Dentist Dunwoody: Oral cancer by HPV is on the rise.

Hygiene examHPV (human papilloma virus) is not only on the rise, but it is now the number one cause of oral cancer. This needs to be taken seriously because it is truly a 21st-century pandemic. HPV a sexually transmitted disease and the scary fact is that one out of every two people is at risk of HPV infection.[1] That is 50% of the population. The predominant mode of transmission for the HPV virus that causes the oral cancer is a result of partners engaging in oral sex.[2]

HPV is the same virus that is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancer in women.  Traditionally, oral cancer was predominately caused by smoking and alcohol consumption.  But the rise in oral HPV will lead to death in one of four people with oral cancer. This will happen because it was not diagnosed in time.  Yet, this type oral cancer is one of the easiest cancers to spot, diagnose and treat.

Dr. Oz says testing for HPV is something everyone needs to do to prevent fatalities from oral cancer.  Here are the steps he suggests:

* Demand an oral cancer screening with every dentist visit, but at least one a year.

* Limit alcohol and tobacco use

* Limit exposure to UV radiation. Make sure your lip balm has a high SPF rating

* Practice safe sex.

Dr. Oz says that we need to change the way we had sex in America. Your sex partner must wear a condom throughout your entire sexual partnership or completely abstain from sex orally. The more we continually have transmission of HPV virus into the mouth, the more and more we will have these oral cancers showing up.[3]

Unfortunately, we in the dental field find there is a disconnect in the patient understanding the relationship between their dental exams and their overall health.  Most patients do not realize or accept that the dentist is more than a just a tooth mechanic and their mouth houses more than just teeth.  Each day we try to educate our patients about the value their dental exams entail.

Early detection is the key to stopping this pandemic before it’s too late. The first line of defense is through your dentist.  And when offered a salivary DNA test, realize it’s for your own preventive care.   Those who should be tested are:

  • Patients with traditional risk factors for oral cancer
  • Patients who are sexually active
  • Patients with a family history of oral cancer
  • Patients with signs and symptoms of oral cancer
  • Patients with suspicious oral lesions.

If we can be of help, please feel free to contact us for a Salivary DNA test conducted in our Sandy Springs Office.

Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC

290 Carpenter Drive, 200A

Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA 30328


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[2] Dr. Bert W. O’Malley, Jr M.D., Head and Neck Surgeon, on the Dr. Oz Show (2011).

[3] Dr. Oz Show (2011)

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