The mouth or oral cavity is one of the most important areas of the body and in fact a primary sex organ. The mouth is warm, moist and slippery. It has a movable muscle in the centre, the tongue which is capable of extensive mobility, feeling and taste. It is in close proximity to the eyes for sight, the nose for smell and the ears for hearing. All the senses are intensified in this region, which is very close to the brain.
Kissing and oral sex has been enjoyed throughout the existence of humans. Ancient depictions of erotica can be seen in Pompeii. All human sexual liaisons and interactions can be enhanced with the sensual use of the mouth and tongue.
The mouth is integral to survival.
Nutrition, swallowing, mastication, respiration, nurture, comfort, and the sense of taste and feel are functions of the mouth.
Because of this the brain sees the head and neck as 90% of the body.
As you can see the mouth is a very important structure. For example, even though a baby may survive without sufficient sucking as an infant, psychological problems can arise and the infant will not develop normally. The brain will be smaller.
Description of mouth flora
The mouth is an ideal incubator for germs. These include over 400 different kinds of bacteria not to mention viruses, fungi and other pathogens which normally live in the mouth. They live on the food debris, plaque and dead cells in the oral cavity. They are kept warm and moist and supplied with oxygen (for the aerobes) in some cases and no oxygen (for the anaerobes) in deeper pockets of the gums. There is a whole ecosystem living and breeding there. If you have ever been bitten by a human bite it is one of the worst infections you can get! That is why it is important to maintain your oral hygiene to remove this material and germs by brushing and flossing your teeth, gums and tongue every day.
Diseases associated with the mouth
Most infectious diseases have oral symptoms. These may be the first symptoms to occur but they are usually ignored.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among the most common infections in the world. According to the US Centre for Disease Control an estimated 19 million new cases of STD’s are reported each year in the US.
If you or your partner has any type of sore or rash in or around the mouth, then you should refrain from having oral sex or use a condom, otherwise the transmission of infectious disease may occur.
Some of these diseases are:
1) Herpes or Cold Sores
This may look like a harmless sore on the mouth, lips or nose but it is probably HSV-1 which is known as oral herpes. This virus can be transmitted through kissing and sexually to the genitalia. There is no real difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2 which is known as genital herpes. They both reside in each place.
2) HPV or Human Papillomavirus
This is another virus that is spread sexually, through oral sex and kissing as well. It causes cervical cancer in women. The lesions look like innocuous warts. Please be careful before having unprotected sex or kissing as your future could depend on it.
The same virus is now thought to be one of the causes of throat cancer and is transmitted through oral sex. Research from John Hopkins has found that people with high numbers of sexual partners increased their risk for the HPV-16 strain of the virus by 750%. Over 70% of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV Types 16 and 18.
3) Throat or Oral Cancer
This includes all cancers of the mouth, sinuses and throat.
One of the best things that your dentist can do for you is an oral cancer screen for oral cancer.
It can affect anyone especially people over 40.
Smoking increases your risk.
Throat cancer has a higher death rate than melanoma or cervical cancer. Over 25% of people with the disease will die of it. Recently there has been a five-fold increase in the incidence of oral cancer in individuals under 40. Research from John Hopkins found that patients with one to five oral sex partners doubled their risk for throat cancer and those with more than five partners increased their risk by 250%.
This is higher than if you smoke!
Early detection and diagnosis can make a tremendous difference in life expectancy since oral cancer is 90% curable when found early. Unfortunately 70% of oral cancers are diagnosed in the late stages leading to a five year survival rate of 57%
If you have had multiple partners consider being tested for HPV and throat cancer. If it is found early it can be treated successfully.
4) HIV, AIDS Hepatitis B and C
These diseases can be spread orally and can be prevented. There has been one documented case of transmission of HIV from a child to his sibling via the shared use of a toothbrush.
The Centres for Disease Control in the US (CDC) recommends that you not engage in sexual activities with partners who exhibit signs of STDs; including mouth or genital rashes, sores (even colds sores) or discharge. If you do decide to have sex with a partner exhibiting any of these symptoms, please use a condom- even during oral sex.
If you have any type of persistent lesion, white or red patches or spots in your mouth visit your dentist immediately. If you notice any of these things in your partner’s mouth refrain from kissing and oral sex until they see a dentist to have it diagnosed.
Other Oral Activities that can affect your sex life:
1) Smoking Pot or Marijuana
Smoking pot can enhance sexual pleasure. These drugs can alter how you sense and perceive sexual stimuli in ways that enhance sex. In a study 75% of men said that marijuana in low doses increased sexual pleasure and satisfaction while in another study 90% of women reported that marijuana in low doses increased feelings of sexual pleasure and satisfaction to varying degrees.
