Hesperian Health Guides
Dental Care for a Person with HIV
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In general, there is no need to change dental treatment because a person is infected with HIV. This is especially true if the person has no signs of HIV. If there is already an infection in the mouth, use a mouth wash before treatment. This will help prevent the infection from getting worse.
There are no special problems in doing simple fillings, or fitting false teeth (dentures) for a person infected with HIV. But as the HIV infection advances to AIDS, you will be able to give better dental care if you know about any health problems the person may have. For example, if you need to take out a tooth, you must be extra careful not to cause an infection. Remember, always use clean, sterilized instruments, and when you give injections use only clean, sterilized needles and syringes, or disposables, so you do not cause infections. If you have any concerns about someone’s health, it may help to speak with a health worker.
Taking out a tooth
To take out a tooth, follow all the guidelines in Chapter 11. In addition, to prevent infection for someone with HIV, before you remove the tooth, make sure the person’s mouth is as clean as possible. A mouth rinse can help.
To prevent infection and to help with healing, gently scale or scrape away the tartar (see Chapter 8) from all the teeth. Be careful to do as little damage as possible to the gum and bone around the tooth you are taking out. An infected tooth socket (the hole that is left after you take out the tooth) in a person with HIV can be a serious problem. See information about problems after you take out a tooth.
In the later stages of HIV infection when the person has AIDS, the blood may not clot as quickly as normal. Be very gentle when you take out the teeth. Take only one tooth out at a time, and wait until bleeding is controlled before taking another one out.