Sexually Transmitted Diseases that affect the mouth
Dental Health
July 31, 2018
Sexually Transmitted Diseases that affect the mouth

Over 30 million new cases of Sexually Transmitted Diseases affect people in the Western Hemisphere each year. With these highly preventable diseases often come symptoms that affect your entire body – including the mouth.

Not all people who are infected will go on to have symptoms. If a person with a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) develops symptoms, they are then considered to have a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

While not all STDs are curable, they are treatable. Your dentist is an important part of your health care team.In this article I will tell you how these infections can impact your mouth.

HPV: Head and Neck Cancers

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common Sexually Transmitted Disease in the West, with an estimate of over 16 million new cases each year. There are more than 40 types of HPV that can be sexually transmitted, but most are cleared from the body by the immune system without causing any health problems. 

HPV can affect the mouth and throat. Some high-risk strains, particularly HPV-16, are associated with cancers of the head and neck. Approximately 11,000 cases of HPV-related head and neck cancers are diagnosed each year. These cancers are four times more common in men than in women.

These cancers typically develop in the throat, at the base of the tongue, in the folds of the tonsils or the back of the throat, making them difficult to detect. Although people with HPV-positive cancers have a lower risk of dying or having recurrence than those with HPV-negative cancers, early diagnosis is associated with the best outcomes. Regular dental check-ups that include an examination of the entire head and neck can be vital in detecting cancer early.

HPV: Mouth Warts

Low-risk strains of HPV may cause warts or lesions in your mouth or throat. Aside from their appearance, they often have no (or very few) symptoms, are painless and non-cancerous. They can reappear from time to time, and we may recommend having them surgically removed.

We will continue next week with more STDs that affect your mouth.