HPV infection is a main cause of throat cancer and may be linked to gum disease.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is a virus that affects areas of the throat, mouth, feet, fingers, nails, anus and cervix – areas of the skin and the mucus membranes that line the body. HPV is divided into two types – low-risk HPV (not cancer causing, but cause benign tumors and warts in the oral cavity) and high-risk HPV (can cause throat cancer). Studies show that 40-80% of oropharyngeal cancers (throat cancer) is caused by HPV infection.
Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston analyzed HPV data from the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) carried out by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). For the study, 3,439 participants were chosen based on their oral health data and the presence or absence of 19 low-risk HPV types, and 18 high-risk HPV types. The findings showed that the participants who reported bad oral health had a 56% higher risk of developing oral HPV infection. The participants with gum disease showed a 51% higher risk of oral HPV infection, and those with dental problems showed a 28% higher risk.
“Poor oral health is a new independent risk factor for oral HPV infection and, to our knowledge, this is the first study to examine this association. 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.” Thanh Cong Bui, postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Public Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center.
It is always important to maintain good oral health. Here are a few reminders on dental care from the Mayo Clinic:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day
- Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush that fits your mouth confortably, and consider using an electric toothbrush – this can reduce plaque and gum disease.
- Practice good technique – remember to brush the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth, as well as your tongue.
- Keep your toothbrush clean – always rinse it with water after brushing, store in an upright position and allow it to air dry before using it again.
- replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every 3 to 4 months.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your oral health, phone Dr. James McElveen at 208-788-4591