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...
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