics and your medications; if your provider is aware of your condition, they can look for alternatives. Your condition or medications may cause side effects, like dry mouth, so disclosing your status can help your dentist monitor these issues. Also, since HIV antiretroviral therapies can be associated with glucose intolerance and abnormal bleeding, it's important for your dentist to know about these possible complications for more invasive oral surgeries.

Reach out to a dentist in your area who provides HIV dental work for more information.