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Mouth problems

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Mouth problems are common in people with HIV. Although they usually are minor compared to other HIV-related health problems, they can be painful, annoying, and cause embarrassment. Mouth problems also can make eating hard. Here are some mouth problems that commonly affect people with HIV:

  • Canker sores and ulcers – Red sores on roof of mouth, tongue, inside cheeks and lips, or outside the lips.
  • Hairy leukoplakia (loo-koh-PLAY-kee-uh) – White, hairlike growths that usually appear on the side of the tongue or sometimes inside the cheeks and lower lip.
  • Thrush – White, creamy or bumpy patches appearing anywhere in the mouth.
  • Warts – Small bumps that look like cauliflower that appear on the inside of your lips or other parts of the mouth.

The most common mouth problems linked with HIV can be treated. So talk to your doctor if you notice any symptoms. See a dentist who has experience treating HIV-positive patients. With treatment, your mouth can feel better.

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More information on Mouth problems

Explore other publications and websites

  • Canker Sores - This fact sheet talks about what canker sores are and gives treatment options for severe cases.
  • Herpes Labialis - A herpes labialis infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus and can lead to fever blisters and cold sores inside or outside of the mouth. This publication discusses the causes, symptoms, and treatment of fever blisters and cold sores and when to see a doctor.
  • Leukoplakia - Hairy leukoplakia is an oral health condition that is seen mostly in people who are HIV-positive. This publication discusses leukoplakia, including the signs, symptoms, testing and treatments.
  • Mouth Problems and HIV - People who are infected with HIV can also have problems with their oral health. This publication discusses oral problems common among people with HIV and how they can be treated.
  • Oral Thrush (Copyright © Mayo Foundation) - Oral thrush, a fungal infection in the mouth, is common in people with HIV. This publication shows a picture of oral thrush and also includes symptoms and other risk factors for oral thrush.

Content last updated: July 01, 2011.

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