People living with HIV/AIDS require special considerations when it comes to dental care. While nearly all patients with HIV can tolerate routine dental care and procedures, including oral surgery, it is important to plan treatment on an individual basis. This should be done in consultation with the patient and their doctor, as appropriate. Helene Bednarsh, BS, RDH, MPH, director of the Boston Public Health Commission's HIV Dental Advocacy Program and dental director of the New England AIDS Education and Training Center in Boston, emphasizes the importance of following treatment regimens to promote oral health.It is important to note that, 34 years after the pandemic began, there have been no documented cases of HIV seroconversion from a patient to a dental health worker after exposure in a dental environment.
This is due to the many opportunities for dental, medical and support teams to collaborate and ensure that patients with HIV are connected to medical and dental care, stay in care, and comply with prescribed treatment regimens. Rapid HIV testing has become commonplace in many dental education centers and public and private dental programs. When providing dental care for people living with HIV/AIDS, it is essential to take into account their individual needs. This includes considering their medical history, current medications, and any other factors that may affect their oral health. It is also important to ensure that they are comfortable with the treatment plan and understand how it will help them maintain good oral health. Dental professionals should also be aware of any potential side effects of medications that may affect oral health.
For example, some antiretroviral drugs can cause dry mouth or taste changes. These side effects can be managed through lifestyle changes or medications prescribed by a doctor. Finally, it is important for people living with HIV/AIDS to receive regular dental check-ups. This will help them maintain good oral health and catch any potential problems early on. Regular check-ups also provide an opportunity for patients to discuss any concerns they may have about their oral health.