We love to talk about the fun and interesting sides of oral health, but today, there is something much more serious on our minds. We care about the health of everyone in San Luis Obispo, and as dental care professionals, we feel it is our duty to educate you on how to be as safe and healthy as you can be. While you have probably heard of the human papillomavirus and oral cancer, most people don’t know that they are linked. Here is some information from Dr. Colleran about the topic. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Michael Colleran, DDS.
What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus refers to a family of nearly 200 strains that infect the epithelial skin cells and mucous membranes, such as the inside of the mouth, tongue, tonsils, throat, vulva, vagina, cervix, penis (through the urethral opening), and the anus. HPV is transmitted primarily through sexual contact (oral and genital) and it is one of the most common viruses in the country. According to the CDC, 8 out of 10 Americans will have an HPV infection at some point. However, 99% of HPV infections are cleared up by your immune system without any symptoms or any indication that you were ever infected.
HPV and Oral Cancer
While most of us know HPV as the sexually transmitted infection responsible for genital warts, that represents only a few strains of the virus (usually HPV6 and 11), which are low-risk. What most San Luis Obispo folks don’t know is that HPV is also responsible for causing cervical cancer (HPV16 and 18) and oral cancer. In fact, HPV 16 is now considered the leading cause of oral cancer in America. Tobacco use and alcohol consumption are also major risk factors, but they do not have as much of a proven causative effect on the development of oral cancer as human papillomavirus.
HPV and Dental Health
If you are worried about getting oral cancer, don’t fret! At Michael Colleran, DDS, we have the expertise and the technology to identify any areas of concern, track problems, and make sure that diagnosis happens as early as possible. If you would like to come in for an oral cancer screening from Dr. Colleran, contact us today!