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Effects of Human Papillomavirus to our Oral Health

Posted on 4/10/2023 by Dr. Nick Raptou
Effects of Human Papillomavirus to our Oral HealthAt an annual rate of 14 million, the human papillomavirus (HPV) is easily the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the USA. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report over 40 distinct forms of HPV; nonetheless, the majority are harmless and are eliminated by the immune system.

Nevertheless, some strains of HPV can lead to issues in the mouth and throat. Low-risk strains can cause oral warts, while high-risk strains have been linked to head and neck malignancies such as those of the tongue, tonsils, and throat. Cancer of the mouth is just one type among the many that can strike the head and neck.

Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer Caused by HPV

Redness, white spots, pain, soreness, or numbness in the mouth or lips; a severe or continuous discomfort or irritation; difficulty eating, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue; enlargement of lumps or tissue; rough patches; crusty or degraded areas; thickening of tissue.

Some people report symptoms to include a painful throat, a sense that something is lodged in the throat, hoarseness, a change in voice, earaches, pain when swallowing, and even sudden, unexplained weight loss. If these symptoms last longer than two weeks, it is best to see a dentist.

Where do Cancers Associated with HPV Tend to Manifest Themselves?

HPV-related malignancies of the head and neck are notoriously hard to identify because they frequently appear in locations that the human immune system cannot access, such as the throat, behind the tongue, and the tonsil folds. Consistent dental checkups incorporating a full head and neck exam is important, for it has been linked to earlier cancer diagnoses.

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