The last decade has seen an increase in public awareness of just how important our dental and oral health are. We know that taking care of our teeth and gums can allows us to eat well, start the digestion process properly and have a nice, bright smile.
But there are many other reasons why oral health is important. Not getting proper oral health care can lead to other health conditions, including something as serious as cancer.
Let's take a look at five other reasons that oral health is vital.
Neck, oral, mouth and head cancers are on the rise. While smoking is still a factor in these kinds of cancers, the rise of the HPV virus is also looming large.
HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that can lead to cervical cancer in women, and other cancers in men and women like rectal cancer, as well as oral cancers (from oral sex). Men who are now in their 50s are seeing a rise in oral and throat cancers from sexual behaviors in their younger years.
The news publication AZ Central interviewed Dr. Randy Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer is a board certified otolaryngologist/head and neck surgeon that specializes in the treatment of cancer in the head and neck region at Maricopa Integrated Health System in Arizona.
When asked about why oral and throat cancers are on the rise, he said that “...the principal risk factor is exposure to the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). More people are developing throat cancer because of prior exposure to the HPV virus. HPV is a group of more than 150 types of viruses, usually associated with benign growths called papillomas or warts. However, certain strains are not so benign and have been associated with different types of cancer, such a cervical cancer in women. HPV 16 is linked to both cervical cancer and throat cancer.”
Just like quitting cigarettes is a good idea to avoid some cancers, practicing safer (oral) sex can help avoid some of these neck and oral cancers.
Symptoms of these cancers can include sore throats, swollen glands, difficulty swallowing and pain in the mouth.