Dental providers, such as dentists and dental hygienists, play an important role in HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer prevention. Dental professional organizations recommend dental providers educate patients about HPV and oral cancers. The objective of this study was to assess HPV knowledge among dental providers. Dentists (n = 36) and dental hygienists (n = 146) attending a professional conference completed a continuing education post-test survey, which included socio-demographics, an HPV knowledge scale, and measure of HPV discussion with patients ("no," "yes," and "yes, but only with some patients"). Chi-square tests, t tests, and ANOVA tests were used for this analysis. Although dental hygienists (35.4%) reported less discussion with patients about HPV than dentists (52.8%), these differences were not significant. The mean knowledge score was 24.7 (SD = 3.8) with no significant differences by profession. Among dentists, knowledge did not significantly differ by discussion category (p = 0.28). In contrast, dental hygienists who did not discuss HPV with patients had significantly lower mean knowledge scores (mean = 23.4) than those who discussed with patients (mean = 26.5, p < 0.01) or discussed only with some patients (mean = 26.0, p = 0.01). Knowledge deficits included outcomes associated with HPV, HPV in men, and curability. Specifically, participants incorrectly answered that HPV can affect a women's ability to get pregnant (81.9%), that one can never get rid of HPV once they have it (69.2%), and that HPV can cause herpes (43.4%). This study identified HPV knowledge deficits among dental providers. Given the recommendation for dental providers to discuss HPV prevention with their patients, additional education and training on this emerging topic may benefit these professionals.
Keywords: Dental providers; HPV; Knowledge.