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Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

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Risk factors for oral cancerThere are several risk factors associated with oral cancer, including alcohol and tobacco use, gender, and excessive exposure to sunlight. Although some risk factors for oral cancer can’t be modified by lifestyle or personal choices, many risk factors can be changed based on the person’s actions. Decreasing or eliminating tobacco use, for instance, may help reduce the risk for oral cancer as well as other serious cancers. In this blog post Atlanta Smiles & Wellness, a family and cosmetic dental practice in Atlanta, discusses the risk factors and what you can do to decrease your risk of oral cancer.


Approximately 80 percent of patients diagnosed with oropharyngeal and oral cavity cancer are regular consumers of chewing tobacco, snuff, or cigarettes. The frequency and duration of tobacco use are two of the biggest factors that play into oral cancer risk. Overall, smoking can lead to cancer of the throat or mouth, whereas oral tobacco is commonly associated with cancer in the gums, cheeks, and lips.

Alcohol Use

In addition to tobacco, approximately 70 percent of oral cancer cases are reported in patients who are regular consumers of alcohol. If alcohol and tobacco are consumed at the same time, this risk is even higher.

Overexposure to Ultraviolet (UV) light

Although beneficial in small amounts, UV light overexposure has been implicated in several different types of cancer. People who work outdoors and experience long days of sun exposure are at higher risk for lip cancer.


Men are twice as likely to suffer from oral cancer and oropharyngeal cancer as women, possibly due to the fact that men are more likely to use alcohol and tobacco. As societal opinions and practices shift and more women use these substances on a regular basis, the gender difference may decrease.

Prevention is Key at Atlanta Smiles & Wellness

Our highly skilled team of dental professionals at Atlanta Smiles & Wellness is committed to helping our patients understand their risks for oral health issues. We work toward providing a comprehensive plan of action to reduce risk and prevent disease, particularly those diseases related to your teeth and gums.

Our comprehensive dental care starts with regular dental checkups. During your dental checkup, our team will conduct a quick and easy oral cancer screening, which involves examining your face, head, neck, mouth and jaw for any changes and possible symptoms. In addition, we use fluorescence technology (435–460 nm) that provides us with a visualization of oral cancer, pre-cancer and other abnormal lesions. If an abnormality is detected, our team will take a small biopsy for clinical diagnosis.

If you would like to learn more about our preventative strategies, oral cancer screenings and our other oral health services, give us a call at (404) 262-7733 today to schedule an appointment.