Even more than doctors, most people try to avoid dentists if they can, regardless of how they are feeling. Talking to medical professionals about things that ail us can be troublesome or downright embarrassing; and generally, dealing with the dentist, even for something as simple as routine cleaning, means resigning to mouth pain. Unfortunately, any awkward conversations you currently have with your dentist may end up becoming even more awkward. If you’re not one to kiss and tell, this is certainly the case, as your dentist may start asking about your sexual activities. The reason? Well, oral sex, naturally.
How Oral Sex Relates to Dental Health
Now, to be fair, it’s entirely possible you’ve had sex talks with your dentist before; if you’ve had any work done, you may have been told not to engage in oral sex until you’ve fully healed. However, recent research suggests that there are other causes of concern where your sex life and oral hygiene intersect. Specifically, cancer. Certain oropharyngeal cancers affect the throat, tonsils, and back of the tongue. These cancers, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), can be spread through oral sex. While many dental practices screen for it, it could still be under the radar.
The failure to communicate with patients may cause this lapse in early detection and prevention. In most cases dealing with oropharyngeal cancer, conversations about it arise only when the patient has visible signs of said cancer. If there are no symptoms found in the screening, such as a lingering sore throat or lumps in the neck, no conversation takes place. However, the failure to address the possibility of oropharyngeal cancer means passing up on the opportunity to take preventative measures, instead of merely trying to deal with the cancer if and when it does appear.
Dentists and their staff may be able to intervene in a lot of cases of oropharyngeal cancer because of the role they play in maintaining the patient’s oral health. Of course, this is much easier said than done, considering that generally, such sensitive conversations with a doctor are had behind closed doors. The relatively open environment of the dental office could discourage such conversations for both parties. However, given the alarmingly high rates of such cancers, it may be worth the embarrassment.