Dental hygienist warns having oral sex could increase chances of HPV and cancer

Dental hygienist warns having oral sex could increase chances of HPV and cancer

21/02/2020

A leading dental hygienist has warned of the increasing linked between HPV and oral cancer in young people.

Whether you’re in a relationship or not, sometimes our inhibitions are forgotten when it comes to safe sex and in the heat of the moment, contraception might slip our minds.

But Anna Middleton, who is also the founder of London Hygienist, is trying to remind patients that it’s not just STIs that you need to be worried about when it comes to unprotected sex.

She said: “You may wonder what sex has got to do with a dentist, but there is an increasing amount of evidence showcasing a link between Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and oral cancer.

“This risk factor should urge patients to visit their dental practice routinely for oral cancer screening.

“Valentine’s Day is the one-day of the year we see a spike in sexual activity and therefore there is an increased risk of contracting HPV.”

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The main risks associated with mouth and throat cancer remain drinking alcohol, smoking or chewing tobacco.

However, there is a growing amount of evidence that an increasing proportion of cancer is caused by a HPV infection in the mouth.

Around 1 in 4 mouth cancers and 1 in 3 throat cancers are HPV related.

Anna continued: “This isn’t something to just pretend isn’t happening. There are stark facts out there about the rise of mouth cancer, especially in young people, caused by HPV. People need to be aware when engaging in sexual activity and take the right precautions.

“If you’re worried about HPV, ensure you consult your GP and continue to see your dentist and dental hygienist on a regular basis.”

HPV can be contracted by any skin-to-skin contact in the genital area, vaginal, anal or oral sex and sharing sex toys.

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Here are the warning signs to watch out for:

  • Red, or red and white, patches on your tongue or the lining of your mouth
  • Ulcers that do not heal after 3 weeks
  • A swelling in your mouth that lasts for more than 3 weeks
  • Pain when swallowing
  • A feeling as though something's stuck in your throat

Anna suggests visiting your dentist at least once a year and your hygienist at least twice a year for routine dental check-ups, cleanings and oral screenings.

  • Cancer

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