Why is Oral Health Important?
Poor oral health can affect both physical and emotional well-being as it can impact upon our appearance, interpersonal relations, nutritional health, speech, and can also be a contributing factor to a number of secondary health conditions. Also, some oral health conditions may occur more frequently among people living with HIV (PLHIV).
Although you may not always be reminded of it; good oral hygiene and dental health care is recommended as an important part of supporting your immune system and managing your overall health. The HIV and your Oral Health Factsheet recommends five essential steps to maintaining a healthy mouth and prevention of more serious oral health diseases or conditions. These are brushing (twice daily), flossing (prior to brushing once daily), drinking water (2-3 litres per day), eating healthy foods (avoiding sugars and plaque forming acids), and getting regular dental check-ups (at least annually).
Oral Health and Disclosing your HIV Status
Please know that you are not legally required to disclose your HIV status to your dentist. However, if your HIV status is relevant to the treatment you are obtaining then disclosing your status may lead to the best outcomes.
Getting a regular clean and check should never require disclosure.
At QPP, we are continuously developing referral pathways for assistance and support – including dental professionals who are HIV knowledgeable, supportive and welcoming. We would be happy to provide information if you are interested in these contacts, or if you are experiencing distress around access to dental health care.
Quick Oral Health Self Assessment
- Has it been more than 1 year since you have been to the dentist?
- Do you have tooth pain, mouth sores, bleeding gums or loose teeth?
- Do you often have a dry mouth or experience a change in your sense of taste?
You need to see a dentist if you answered YES to any of the above questions.
Don’t wait until you are having problems with your teeth as you could end up with infection, pain or tooth loss. If you can’t chew or swallow because your mouth hurts, you may not eat enough to maintain sufficient nutritional intake which could impact medication absorption with overall negative implications for your health.
Who is Eligible?
Since the closure of the Commonwealth Chronic Conditions Dental Scheme (CCDS) in 2012, adults in Queensland can only access free public dental care, delivered via a range of facilities including mobile dental clinics and community dental clinics if they meet the following requirements.
For adults and their dependants to be eligible for free public dental care they must be a Queensland resident and, where applicable, receive benefits from any of the following concession cards:
- Pensioner Concession Card issued by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
- Pensioner Concession Card issued by Centrelink
- Health Care Card
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
- Queensland Seniors Card
Obtaining Access for Routine and Emergency Dental Care
If you have any difficulties obtaining a timely appointment for your condition at a public oral health facility, you are encouraged to ask them if there may be other ways they can assist in obtaining a prompt review and treatment.
If you are still unable to access oral healthcare within a reasonable timeframe (for routine or emergency care), please contact QPP as we may be able to further assist in other pathways.
Spending time with friends and family, and spending time in group and community activities improves mental and general health. QPP even has social groups that you can join and meet new people.
It is not uncommon for people to experience unhappiness, distress, anxiety or depression at some point, but there are a lot of other things you can do to look after your mental health and wellbeing.
Regular STI testing is the best way to identify if you have contracted an STI, and is particularly important if you are sexually active.
Smoking, Drugs & Alcohol
Smoking, alcohol and drug overuse can contribute to feelings of depression, and have negative impacts to your body, but help is available.
Our trained team is here to help you should you have any questions or need support. You can contact QPP toll free from a Queensland land-line on 1800 636 241 or (07) 3013 5555 nationally, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our contact us form.