A healthy mouth is not only a quality of life issue, it is also important for adequate chewing of food for proper nutrition. Disease-free teeth and gums are also the best insurance against oral infection, the pain of inflamed nerves, and the loss of teeth from gum disease.
Because most Ryan White clients have increased susceptibility to infections, we encourage them to achieve and maintain oral health by seeking care from one of our participating dentists. Clients who are HIV seropositive, but asymptomatic, may safely receive all indicated dental treatment. Generally this is true for those patients having a CD4 count of more than 400. Clients having a CD4 count less than 400 should ask their dentist if they need prophylactic antibiotics before receiving invasive dental care.
To begin receiving dental care, clients must first contact their Service Access Specialist to arrange the initial dental appointment. The dentist must be faxed a referral form prior to their first encounter. This form authorizes the dentist to provide a cleaning, perform a thorough oral evaluation, and list all dental treatment needing to be done. The dentist sends the program their list and uses dental X-rays to demonstrate why their plan is an appropriate way to restore the mouth to health. If the proposed procedures are safe and effective, the program will make payment arrangements so the dentist can begin treatment as long as funds are available.
Eligible clients having a true dental emergency (pain, bleeding, swelling, infection, or trauma) should not delay their treatment, because the risk for spread of infection increases with time. If clients have any of these problems, they must contact their Service Access Specialist to request an emergency appointment with their dentist.
Clients who have trouble eating a balanced diet due to lack of teeth may qualify for dentures. They should discuss this with their physician or dentist. Perhaps dietary counseling may be all that is needed to improve nutrition.
It is our goal to provide each of our clients with the means for a healthy mouth and the ability to chew their food. We will do our part by ensuring that our clients receive appropriate care and by distributing available funds as equitably as possible. Clients must also do their part to reduce the risk of infection by maintaining a clean mouth with thorough brushing and flossing preferably just before going to sleep, and by having a professional cleaning with fluoride done twice each year.
For additional information on topics addressing HIV and oral health vistit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site: