Study Examines Oral Health, HPV Infection

Good oral health may reduce the risk of human papillomavirus infections in the mouth and subsequent HPV-related cancers, said a study published Aug. 23 in the American Association for Cancer Research journal.

The University of Texas Health Science Center research team believes theirs is the first published study to examine the role of oral health in oral HPV infection. They examined the relation between oral health and oral HPV infection and the interactive effects of oral health, smoking and oral sex on oral HPV infection.

“Overall, this study indicates that poor oral health is an independent risk factor for oral HPV infection, irrespective of smoking status and oral sex behavior,” the study concluded. “Given that oral hygiene is fundamental for oral health and that it is modifiable, public health interventions may aim to promote oral hygiene and oral health as additional preventive measures for HPV-related oral cancers.”

“Our results also contribute to the knowledge of oral and oropharyngeal cancer pathogenesis attributable to poor oral health, by suggesting its indirect relationship through oral HPV infection.”

More research is needed to enhance understanding of the relationship between poor oral health and oral HPV infection, the researchers said.

They identified 3,439 participants in the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), ages 30-69, for whom data were available on oral health and the presence or absence of 19 low-risk HPV types and 18 high-risk HPV types in the mouth.

“Poor oral health is a new, independent risk factor for oral HPV infection and, to our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the association,” said Thanh Cong Bui, doctor of public health and a postdoctoral research fellow in the Houston health science center. “The good news is, this risk factor is modifiable – by maintaining good oral hygiene and good oral health, one can prevent HPV infection and subsequent HPV-related cancers.”

The study was published in the AACR journal Cancer Prevention Research.

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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