STD of The Mouth: 7 Oral Health Facts

There’s an unfortunate misconception that STDs only occur below the belt. Even worse, some people still believe that oral sex is a safe way to avoid getting an STD. The truth is though, you can get an STD of the mouth a lot easier than you might suspect. Indeed, just because you abstain from vaginal or anal sex, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be STD-free. Rather, some STDs are plenty comfortable inhabiting your oral regions and can cause big problems if you ignore them. So in order to clear up the confusion and bust some myths around mouth-bound STDs, here are seven oral health facts every sexually active person should know:

Oral Sex is Common

Most sexually active people will have oral sex by the time they’re 24. According to a survey conducted by the CDC, roughly two-thirds of people between the ages of 15-24 have engaged in oral sex. Interestingly, most didn’t engage in oral sex during their first sexual encounter.

STDs Typically Don’t Travel Through Saliva

Unlike blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or breast milk, saliva isn’t usually an ideal conduit for STD transmission. As such, it’s difficult (though not impossible) to spread most STDs through your spit.

You CAN Get an STD from Kissing

The best example of this is the HSV-1 viral strain, better known as oral herpes. Herpes is particularly troublesome because it can spread through skin-to-skin contact and doesn’t rely on the typical fluid-based transmission as other STDs do. Also, even if you don’t exhibit any outward signs or symptoms of herpes (like cold sores) at the time of kissing, you can still spread the disease to your partner. Additionally, a person with oral herpes can give their partner genital herpes through oral sex.

Condoms Reduce STD Risks –– But Don’t Prevent Them Completely

Even if you use a condom during oral sex, you can still transmit/contract an STD during the act. However, proper condom usage will significantly lower the risk of infection.

Oral Sex isn’t “Safer” than Any Other Sex

What’s known about oral sex is that –– specifically in regard to HIV transmission –– it carries a lower risk of transmission than either anal or vaginal. (Again, lower. It is possible to get/spread HIV through oral sex.) The problem with gauging the safety of oral sex is that there simply isn’t enough data on it. People who engage in oral sex typically also engage in other sex acts –– thus isolating the risk associated with purely oral sex is extremely difficult for researchers.

Lots of STDs Can Exist in Your Mouth

To be brief, you can get all of the following STDs in your mouth or throat: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HIV, HPV, and trichomoniasis.

Complications Regarding Oral STDs

One major risk factor regarding oral STDs are the sores and lesions that usually accompany them. Engaging in sexual acts with open sores in your mouth, throat, or on your lips greatly increases the odds of further STD transmission. Furthermore, even though the symptoms of oral STDs are typically minimal at first, if left untreated they can cause a cornucopia of problems –– and not just in your mouth. However, even if symptoms do remain in the oral region, certain strains of throat-based gonorrhea have proved particularly tricky to treat.

STDs acquired through oral sex and that exhibit symptoms in or around the mouth are in no way safer than any “other” STD.


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