Periodontal Implications of HIV Not Always Understood by Dentists


Dentists and dental hygienists lack expertise in how HIV infection affects patients' teeth, according to a study published in the journal 2017. public health frontier.1 In comparison, periodontists and oral medicine practitioners have more comprehensive knowledge in this subject area.

HIV currently affects approximately 38.4 million people worldwide, and the death toll from the disease is expected to rise. Among other effects, HIV can cause oral lesions and periodontal disease, even in those receiving treatment.Periodontitis and gingivitis are the two most common manifestations of HIV. Changes in the composition of salivary microorganisms2 May be the result of HIV infection in children. Although this is not a major form of transmission, the possibility of cross-contamination while in the dental office is not impossible. This study aimed to assess the knowledge of dentists and dental hygienists about HIV and its impact on periodontal disease.

HIV awareness ribbon | Image source: barbaliss – stock.adobe.com

This cross-sectional survey primarily recruited senior dental and dental hygiene students from institutions across Saudi Arabia. Dentists and dental hygienists were also recruited from private and government hospitals. Participants were excluded if they did not provide consent or were under 18 years of age.

The questionnaire was distributed on an online platform and all participants were encouraged to participate via email and WhatsApp. The questionnaire was developed by two periodontists and modified after distribution to a small number of participants.Answers to questions include Very much agree, agree, not sure, disagreeand Strongly opposed. The questionnaire focused on periodontal manifestations in HIV patients, periodontal management, HIV management, and educational statements about HIV and periodontal disease.

There were 486 participants in the study, with a mean (SD) age of 24.26 (7.53) years. The average comprehension score across all participants was 10.31 (9.34). The highest scores were seen among patients aged 31 to 40 years (20.67 [8.31]) followed by people aged 40 and above (19.38 [9.39]); participants aged 20 to 30 years old scored lower (9.53 [8.96]) and those under 20 (8.92 [8.57]). Male participants scored significantly lower (8.74 [7.57]) compared to female participants (15.06 [12.2]).

Dentists in general scored higher on understanding (15.56) [8.12]) with dental students (11.13 [10.44]). Dental hygiene students also had a lower average score (5.52 [3.56]) compared to dental hygienists (7.67 [9.72]). Periodontists have a much better understanding of HIV than other dental professionals (9.77 [8.25]).

This study has its limitations. The number of survey items can lead to survey fatigue. The expert panel also had a smaller number of participants, which may limit comparisons.

The authors concluded that dental professionals know less about the relationship between HIV and periodontal effects than do periodontists and dental practitioners. Future developments should improve HIV education among dentists in the region.

refer to

  1. Ahmed MM. Dentists' and dental hygienists' understanding of the periodontal effects and management associated with HIV infection. public health frontier. Released online on April 4, 2024.
  2. Xiao ML. Immunosuppression accounts for changes in the oral microbiota of children with HIV. asian joint management committee. August 5, 2020.



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