HPV Testing

HPV Testing

Identifying oral cancer risk, screening for cancer, and detecting it early can save lives. For this reason, Dr. Bradley Mott at Kenmore Smiles Family Dentistry takes cancer screening seriously. During every patient’s appointment, Dr. Mott will visually inspect the tissues inside the mouth, looking for abnormalities or possible signs of cancer. He will also palpate each patient’s neck and surrounding tissues, as these are the first places cancers from the mouth can spread.
In addition to this basic cancer screening, Kenmore Smiles Family Dentistry also offers Kenmore patients HPV testing, which helps Dr Mott further evaluate our patient’s underlying risk for oral-pharyngeal cancers.

What Is HPV?

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most prevalent viruses in the United States. A sexually transmitted disease, contraction tends to be observed in individuals as early as their teenage years and becomes more prevalent with age. This virus is not cancer, but it can put individuals at an increased risk of developing cancer over time.
HPV infections of the oral tissues and cavity are the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers, placing an infected person at over 20 TIMES the risk of developing oropharyngeal cancer than those without HPV. Compare this to tobacco use, which increases your risk of oropharyngeal cancer by 3 times, and you can see why we are so concerned about HPV. These cancers affect structures located in the back of the throat such as the tonsils, base of the tongue, and pharynx. Two specific strains of the virus cause the vast majority of HPV related oral-pharyngeal cancers. These strains can be detected through a simple swish and spit test at our office.

What to Expect During an HPV Screening

This simple test allows us to easily detect certain strains of HPV that are directly linked to oral cancer. Unlike a cancer screening, HPV screening tests for the presence of HPV, rather than cancer. At Kenmore Smiles Family Dentistry, screening for oral HPV infections is incredibly simple and can accompany a patient’s regular dental cleaning and checkup appointment.
To collect a sample for screening, Dr. Mott or one of our dental hygienists will have the patient swish and gargle with a mouth rinse for about 30 seconds. This sample will then be collected and sent to a lab to be analyzed.

How an HPV Test Helps Us Care for You

When a patient receives the results of an HPV test, Dr. Mott will adjust their cancer screening protocols accordingly. A positive test result might indicate the need for more frequent cancer screenings.
Since many HPV infections will clear and resolve themselves without any intervention, we might also recommend a schedule of future HPV tests to monitor health. To learn more about oral cancer screening, we welcome you to schedule an appointment in Kenmore.