Over the past few decades, many Americans dissatisfied with the appearance of their smiles have sought the assistance of cosmetic dentistry -- everything from porcelain veneers to whitening treatments to dental implants. However, for those who are HIV-positive, undergoing certain elective dental procedures could pose some additional health risks. Read on to learn more about how cosmetic dentistry can benefit HIV-positive persons, as well as some of the extra precautions you may need to take before and after your procedure to protect your health.
What types of cosmetic dental procedures are safe for HIV-positive patients?
Most cosmetic treatments are safe for HIV-positive individuals, as they involve superficial exposure to nerve endings or blood vessels. Laser or chemical teeth whitening treatments are non-invasive, and porcelain veneers are essentially no different than a cavity filling. In many cases, veneers will even help improve your bite pattern, minimizing wear on your other teeth and potential decay problems down the line. Some may even argue that those who have cosmetic dentistry performed are more likely to keep up with regular dental checkups to ensure their new teeth are kept in good shape. Because the mouth harbors a great deal of potentially harmful bacteria, having regular dental checkups is crucial for anyone suffering from HIV or AIDS.
However, there is one treatment generally contraindicated for those suffering from HIV or AIDS -- dental implants. During this process, a damaged tooth is removed and the root replaced with a threaded titanium rod. After this rod has integrated into the bone of your jaw, a tooth-colored crown is screwed onto the rod to perfectly blend with your other teeth. While these implants can be a long-lasting solution to damaged or missing teeth, the osseointegration process can be complicated if dealing with an autoimmune disorder or HIV. Your body may reject the implant, requiring you to have a dental bridge or even surgery to reconstruct your gum tissue in the implant area.
What should you do to protect your health while undergoing cosmetic dental treatment?
Taking good care of yourself both before and after your treatment will help minimize the odds of complications or later repair. If you take antiviral drugs that tend to cause dry mouth, you'll want to ensure you always have water (and a straw) handy to moisten your mouth. A dry mouth can create the ideal breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to infection elsewhere in your body. If you're having any procedure performed in which the dentist will be cutting into your gums or drawing blood, you may also want to take some prophylactic antibiotics to help prevent infection. Contact a cosmetic dentist, like Daniel M. Bade, DDS, for more information.