Dentists asked to help stop spread of HPV by asking about patient's oral sex life

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A "call to arms" has been sent out to dentists to further the preventive efforts against human papillomavirus (HPV).

According to a statement from the University of South Florida in Tampa, a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association concluded that dentists don't discuss HPV preventive methods to their patients.

HPV currently causes 73 per cent of oropharyngeal cancers, which impact the base of the tongue, tonsils and walls of the pharynx.

"Given the alarming increase of HPV-attributable oropharyngeal cancers, dentists and dental hygienists may be key agents for promoting HPV prevention," said lead investigator Dr. Ellen Daley, a professor at the University of South Florida College of Public Health.

She added, "However, there's a serious need for better training and education in the dental community."

Some of the difficulties pointed out included proper communication skills and uncertainty if the subject should be discussed with an adolescent patient or his/her parent.

HPV prevention methods are generally discussed by pediatricians, family medicine practitioners, gynecologists and obstetricians. Dentists may need to step up their communication game and learn to ask about their patient's sexual activities. particularly involving oral ones.

On the other hand, dental appointments may become even less appealing for some individuals.