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Mar 15, 2000


Are retracting gums related to HAART? I'm on Viracept+3tc+D4t and my upper left gums are retracting and you can start seeing the root of my teeth. My dentist said that It's because of plaque, that nothing can be done to fix that and that dental floss would prevent them from going on retracting.

Need your advice



Response from Dr. Reznik

Dear FD:

What you may be experiencing are the effects of xerostomia (dry mouth) which is a common side effect of HAART. There are numerous reports of "brittle teeth" (rapidly advancing dental decay) in people who are on combination therapy, which I believe to a great degree is caused by dry mouth. It also follows that periodontal disease may result from dry mouth. Saliva has several important functions including protecting teeth from decay and preventing infection by controlling bacteria and fungi. You may be building up more plaque and calculus and therefore experiencing periodontal disease which could result in receding 'gums'.

What can you do if you are having problems with dry mouth?

Sip water or sugarless drinks often. Avoid drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and some sodas. Caffeine can dry out the mouth. Sip water or a sugarless drink during meals. This will make chewing and swallowing easier. It may also improve the taste of food. Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candy to stimulate saliva flow; citrus, cinnamon or mint-flavored candies are good choices. Don't use tobacco or alcohol. They dry out the mouth. Be aware that spicy or salty foods may cause pain in a dry mouth. Use a humidifier at night. (This information is courtesy of the National Oral Health Information Clearinghouse, NOHIC which has an excellent website at the following URL: )

Tips for keeping your mouth healthy:

Gently brush your teeth at least twice a day. Floss your teeth every day. Use toothpaste with fluoride in it. Most toothpastes sold at grocery and drug stores have fluoride in them. Avoid sticky, sugary foods. If you do eat them, brush immediately afterwards. Visit your dentist for a check-up at least twice a year. Your dentist might give you a special fluoride toothpaste, such as Prevident 5000 Plus, that will help keep your teeth healthy.

I hope this helps!


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