Dental Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Is Increasingly Being Essay

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Dental

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is increasingly being recognized as a province of general oral hygiene, making dentists and dental hygienists responsible for recognizing warning signs. HPV is a risk factor for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma, a form of oral cancer. It may also be a risk factor in other oropharynx diseases, including cancers of the tonsil and tongue (American Dental Association, 2013). As many as 63% of oral cancers diagnosed have been linked to the presence of HPV. Thus, it is imperative for dentists and other oral health practitioners to help prevent the spread of HPV and identify its presence in patients.

Many Americans will test positive for HPV, but symptoms will often go undetected. Moreover, some dentists have resisted taking responsibility for testing or asking patients about their potential exposure to HPV because "in most cases, the body's immune system can fight off the virus -- but the test provides an early warning system that allows dentists and doctors to monitor the disease," (Lyden, 2013). A test for HPV costs about $150 per recipient (Lyden, 2013). Dentists who offer the tests are doing their patients a service that could save their lives. However, some dentists are also intimidated by the fact that testing might infringe on their patients' privacy.
HPV is a sexually-transmitted disease, and dentists are not typically in the province of providing sexual health services. At the same time, many health issues manifest in the oral cavity and dentists are entrusted with a responsibility for total patient care. Therefore, there is a responsibility to promote personal and public health regarding HPV. This can be done on an individual basis, by testing each patient. Dentists can also contribute to the improvement of public health by placing posters about HPV prominently in their office waiting rooms and treatment areas. Screening questions should be asked in a private manner, such as in a form to be filled out.

According to the American Dental Association (2013) risk factors for HPV increase with age. Use of tobacco and heavy alcohol consumption are also linked to poor HPV outcomes, meaning dentists do need to become more involved with patients when asking general lifestyle questions. Treating patients from a holistic care model will encourage dentists to recognize the signs and symptoms of HPV before it becomes a cancer.

Patients need not be alarmed, which is why dentists need to provide thorough educational material in….....

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