The internet tells everyone not to brush their teeth after oral, so I went to see an expert for the truth
Let’s face it: Sex education in America is tenuous at best, but with access to the entire world online at our fingertips, it’s become increasingly easy to become more educated—that is, if you know what you’re looking for.
Recently, a TikTok user @junahealth released this sex was released by TikTok, informing viewers that it’s perfectly fine to rinse your mouth after oral sex, but advising against brushing or flossing for at least two hours before or after oral sex. The video claims that brushing and flossing will create tiny cuts in your mouth, allowing pathogens like HIV to enter your bloodstream.
Of course, people were shocked:
So I decided to talk to not one, not two, but THREE experts about the validity of this claim. First, I spoke with Rosa Topp, MSN, RN, NPD-BC, and Director of Medical Standards Implementation for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). First of all, she said it was important understand how STDs are transmitted and how best to protect yourself. Typically, STIs are infections that are transmitted through oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Topp said, “The best way to prevent STI transmission is to avoid skin-to-skin contact by using it barrier method such as a condom, dental dam, or latex underwear.”
Topp explained: “Bacteria and/or viruses can live in the sexual fluid or on the surface of the skin or mucosa and may or may not cause symptoms in the infected person. During oral sex, if protective methods such as condoms or dental dams are not used , that infected skin or sexual fluid can pass along with the bacteria or virus to the mouth or throat of the sexual partner, and there an infection can develop — which, again, may or may not cause symptoms.” This means that oral transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is always possible if you do not use protection.
Topp said it’s true that certain factors can increase the risk of contracting an STI during oral sex, such as poor oral health and bleeding gums. But she clarified: “There are no scientific studies which show whether these factors increase the risk of acquiring an STI from oral sex.”
Topp also explained that symptoms can vary depending on the STI, as well as how you were infected. She said: “Each STI and the symptoms that come with it are different. For example, gonorrhea, a common STI, is mainly transmitted through vaginal, anal or oral sex. While oral gonorrhea is less common than genital gonorrhea, it does occur and may present with different symptoms than anal or vaginal gonorrhea.” For example, symptoms of oral gonorrhea may not appear, but if they do, they may appear in the form of an itchy throat.
For more information on HIV, I spoke with Dr. Stacey Rizza, Executive Medical Director, International Practice, Infectious Diseases, Mayo Clinic. She said: “We understand very clearly how HIV is transmitted. And it’s transmitted through sex, whether it’s oral, vaginal or anal, it’s transmitted through other blood or bodily fluids.” She also added, “Every time someone has unprotected sex, whether it’s oral, vaginal, anal, they are at risk of HIV infection if they don’t know their partner’s HIV status, no matter what they do.”
I also spoke with Dr. Zainab Mackie, a general dentist in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. dr. Mackie said that while brushing and flossing could cause microscopic cuts in the mouth, the best way to prevent this is to brush and floss regularly. She explained: “The healthier your gums are, the firmer they are and the less likely they are to bleed.” dr. Mackie also added that when you do this, be gentle. She said, “Any vigorous flossing or brushing will cause cuts.”
dr. Mackie also echoed previous statements by Dr. Rizza and Dr. Topp. She said: “The risk factors are unknown and/or if there was no use of a physical barrier. For example, if you don’t know your partner’s history and overall health status, then it’s best to take those extra precautions.” dr. Mackie also said that to protect yourself from oral STIs, you should see your dentist for regular checkups and said, “It’s also important to see your dentist to make sure there are no sores or sores like a cheek bite.”
CDC reported that more than 85% of sexually active adults between the ages of 18 and 44 reported having had oral sex with a partner of the opposite sex at least once. However, Journal of Adolescent Health reported that less than 10% of the surveyed teenagers and young adults used protection during oral sex.
There is a common misconception that oral transmission of STIs is less common or less serious than those transmitted vaginally or anally. dr. Topp said: “Because there is no risk of pregnancy, there are many people who skip safe sex practices like condoms during oral sex. When it comes to HIV, oral sex is much safer rather than vaginal or anal sex, but also other infections such as gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, HPV, chlamydia and hepatitis B it can still spread during oral sex.” So while you reduce your risk of HIV during oral sex, you’re still exposing yourself to other infections.
dr. Rizza concluded that one of the best ways to make sure you don’t put yourself or your partner at risk of transmitting an STI or HIV get tested regularly. She said: “We recommend that you both (you and your partner) get tested together for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and show each other the results.” dr. Rizza said that if you and your partner are in a monogamous relationship and you both test negative, then it would be reasonable to stop using condoms, if you choose to do so.
dr. Topp echoed this point and said testing is also key, since STDs don’t always manifest physically, so you may not know you have it. She said: “Many people with STDs have no symptoms, but can still spread the infection to others. Knowing your status can protect you and your partner.”
dr. Topp also added that open communication between you and your partner about your status is not only important for your sex life, but also for your relationship. She said, “Knowing your STI status can help you and your partner(s) feel more relaxed, which can strengthen your relationship and improve intimacy in your intimate and sexual experiences.”
Sex education is often considered taboo, and many curricula do not offer enough information, to the detriment of those involved. dr. Rizza said, “Especially as an infectious disease doctor and an HIV provider, I strongly recommend safe sex conversations in education. I think that’s what we need to do to prevent transmission and ultimately end the pandemic.” dr. Topp added that, especially when talking about the transmission of STIs during sex, there can be additional embarrassment or shame, which can prevent people from properly educating themselves and even getting tested.
The latest CDC analysis reported that 1 in 5 people in the US has an STI. Despite this, there is an unnecessary stigma attached to testing. dr. Topp said, “Stigma around STDs is harmful to everyone, whether you have an STD or not. Stigma doesn’t prevent STDs—in fact, it does the opposite. Stigma makes it hard to do things we know can actually prevent STIs: get tested yourself, use protection during sex, and talk openly with partners about your STI status and testing. Being more honest and less judgmental about STIs is one of the best ways we can help keep ourselves and the people we know healthy.”
She also added that sex education is key and said: “Sex education is incredibly important in fighting the stigma around STDs. Sex education gives people age-appropriate, medically accurate information and answers to their questions about sex and relationships, without shames or condemns. It has been proven to have a positive impact on young people’s lives.”
I spoke with Peter Ariano, the presenter June Health, a company that offers mail-in STD testing that posted a TikTok video, said the inspiration for the company was to offer the opportunity to get tested. “I felt like being able to provide at-home testing was really a step forward for a demographic that really doesn’t get tested proactively.”
Peter also added that Juna was founded to provide accessible testing to those who may not have access to it nearby. He said, “I was surprised to see the number of people who came forward and said, basically, like me, we have people who live in, say, Fort Worth, Texas, and they’re just not comfortable going to the lab… There’s that kind of access barrier, where a lot of people just don’t feel comfortable seeing them go to a lab and get tested, or there’s not a lot (of access to testing), and they have one clinic in that area.”
Finally, it is important to take precautions against sexually transmitted diseases during any sexual contact and to get tested whenever necessary. For more information on sexually transmitted diseases, click here.
#internet #tells #brush #teeth #oral #expert #truth