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Leading Dental Hygienist Warns Of The Increasing Link Between HPV and Oral Cancer In Young People


By David Saunders | UPDATED: 05:28, 13 February 2020

Leading dental hygienist, Anna Middleton, warns of the increasing risk of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) being linked to oral cancer in young people – so much so it could supersede alcohol and smoking as a risk associated with oral cancer.

Whether you’re loved up or single and ready to mingle, there is no getting away from the fact that Valentines Day is just around the corner.  And with the most romantic day of the year comes a rise in passion and increased sexual activity.

Whether you’re out for a romantic dinner and wine with a loved one, or a night out on the town with friends, often our inhibitions are forgotten and in the heat of the moment – contraception – is the last thing on your mind.

However, as leading dental hygienist and founder of London Hygienist ( ), Anna Middleton, is reminding patients that it is not just STIs and STDs you need to be worried about when enjoying yourself this valentines day.

Middleton states: “You may wonder what sex has got to do with a dentist, but there is an increasing amount of evidence showcasing a link between Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and oral cancer. This risk factor should urge patients to visit their dental practice routinely for oral cancer screening. Valentines Day is the one-day of the year we see a spike in sexual activity and therefore there is an increased risk of contracting HPV”

The main risks associated with mouth and throat cancer remain drinking alcohol, smoking or chewing tobacco. However, there is a growing amount of evidence that an increasing proportion of cancer is caused by a HPV infection in the mouth. London Hygienist, Anna Middleton warns that HPV is due to supersede alcohol and smoking as a risk associated with oral cancer.

Around 1 in 4 mouth cancers and 1 in 3 throat cancers are HPV related, but in younger patients most throat cancers are now HPV-related[1].

About HPV

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a viral infection that s passed between people through skin to skin contact – there are more than 100 varieties, of which, more than 40 are passed through sexual contact and can affect your genitals, mouth or throat. And without the right precautions, they are easy to catch. You don’t need to actually have penetrative sex to catch it.

You can get HPV from:

  • Any skin-to-skin contact of the genital area

  • Vaginal, anal or oral sex

  • Sharing sex toys

HPV has no symptoms, so you may not know if you have it and it is very common infact, the majority of people will get some type of HPV in their life. For women HPV testing is part of cervical screening but there is no blood test for HPV. So, if you are worried, make sure you consult your GP for medical advice.

Founder of London Hygienist, Anna Middleton, continues: “This isn’t something to just pretend isn’t happening. There are stark facts out there about the rise of mouth cancer, especially in young people, caused by HPV. People need to be aware when engaging in sexual activity and take the right precautions. If you’re worried about HPV, ensure you consult your GP and continue to see your dentist and dental hygienist on a regular basis.”

Worried about oral cancer? Leading Dental Hygienist, Anna Middleton scribes the warning signs and things to watch out for:

  • Red, or red and white, patches on your tongue or the lining of your mouth

  • Ulcers that do not heal after 3 weeks

  • Aswelling in your mouth that lasts for more than 3 weeks

  • Pain when swallowing

  • A feeling as though something’s stuck in your throat

Visit your dentist at least once a year and your hygienist at least twice a year for routine dental check-ups, cleanings and oral screenings.

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