I know there are a lot of people that probably frequent these boards concerned about oral hpv. When discussing the issue, most will respond to questions and concerns by citing how extremely rare and uncommon oral hpv is and that people shouldn't really worry about it or otherwise alter their behavior because of those reasons.
This post really isn't meant to scare anyone but I felt obligated to post this so people are aware that it DOES happen. If you (and more than likely your partner) are hpv positive and engage in oral sex or if you're worried you may have oral hpv, please read my "story."
A few months ago, I noticed what looked like a skin tag underneath my tongue. Since it didn't hurt, was the same color as the rest of my tongue, and since I tend to get skin tags and lipomas all over my body anyway, I wrote it off as "just another lump" and forgot about it. A few weeks ago while driving home from a meeting, it hit the back of my teeth. It didn't hurt, it simply reminded me it was there. Unfortunately, this time I wasn't so inclined to write it off as "just another lump." I spent a significant amount of time scouring the internet but couldn't really find any pictures that resembled what I had hanging off my tongue. What I did find,(among other things) were several articles about oral hpv. I immediately made an appointment to see my dentist who reassured me it was nothing to worry about but gave me the option of removing it. I enthusiastically accepted his offer. A week later, it was removed quickly and painlessly. A week after that, I received the biopsy results which identified the growth as a "squamous papilloma." My dentist stopped short of saying it was definitely caused by the hpv virus, claiming that occasionally these things are caused by other infections and irritations, though a quick google search reveals that nearly all squamous papillomas are caused by hpv 6 or 11.
Truth be told, NO - I am not 100% sure the growth was caused by hpv BUT the chances of it being caused by something else are very, very, very small.
Here's why I'm concerned about the nonchalant, "it happens so rarely I wouldn't worry about it" attitude I've seen on several hpv message boards:
I am married. I have been in a loving, monogamous relationship with my wife for almost a decade. Despite being a bit overweight, I'm healthy and have a decent immune system. To the best of our knowledge, neither my wife nor I have ever had visible genital warts. To take that one step further, neither of us had any inkling that we had any form of hpv at all.
While we have an active sex life, oral sex does not play a big role. To be quite frank, I can say with 100% certainty that I have performed oral sex on my wife exactly two times in the past year... and it wasn't like I spent hours "downtown" during those rare occasions...
Why am I telling a bunch of strangers this, you ask?
Because despite our lack of visual genital symptoms, despite our health and despite the fact that oral sex is almost non-existent in our bedroom, it appears I've ended up with this supposedly "extremely rare", "difficult to catch" infection in my mouth. It's not my intention to scare anyone, but if someone in my shoes can contract oral HPV, anyone can.
The more I read about the subject (and hpv in general), the more I tend to think that the number of reported oral HPV infections are grossly underestimated. If testing became available, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest to read that oral HPV is almost as common as genital HPV. After all, I would assume that much like genital hpv, many folks who are infected are asymptomatic.
I highly suggest that if you have concerns, you see a dentist sooner rather than later. If nothing else, it'll put your mind at ease. After all, if you're reading this, you're probably freaking out quite a bit.