Your dentist can alert you to oral and oro-pharyngeal cancer
When HPV settles into the lining of the mouth, and lives there for a long time, it can cause oral cancer, according to Dr. Villa. If the body is able to “clear” the infection, which usually takes about a median time of 7 months, then the body is rid of it and the infection does not progress to cancer, he explained.
In cases where the infection does not clear, it can develop into cancer.
Dr. Villa stressed the importance of dentists and hygienists looking for any changes or lesions in all areas of the mouth including the back of throat and most importantly under the tongue during exams.
Beginning the conversation about the link between HPV and oral cancer is important for the oral health community, Eileen Duffey-Lind, RN, MSN, CPNP, founder of Team Maureen told the gathering. She and her team have developed “Tips for Talking about HPV at the Dentist,” to help dentists educate their patients.
When the dentist or hygienist speaks with a patient, Team Maureen has also provided pre-printed prescription reminder that states, “Call your doctor to make an appointment for the cancer prevention vaccine.”
The focus of the conversation is not about sex but about prevention, Duffy-Lind emphasized. Even though parents don’t like to think their children will be sexually active, some day they will be, she said.
All boys and girls, ages 11-12 years should be vaccinated against the HPV virus, or at least before the age of 14, as this is the time their immune systems have the greatest immune response, said Duffey-Lind.
Males can get caught up with the vaccine through 21 and females, through age 26 if they did not receive the vaccine when they were younger, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
More information is available by going to the Team Maureen website.