Skip to main content
Toggle Menu of ADA WebSites
ADA Websites
Toggle Search Area
Toggle Menu
e-mail Print Share

ADA adopts policy supporting HPV vaccine

October 22, 2018

By Michelle Manchir

Honolulu — The ADA urges dentists to support the use and administration of the human papillomavirus virus vaccine, recognizing it as a way to help prevent infection of the types of HPV associated with oropharyngeal cancer, according to a resolution the ADA House of Delegates passed Oct. 22 at ADA 2018 – America’s Dental Meeting.

Res. 53H-2018, citing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, states that the vaccination is a “safe and effective intervention to decrease the burden of oral and oropharyngeal HPV infection.” The policy also encourages outside agencies to support research to improve the understanding of the natural history of the oral HPV infection, transmission risks, screening and testing.

The policy is the result of a multi-ADA council proposal that included input from the Council on Scientific Affairs, the Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention and the Council on Dental Practice. An HPV workgroup led by ADA volunteer members developed an evidence-based background report to help write the policy.

Dr. Paul Eleazer, immediate past chair of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, said following the vote that he is glad to see the ADA “get behind this rising crisis,” referring to the rising number of HPV-associated cancers.

According to the CDC, about 3,400 new cases of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers are diagnosed in women and about 14,800 are diagnosed in men each year in the United States.

“There is incontrovertible evidence that this virus is responsible for the sharp uptick in oropharyngeal cancers, especially in younger patients and young adults,” said Dr. Eleazer.

He said he hopes the resolution will help encourage research groups such as the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to direct resources toward research on the diagnosis and treatment of oral HPV. Dr. Eleazer also said efforts need to be made to educate dentists about spotting signs of oral and oropharyngeal cancers early when possible and referring patients exhibiting signs to a specialist, since early diagnoses are essential in the success of treating oral cancers.

In 2017, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs and Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry published “Evidence-based Clinical Practice Guideline for the Evaluation of Potentially Malignant Disorders in the Oral Cavity” to inform clinicians about the potential use of adjuncts as triage tools for the evaluation of lesions, including potentially malignant disorders, in the oral cavity. To view this guideline, visit

To read the full resolution related to the HPV vaccine, members can log in to the Member Center on and click on “Committee C—Dental Education, Science and Related Matters” under Reports and Resolutions. It is Resolution 53.