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17 March 2023

Perceptions about human papillomavirus vaccine and oropharyngeal cancers, and the role of dental care providers

The authors examined adults’ perceptions about the importance of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in preventing oropharyngeal cancers and dental care providers’ role in HPV prevention and identified associated factors.


Adults 18 years old or older completed a national survey of consumer and patient attitudes, experiences, and behaviors on oral health. Descriptive and multivariable logistic regression models determined associations between perceptions regarding HPV and attitudes toward dental care providers’ role and HPV knowledge, HPV vaccine recommendation, and sociodemographic characteristics.


One in 3 adults (32.8%; n = 5,320) said the HPV vaccine was very important, 1 in 2 said it was somewhat important (48.1%), and 1 in 5 said it was not important (19.1%) in preventing mouth and throat cancers. More than one-half (56.7%) of adults had positive perceptions about dental care providers’ role in HPV education and were comfortable discussing the HPV vaccine with a dental care provider (59.4%). Adults with knowledge about HPV and oral health linkage and those who received HPV vaccine recommendation from a dental care provider had 2.0 to 2.5 times higher odds of reporting positively for all three outcomes (P < .001).


Most adults are comfortable discussing HPV and the HPV vaccine with their oral health care provider. Perceptions about the HPV vaccine’s importance in preventing oropharyngeal cancers and the role of dental care providers in HPV prevention can be improved by means of increasing adults’ knowledge about the relationship between HPV and oral health.

Practical implications

Dental care providers’ engagement in HPV conversations with patients may increase their knowledge about the HPV and oral health linkage and their understanding of the role of the HPV vaccine in preventing oropharyngeal cancers.

Shillpa Naavaal, Christina A. Demopoulos, Abigail Kelly, Eric Tranby and Julie Frantsve-Hawley. "Perceptions about human papillomavirus vaccine and oropharyngeal cancers, and the role of dental care providers in human papillomavirus prevention among US adults." JADA. February 06, 2023. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adaj.2022.12.006

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