Your next trip to the dentist could be even more awkward than usual — but it’s for a very good reason.
Experts are calling on dentists to discuss oral sex with their patients, highlighting the risk of mouth and throat cancers related to the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV).
HPV is transmitted to the mouth and throat mostly by performing oral sex. The infection reportedly causes about 70 percent of cancers at the back of the throat, base of the tongue or tonsils.
“Given the alarming increase of HPV-attributable oropharyngeal cancers, dentists and dental hygienists may be key agents for promoting HPV prevention,” University of South Florida College of Public Health professor Ellen Daley, Ph.D., writes in a press release.
Daley, who is leading this call to action, recently published a study in the Journal of the American Dental Association that found that dentists largely fail to discuss HPV prevention methods with their patients — but are willing to give it a shot.
“Dentists and dental hygienists are the next line of prevention of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers, and our study shows that they are willing and eager to become partners in prevention of this dreadful disease,” adds Daley.
But since this is uncharted territory, she also believes dentists should be instructed on how to talk to patients about such preventative measures.
“Like any new, sensitive topic that becomes part of a health care practice, dentists and dental hygienists need the skills to be able to talk to their patients — or [younger] patients’ parents — about it,” she tells The Post. “That includes recommending the HPV vaccine and regular oral screening exams.”