HIV and Dental Disorders

HIV is an insidious and often debilitating infection. Because it weakens the immune system, the entire body becomes susceptible to wear and tear. This can result in a number of  dental disorders if not treated properly.

Symptoms of HIV arise a few days to three months after exposure and can make you prone to getting a dry mouth, oral warts, thrush, cold sores, canker sores, cavities, and certain periodontal disorders. There are also more direct oral manifestations. Although they can seem embarrassing and are often painful, treatments are available.

Linear Gingival Erythema (LGE)

LGE is a distinct, sore band of redness that runs along the edge of the teeth and gums (marginal gingival). It can also occur in HIV-negative patients.

Treatment: Debridement, chlorhexidine mouth rinse, gingival lavage, and good oral hygiene.

Oral Candidiasis

Candidiasis is the overgrowth of the fungus known as candida albicans. There are several types of candidiasis, including erythematous and chronic hyperplastic.

Treatment: Topical drugs or systemic medication.

Hairy Leukoplakia

HL is a white patch on the side of the tongue with a hairy appearance.

Treatment: Due to the lesion’s benign nature, treatment is not required.

Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis (ANUG)

ANUG is the most minor form of necrotizing periodontal disease. Although acute, it’s extremely painful and causes bleeding gums, bad breath, and leaves a metallic taste in the patient’s mouth.

Treatment: The necrotic (dead) tissue is flushed out and removed. Patients are instructed to use mouth rinses and pain medication. Oral antibiotics are given if there is systemic origin.

Kaposi Sarcoma (KS)

KS is a cancer that develops from the cells lining the lymph or blood vessels. Oral lesions are reddish-purple, flat or raised, and are usually located on the roof of the mouth or gums.

Treatment: Most common treatments include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and biologic therapy. HIV patients should be aware lesions are likely to regrow once treatment stops.


Patients with HIV should be very meticulous about their oral hygiene. Along with daily brushing, flossing, and the use of over-the-counter fluorides, regular professional care is recommended.

Please give us a call to let us know if you might be experiencing HIV-related symptoms.

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