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Oral sex and gum disease
  1. E W Harville1,
  2. J Zhang2,
  3. M C Hatch2
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, University of Chapel Hill-North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
  2. 2Department of Community Medicine, Mt Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 E Harville
 Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, CB#7435, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7435, USA;

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Moderate gingivitis is present in at least 75% of the population. Although the strongest contributor to oral health is oral hygiene, there is a range of susceptibility caused by immune function and differences in plaque microflora. Pregnancy, oral contraceptive use, smoking, and diabetes are all associated with increased susceptibility to gum disease.1

Oral sex has been associated with oral sores in some populations,2 and can cause ulceration in the oral cavity.3 It may also spread infection from the oral cavity to the genital tract or vice versa, altering oral and genital microflora.4 The purpose of this study was to examine the association between sexual behaviour and self reported gum disease.

From 1999 to 2001, the Feminine Hygiene Study interviewed 411 African-American women seeking routine gynaecological care at two New York hospitals about their hygiene habits and health behaviours. Sexual practices were assessed, including “Within the last 3 months, how often have you …

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