Sexually transmitted diseases – often known as STIs – are commonly associated with sexual intercourse.
However, diseases such as human papilloma virus (HPV) and chlamydia can also be passed on via oral sex too.
Indeed, 35 per cent of all throat cancers are HPV related, according to the NHS.
This can lead to cells in the throat being attacked, potentially causing cancer.
The most effective way to make oral sex safer is by using a condom on a man’s penis, or a dam – a square of very thin, soft plastic – across a woman’s genitals.
But brushing your teeth well could help.
“Maintaining good oral health can prevent HPV infection and subsequent HPV cancers,” said Dr Trang Bui, from The University of Texas Health Centre.
“While more research is needed to confirm the relationship between oral health and HPV, everyone should take care of their teeth and gums for a variety of other health benefits.”
It has been claimed that using a toothpaste containing charcoal could make this even more effective.
James Buchanon, Product Development Manager at White Glo, said: “During oral sex, bacteria can spread to the mouth. Charcoal, by its natural properties, binds and absorbs to bacteria, which is why it is particularly useful following oral sex.”
Research has shown that activated charcoal can reduce bacteria by up to 90 per cent.
A study published in The Western Journal of Medicine concluded that: “activated charcoal will absorb most toxins”.
Additionally, researchers at the University of Michigan found similar benefits, stating: “activated charcoal can chemically attach, or absorb, to a variety of particles and gases, which makes it ideal for removing potentially toxic substances.”
However, Katie Edmunds from Cancer Research UK said: “HPV is linked to some types of mouth and throat cancer, but there’s no clear link between oral hygiene and HPV infection.
“So while keeping up your routine of brushing is important to keep your teeth and gums in good health, the best ways to reduce your risk of mouth and throat cancer are being smoke free, cutting down on alcohol, and getting plenty of fruit and veg.”
Charcoal has become a popular nutritional and beauty ingredient in recent years.
As well as charcoal lattes and face masks, activated charcoal is also used to whiten teeth by trapping particles and drawing out stains.
According to the NHS, the types of HPV in the mouth are almost entirely sexually transmitted, meaning it’s likely that oral sex is the primary route of getting them.
HPV does not directly give you cancer, but it triggers changes in the cells it has infected causing them to become cancerous.
Very few people with HPV develop cancer since in 90 per cent of cases the infection clears up on its own after two years.
Symptoms of oral cancer include red or white patches on your tongue or the lining of your mouth, mouth ulcers, swelling in your mouth and pain when swallowing.
Other risk factors for oral cancer – including throat cancer – are drinking alcohol and smoking or chewing tobacco.