People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) experience a high incidence of common oral health problems such as dental decay/cavities and gingivitis as well as other oral health problems that are directly related to HIV infection. In addition, nearly half of PLWHA will have at least one major HIV-related oral health problem—bacterial, viral, and fungal infections as well as cancer and ulcers. Poor oral health also impedes food intake and nutrition, leading to poor absorption of HIV medications and leaving PLWHA susceptible to progression of their disease.
HIV medications have side effects such as dry mouth, which predisposes PLWHA to dental decay, periodontal disease, and fungal infections. Bacterial infections that begin in the mouth can escalate to systemic infections and harm the heart and other organs if not treated, particularly in PLWHA with severely compromised immune systems.
Poor oral health can adversely affect quality of life and limit career opportunities and social contact as a result of alterations in facial appearance and odor.
Open Door is able to assist with accessing oral health services. Open Door has contracted with several local dentists to complete oral evaluations and to determine service needs. In most cases we are able to assist with most of the costs.
If you would like additional information about oral health services, please contact Perry Maier at 630-264-1819 X 319 or e-mail him at PerryM@odhcil.org.