HPV, oral health and you

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January 4th, 2019

Did you know that there is now a vaccine that can prevent certain types of cancer?

This is an exciting time as today’s generation of children, teenagers and young adults may be the first to benefit from the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination as cancer prevention.

HPV infection is very common, and many people spread the virus without knowing it, because they have no symptoms. In fact, 4 out of 5 people will be infected with HPV in their lifetime.

HPV-associated cancers include cervical, head and neck, as well as other cancers. In fact, the rates of head and neck cancer are rising so quickly in the United States that it is now the most common cancer caused by HPV.

But you can protect yourself, and your children. The HPV vaccine is estimated to prevent 90% of the cancers caused by HPV infection. The vaccine has been available in the US since 2006, has been studied extensively, and has been shown to be safe.

The most common side effects of the HPV vaccine are redness and soreness at the injection site. It is also recommended that pre-teens and teens remain seated for 15 minutes after the vaccine to prevent fainting. The vaccine is recommended at age 11-12 for both boys and girls, but can be given as young as age 9. Studies show HPV vaccine works best if the series is completed by age 13. Healthy children under age 15 who begin the vaccinations will need two doses, and those who begin at 15 or older will need three.

Recently, the FDA approved HPV vaccination through age 45, as researchers found cancer prevention benefits to older adults who were vaccinated.

To learn more about HPV prevention and vaccination, talk with your medical provider and visit the CDC website.