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STDs and Your Oral Health

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Can having a sexually transmitted infection affect your oral health? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases reported each year — and some of these diseases come with symptoms that can affect your mouth. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are contracted through various forms of sexual activity.

Oral sex is a common practice among sexually active adults of all ages and orientations, and it can result in the disease taking hold in the tissues surrounding the contact area. Some infections are more likely to affect the mouth than others.

The most common STDs of the mouth are herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Keep in mind it’s also possible to contract illnesses such as Hepatitis A, B and C, as well as other gastrointestinal infections. While not all STDs are curable, they are treatable. Your dentist is an important part of your healthcare team.

What are the symptoms to look for?

Often, an oral STD doesn’t produce any noticeable symptoms. So, it’s important to be aware of both your own oral health and that of your partner as best you can. Symptoms depend on the type of STD contracted. Symptoms that could indicate an oral STD include:

  • Sores in the mouth, which may be painless.
  • Lesions similar to cold sores and fever blisters around the mouth.
  • Red, painful throat and difficulty swallowing.
  • Tonsillitis.
  • Redness with white spots resembling strep throat.
  • Whitish or yellow discharge.
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