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Dentists can detect the first symptoms of HIV infection in the mouth

 The first symptoms of HIV can manifest themselves in the mouth.

Dentists can detect the first symptoms of HIV infection in the mouth

December 1st is World AIDS Day, a perfect time to claim the figure of the dentist as an ally in the fight against this disease. And is that oral health in people who have an infection by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) takes on a unique role: not only do patients need more care at the oral level, but also oral health can be an early indicator that there is this infection.  

Because many of the typical signs and symptoms of HIV+ first appear in the mouth, the oral health care professional often notices these changes. In addition, the mouth can be the first part of your body to show signs of HIV infection; thus, opportunistic infections, such as candidiasis (thrush), are sometimes the first indicator that the immune system is not working correctly and can be a sign of how HIV is affecting your body. Therefore, oral health professionals play an essential role in these patients' oral health and overall well-being, which cannot be underestimated. 

One-third of HIV-positive people have mouth infections and ulcers caused by lowered immune system defenses. In addition, between 30 and 50% of people with AIDS develop periodontitis, an oral disease that compromises the existence and functionality of the teeth.

Some of the conditions that can occur in the oral cavity are

- Red sores that can be either ulcers or herpes (viral infection): the former appears on the moving parts of the mouth; the latter on the palate.
- White hairy growth caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which usually appears on the inside of the cheeks, lower lip, and along with tongue.

- Creamy or raised white patches, caused by a fungal infection called candidiasis, anywhere in the mouth 
- Warts on the inside of the lips and other parts of the mouth. Consult your dentist for the most suitable treatment, and if you find the first symptoms painful, do not hesitate to go to the dentist because some of them, such as herpes, are contagious.

Oral hygiene is essential in these cases to avoid worsening infections and ulcers: brushing teeth three times a day, using mouthwashes once a day, and supporting flossing. Remember that the annual checkup of the mouth or every six months, as indicated by your trusted dentist, teeth and gums can detect the appearance of this disease. Because always, taking care of your mouth, you take care of your health.