Smoking pot and normal cigarettes on a regular basis increases your risk of periodontal (gum) disease and thus tooth loss. This was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association 2008. This gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gums and has been linked to cardiac disease in men.
2) Recreational drug such as Ecstasy and Cocaine
Drugs such as these are being used more frequently to enhance sexual performance. I have recognised a significant increase in tooth destruction through enamel wear associated with this practice. Thousands of dollars of are needed to repair this damaged or missing enamel which is usually widespread throughout the mouth
3) Bad breath can ruin you sex life
Halitosis or bad breath will kill any romance!
Some of the causes of bad breath are:
• Eating onions
• Eating garlic
• Drinking coffee
• Smoking cigarettes
• Taking some medications
• Specific bacteria (that produce sulphur compounds) in the sinuses or gut
• Periodontal disease (gum disease)
• Not eating for a long time e.g. first thing in the morning.
Chronic bad breath can indicate the following:
• Periodontal disease
• Respiratory tract infections
• Chronic sinus infections
• Chronic acid reflux
• Liver and kidney problems.
Don’t ignore your bad breath or try to cover it up with mouthwashes or chewing gum without seeing a professional for advice. Chronic bad breath is a serious health issue.
If it persists it can be embarrassing and it can make you feel self-conscious especially when it comes to sex. Worrying about your partner smelling and tasting your bad breath will take the joy and spontaneity out of your sex life.
The worst thing is not knowing you have it!
Your dentist is the first person to call for help.
They can diagnose the problem and get the right treatment for it.
4) Oral Health-Hygiene
A healthy mouth not only improves your sex life by giving you self confidence and improving your self esteem it also is good for the health of your whole body. There has been a link established through research that periodontal disease causes heart disease, ignites diabetes and causes serious pregnancy complications like miscarriages, premature births and low birth-weight babies.
It is imperative that you make sure your mouth is in optimal health. As a dentist the one thing I say to my patients is that oral hygiene is the only thing I do, that is NOT optional, all other treatment in dentistry is.
Visit your dentist and establish a healthy mouth by getting rid of decay, abscesses and gum disease, eliminate all infection. When you have a clean bill of health for your mouth you must maintain it by seeing a dentist/hygienist regularly and brushing and flossing every day. If you maintain your teeth you will live longer. World Health Organisation reports 9.8years longer life with a healthy complete dentition.
5) Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD)
This relates to the jaw joint and the surrounding muscles. Disorders of this area can cause pain including headaches, neck and shoulder pain and other symptoms. TMD problems can make it difficult to eat, swallow, yawn and engage in sexual activity when they flare up. This is because it hurts to open your mouth wide or put it through any vigorous activity such as passionate kissing or oral sex. Your dentist would advise to rest your jaw.
6) Abusive relationships
People who are abused often get hit in the face or mouth which can damage teeth. This can lead to low self esteem and needs to be fixed as soon as possible but the first thing to do is realise that you don’t deserve to be beaten, so get help.
I have also had patients with a history of sexual abuse who cannot open their mouths very much and they can have a very strong gag reflex making working in their mouth very difficult. I use intravenous sedation to relax them and allow for a stress free visit to the dentist. In time with trust they can and do overcome these symptoms.
7) Dental Implants- improve your sex life by getting rid of dentures
Dentures move around in your mouth, they slip out and they smell no matter how hard you try to clean them. This is because the acrylic they are made of absorbs water and with it bacteria.
A study was conducted in Canada which showed that implants dramatically improved one’s sex life. The study compared conventional dentures to “overdentures” these are dentures stabilised by dental implants. They looked at the looseness of dentures when performing specific activities, including kissing and sexual activities and the impact of the stable “overdentures” on these activities, comparing both in the same subject for two months. The results showed that denture instability affects social and intimate activities. When wearing “overdentures” i.e. fixed by dental implants, there is less anxiety with regard to kissing and sexual activities.
Dental implants are titanium posts that are inserted into the jaw. They fuse to the bone and become fixed. They can be used to have either fixed teeth attached like crown or bridges used in conventional dentistry or removable dentures can clip in and out of them (overdentures).
Implants feel more like your own teeth and the take away the uneasy feeling that your dentures that might slip out. They also don’t have the odour associated with acrylic if combined with crown and bridgework.
Healthy mouth= healthy body=healthy sex life.
Never be afraid to discuss problems with your dentist. If you feel embarrassed consider finding a dentist you can talk to.
Don’t let problems affect you sex life.
Whether you have a sore, bad breath or loose dentures don’t be afraid to look for treatment and answers. A good dentist will ask you about your life, your symptoms and how they affect everyday activities like your sex life. Dentists should be treating the whole person not just the teeth.
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