Is There Any Link Between HPV And Oral Cancer?

Is There Any Link Between HPV And Oral Cancer?

Dental education for patients

Our clinical team were recently discussing the link between HPV and oral cancer, and we thought that it would be useful to write a blog post on this to provide advice for our valued patients.

There has been much written in dental magazines and health journals about HPV and oral cancer, and here at the Confidental Clinic Streatham we appreciate that it can be confusing and worrying for patients trying to establish the facts.

As you would expect, we advise any patient who is concerned about any dental health issues to get in touch with us and book in for a full examination with one of our team.

What is HPV?

The NHS defines HPV (Human papillomavirus) as the name for a common group of over 100 skin-based viruses that do not cause problems in most people, but some types can cause cancer for a small percentage of people. The virus is easy to catch and most types affect mouth, throat and genital areas. It is a common sexually-transmitted virus and infection, with more than 200 strains currently known, but most of these are harmless and do not cause cancer.

Only nine of the strains have been linked to causing cancer, and there is only one main strain called HPV Number 16 which has been associated with speeding up oral cancer.

What are the signs and symptoms of HPV?

According to the NHS, the majority of HPV types have no symptoms so most people do not know if they have it. It is common, and many people will get some type of the virus in their life without any significant or adverse effects.

One of the best ways to maintain optimum oral health is to ensure that you regularly have full dental examinations with one of our  dentists.

How can our dentists help to detect the signs of HPV?

Our team of dentists at the Confidental Clinic in South West London are on-hand to reassure, guide and advise all of our patients, and a full check-up should help to ease any concerns regarding this virus.

Is there a link between HPV and oral cancer?

The Oral Cancer Foundation states that none of the oral cancer screening tests can currently help in identifying the virus. There is no indication, even if a patient has HPV, that this will develop into any form of oral cancer. Furthermore, the Foundation says that even if an HPV-type infection is detected, only about one per cent of patients that develop this infection will ever see this then develop further. This typically happens decades later, according to the Foundation, and they advise that the most practical way to screen for HPV or oral cancer is through a visual examination given by a dentist or medical professional.

How can you prevent HPV?

Because a patient can have the virus without ever knowing it, the virus often produces no signs or symptoms, making prevention difficult for many. The NHS states that although HPV is a sexually-transmitted virus, it is not necessary to have penetrative sex to get it. The infection can be contracted from any skin-to-skin contact of the genital area, by vaginal, anal or oral sex, and by sharing sex toys.

It is very common, and with so many strains of it, most people will get some type of HPV during their lifetime with no adverse effect to their health.

Is there any way to spot HPV at home?

Our family dentists recommend that all patients carefully monitor their oral health at home, and whilst there’s no way to measure any contraction or spread of an infection at home, maintaining oral health is paramount. Most of the time, the virus doesn’t cause any health issues or problems, although in some people a small number of HPV strains can cause head and neck cancers, or cause abnormal changes in cells that can sometimes turn into cancer. These strains linked to cancer are called high-risk types.

What should you do if you spot a lump, red sore, or inflammation?

In terms of monitoring oral health at home, our team of dentists at Confidental Clinic recommend that patients check their mouth, tongue and gums for inflammation, red sores, raised areas, or sore areas and contact us if worried. Most of the time, this will be a temporary issues and not related to any HPV or oral cancer, but our team of dentists are available to help you in the clinic.

To find out more about the range of dentist services in Streatham we offer, please get in touch today on 020 8674 2052.

To read other blog posts our experienced dental team have written recently, please visit here.

To find out more about HPV and oral cancer issues and how we can help you if suffering from it, please call our dental clinic on 020 8674 2052 and mention this blog post.