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Oral Health

Oral Health




Oral health

 Too often we take essential parts of our everyday lives for granted.  Oral health is not only important for a nice smile and to keep our breath smelling good.  It is important for overall health and nutrition as well.  The CDC states that oral disease ranging from cavities to oral cancer causes discomfort and disability for millions of Americans each year.  Cavities can cause pain, absences from work or school, and make eating difficult.   Another common oral health issue is gum disease, defined as an infection caused by bacteria that get under the gum tissue and begin destroying teeth and bone.  The CDC states gum disease may also be connected to other health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.   They note that more research is under way to examine the nature of the connections.


Oral health makes a difference in people living with HIV/AIDS.  The US Department of Health and Human Services states that oral health problems are common among people living with HIV/AIDS.  Not only do they experience a lot of common issues, like cavities and gum disease, they also are susceptible to other oral health problems because of HIV.  AIDS.gov identifies some oral health issues common to people living with HIV/AIDS as: oral warts, fever blisters, oral hairy leukoplakia, thrush, and canker sores.  In addition, dry mouth is a side effect of HIV medication.  Dry mouth predisposes people living with HIV/AIDS to dental decay, periodontal disease, and fungal infection.  Any of these conditions also impedes food intake and nutrition, of critical importance in someone with a chronic disease.  Not only is it vitally important to be able to ingest nutrients to be able to function, it is important for the absorption of HIV medications.  Further, bacterial infections that start in or around the mouth can escalate to systemic infections and harm other areas of the body if not treated, especially in people with severely compromised immune systems who can’t fight off the infection by themselves.


Tips from the Pro’s For Good Oral Health


  • See your dentist regularly.  Ask about the best way to care for your mouth and teeth.  Let them know if you are experiencing dry mouth or if you notice changes in how your mouth looks or feels.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day.   After every meal is better!
  • Floss every day.  Flossing reaches parts of the teeth brushing alone can’t.
  • Take all your medications on schedule.  This will help prevent opportunistic infections.

tooth and toothbrush

Catherine Wyatt Morley

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