Miyola Cia Fernandes, BDS, MSc
Good oral health and oral hygiene are often considered to be the fundamental key to having a good quality of life. The oral cavity is not just a home to 32 teeth. It contains more than that. There is the tongue, gums, salivary ducts, taste buds, the mucosa lining the entire cavity, tonsils etc. Apart from these, it also harbours millions of micro-organisms.
Oral health tends to be often overlooked, but it is important to remember that this part of your body can affect your food intake, nutrition, speech, aesthetics, expressions, breathing, voice, sexual health and activity etc.
The concept of safety doesn’t stop at safe sex, it’s also about staying safe from diseases, and maintaining good health which includes oral health.
Here are a few oral diseases/infections related to sexually activity to be careful about:
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs):
The STDs which can be transmitted from the oral cavity are Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Herpes, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), and Trichomoniasis. STDs mainly transmit through the oral cavity during forms of oral sex.
Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia are often asymptomatic and may present as throat sores. Syphilis and Herpes lesions are usually seen on lips, mouth and, throat in the form of painful ulcers. HPV infection can resemble warts on the throat with possibly no other visible symptoms.
2. Herpes ulcers:
There are two main variants of the herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2.
The HSV-1 is transmitted orally (through oral contact) leading to oral herpes infection and possibly genital herpes. It is often asymptomatic but can cause painful ulcers in the oral cavity. This infection lasts lifelong with recurring bouts of symptoms. There are medications available to subside the symptoms such as pain but treatment for the complete elimination is currently unavailable.
The HPV-2 is transmitted through contact with the genital/anal surfaces of someone infected with the virus.
3. Tooth trauma:
A very commonly reported dental problem. Dental trauma reported during sexual activities are: broken tooth, avulsion (tooth popping out of the socket), severe lip bites, mucosal lacerations, gingival or periodontal swellings, cracked teeth, fracture of the facial bones, dislocation of jaw, oedema or inflammation of oral tissues, tongue lacerations etc.
A few of the traumatic injuries can even manifest after a while such as bruises. Cracked teeth aren’t visible to the naked eye and often give severe pain during certain functions such as biting or chewing.
4. Viral diseases:
Apart from the Herpes simplex virus and human papillomavirus, other viral diseases can be transmitted through oral sexual contact. Hepatitis viruses, cytomegalovirus, Kaposi sarcoma-associated human herpesvirus 8, molluscum contagiosum virus, Epstein-Barr virus and Zika virus are a few other viruses.
- Safe sex: practice safe sex, including safe oral sex, it will help to prevent cross transmission of the above listed infections
- Get tested: test yourself regularly for STDs
- Avoid sexual activity in presence of any suspicious lesions: in presence of any newly unexplained ulcers, sores, warts etc, avoid sexual activity. A break in the mucosal lining could end up being a pathway for microorganisms.
- If any suspicious symptoms or lesions or ulcers or warts are present in the oral cavity, consult the dental surgeon or physician immediately
- Report any form of sexual violence and abuse
Credit to Bootup Health