HPV infection

Cancer-Causing Oral HPV Infection Linked to Poor Oral Health

Oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the cause of 40% to 80% of oropharyngeal cancers. A new study reports that people with signs of poor oral health like gum disease and missing teeth are more likely to be infected with oral HPV.

“Because HPV needs wounds in the mouth to enter and infect the oral cavity, poor oral health, which may include ulcers, mucosal disruption or chronic inflammation, may create an entry portal for HPV,” said Thanh Cong Bui, Dr.P.H., postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Public Health at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston.

"The good news is, this risk factor is modifiable — by maintaining good oral hygiene and good oral health, one can prevent HPV infection and subsequent HPV-related cancers."

According to the American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in the United States for 2013:

  • About 36,000 people will get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer.
  • An estimated 6,850 people will die of these cancers.

Periodontal (gum) disease is often silent, without symptoms until an advanced stage of the disease. That’s why, at Dr. Michael’s Dental Clinic, we recommend that you observe effective oral hygiene and visit your dentist every six months for cleanings and check-ups.

This study is published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

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