A lot more attention has been focused on the human papilloma virus (HPV) since the introduction of the HPV vaccine. Now that there is a way to prevent this common infection, which has been linked to oral cancer as well as other cancers, people are promoting both the prevention methods and the risks of infection.

For many older Americans, the HPV vaccine doesn’t make sense as a prevention method, unless they’re immunocompromised, but understanding other risk factors can help you avoid HPV infection as you get older. One possible risk factor is dentures, but we’re not sure the extent to which dentures cause HPV, although there may be ways to reduce this risk.

Human papillomaviruses

People with Dentures Are More Likely to Have HPV

One thing that seems pretty well established is that people with dentures are more likely to have HPV infection. A 2004 study found the rate of HPV infection among denture wearers is 51%. That’s much higher than the overall HPV infection rate of 6.9%, but the raw values don’t necessarily reflect the true risk because denture wearers tend to be older.

However, more recent studies have accounted for these other factors and show that people with dentures are about 3.2 times more likely to have HPV.

Do Dentures Cause HPV Infection?

Mere association isn’t enough to say that dentures actually cause HPV infection. We have to take other things into account. For example, people who have dentures are more likely to be tobacco users. And tobacco use is also associated with increased risk of HPV infections.

There hasn’t been enough study to directly show that dentures cause HPV infection, but there are several mechanisms by which dentures could cause HPV infection. The most likely link is that dentures–especially poorly made and poorly fitting dentures–cause tiny injuries to the gum tissue. These injuries allow HPV to penetrate and infect gum tissue. Poor denture care is also a possible factor in infection.

Should You Be Worried?

We do know that HPV infection is linked to oral cancer. This could be the reason why poorly fitting dentures are linked to higher risk of oral cancer.

Most of the HPV linked to denture wear is of harmless strains, but some of them have been linked to oral cancer risk, so the association is possible.

What Can You Do?

Let’s take a look at the two proposed links between dentures and HPV infection to find out what you can do to reduce your risk. First, hygiene. Make sure you’re following all hygiene guidelines for your dentures and you’ll reduce your risk of all infections, including HPV.

And then there’s the issue of tiny gum injuries sustained as a result of wearing dentures. With better-fitting dentures, your gums are less likely to be injured. Get high-quality dentures that fit properly, such as FOY® Dentures, to reduce gum injuries. You can do even better, though, and invest in dentures that don’t rest on your gums at all, like implant dentures.

If you want to learn more about getting dentures that maintain and protect your overall health, please contact a local FOY® Dentures dentist today.