A Review of Oral Cancer Risk Factors | Best Dentist San Diego CA


An early diagnosis of oral cancer can increase the probability of successful treatment. Most oral cancers can be successfully treated when caught early. Our dental team is trained to detect oral cancer at the earliest stages.

People of all ages are susceptible to the disease, but certain groups of people are at a higher risk than others. Here are the top seven risk factors for oral cancer:


Are you in your forties? As you age, you’re more likely to develop oral cancer. Those over the age of 40 seem to be the most at risk. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America reports that the majority of diagnosed cases occur around the age of 62, but the average age is declining. Human papillomavirus (HPV) related cases are increasing the number of people diagnosed with oral cancer between the ages of 52 and 56. As the average age for oral cancer cases decreases, it is important to receive regular screenings for oral cancer at any age.


Men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as women. This may be associated with regular consumption of alcohol and tobacco. The American Cancer Society reports that the gender gap is decreasing since more women use alcohol and tobacco than in previous generations. In recent years, younger men have also been diagnosed with HPV-related oral cancer. Oral health examinations are essential for both men and women to detect oral cancer early.


You can greatly increase your risk of developing oral cancer by smoking or chewing tobacco. Tobacco can cause oral and throat cancer. In addition, oral tobacco products can cause cancers of the lips, cheeks, and gums. These cancers are related to the duration and frequency of tobacco use. Non-smokers are not immune to oral cancer, so everyone needs to have an oral cancer screening. 


Around 70% of people diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers. Heavy drinking is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as having two or more drinks per day for men and one or more drinks per day for women. Heavy drinkers are more than twice as likely to develop oral cancer as non-drinkers. Even people who have never consumed alcohol can develop oral cancer. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

At least 10,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States as a result of this sexually transmitted disease. Most HPV-related oral cancer patients are younger and do not smoke or drink. In general, people diagnosed with HPV-related oral cancers have a much lower risk of death or recurrence. We recommend maintaining regular visits to our dental office.


The risk of developing lip cancer is higher for people who work outside or are exposed to prolonged sunlight. It is essential to use UV protection when outdoors. Lip balms often contain UV protection. We recommend scheduling an additional examination if you work outdoors frequently.


You are more likely to develop oral cancer if you have poor nutrition. According to the American Dental Association, diets low in fruits and vegetables are associated with a higher risk of oral cancer. Healthy individuals can also develop oral cancer. Get a comprehensive oral examination from our team regardless of your diet.

There is no discrimination when it comes to oral cancer. While these seven factors have been linked to an increased risk of oral cancer, they do not negate the importance of regular oral examinations regardless of age, gender, or other factors. Our team can detect oral cancer earlier when regular dental examinations are performed. Please contact us to schedule a comprehensive oral examination.

Paul Taylor, DMD- Advanced Dentistry
Phone: (858) 496-7521
4320 Genesee Ave., Suite 101
San Diego , CA 92117