Studies have shown a link between the rise of Oral Dysplasia and Oral Cancer in America and connected it with increased alcohol consumption during the 2020 pandemic. Many studies have been done regarding the stress and effects of lockdowns and dealing with a pandemic. Almost every part of the country saw higher rates of alcohol sales during the pandemic, as well. A study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows the increased rates of alcohol sales throughout the pandemic. One study cites discusses the link between “psychological distress to drinking behaviors.” In this article, we will discuss the findings of a study connecting the increase in alcohol consumption with oral Dysplasia and Oral Cancer.

What is Oral Dysplasia?

Oral Dysplasia is a precancerous lesion in the lining of the oral cavity. The lesion could form on the inner cheek, tongue, gums, roof of the mouth, or floor of the mouth. Those with severe oral dysplasia have a high risk of developing oral cancer. Tobacco use and alcohol consumption are often linked to the formation of Dysplasias in the mouth. However, as studies show that smoking and tobacco use were lessened during the pandemic, the increase in alcohol consumption is a likely cause of this increase in Dysplasias.
Generally, treatment first includes a biopsy to determine the severity of the lesion. For moderate to severe growths, removal is often the best practice. This will generally include surgical removal with a scalpel or laser.

Oral Cancer Dangers

Oral cancer is the 6th most common form of cancer, worldwide. In most racial or ethnic groups, the rate of oral cancer is roughly 3 times higher in men, according to this study. According to the WHO’s cancer studies, there are about 657,000 new oral cancer cases yearly, and about 300,000 oral cancer-related deaths. The 5-year survivability rate for oral cancer in America is only about 68%.

Oral Dysplasia & Increased Alcohol Consumption While in Lockdown

For many in lockdown, alcohol provided escapism or stress reduction. However, increased alcohol consumption can contribute to Dysplasia and oral cancer growth. Couple that with fewer trips to the dentist during the pandemic, and you have a recipe for disaster. Often, your dentist can find precancerous oral growths before they become more serious. However, many people avoided going out unless it was deemed necessary. Furthermore, some people avoided going to places such as doctor’s offices to limit potential contact with sick individuals. In some areas, the screening rate for dysplastic growths went from 17.6% in 2018 to 47% in 2021.

Taking a More Active Role in Oral Care

The pandemic has had a major impact on the overall health and wellness of people all over the world, in more ways than one. Because of this, it is important that both patients and their healthcare specialists take a more attentive approach to care. Be sure to visit your dentist regularly, and practice proper oral care at home. This includes flossing daily and brushing twice a day. Overall, good oral health is something that both you and your dentist work together on. A Center of Dental Excellence is here to help you and your family with all of your oral care needs.

A Center for Dental Excellence does not provide medical or healthcare advice via articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for medical advice.
A Center for Dental Excellence provides expert dental care to the Brooklyn and Staten Island communities we serve. To schedule an appointment or consultation, contact us or call the office you would like to visit. (718) 232-8289 for Brooklyn, and (718) 980-9555 for Staten Island.