For our last week of National Smile Month, we will be taking a look at HPV and oral cancer. There are a lot of things that go into making our smiles the best they can be. We have discussed men’s health and how it relates to oral health. We talked about cosmetic dentistry with teeth whitening and invisalign. And last week we touched on how the health of your heart and diabetes can affect your smile. So let’s take a look at the human papilloma virus (HPV) and see how it relates to oral cancer and your smile.
The human papilloma virus is a DNA virus that affects skin cells and mucosa. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. There are more than 40 different types of HPV that can affect the genital area as well as the mouth, oral HPV. Oral HPV can present in a couple different ways. The lower risk types can cause warts in the mouth and throat while the higher risk types can cause oral cancers. In most cases however, the HPV infection can go away without causing any health problems.
Oral cancer caused by HPV is known as oropharyngeal cancer. It can take years for the cancer to develop after being infected by HPV. The symptoms of this form of cancer can include sore throat, earaches, hoarseness, enlarged lymph nodes, pain when swallowing, and unexplained weight loss. There are people, however, who suffer from no symptoms at all. It can cause sores in the mouth and on the tongue and the loss of your teeth.
If you think you have any of the symptoms of HPV or oral cancer, please visit your physician as soon as possible. Your dentist maybe able to diagnose oral cancer early on during regular visits. If you believe you may have HPV visit your doctor to be tested. Both HPV and oral cancer are very serious conditions and both must be treated as soon as possible.
Thank you for joining us this month in celebration of National Smile Month. All of us here at Mouth Watchers want you to have the best smile possible. Don’t forget to continue to spread smiles around. You never know whose day you may change! Until next time….