Detrimental Impact of Substance Use Disorder in the Oral Cavity

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  • General Registration – $119
  • Rutgers School of Nursing Faculty, Preceptors, Students, and Alumni – $99
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Substance use disorders is a major public health concern affecting people from all walks of life and all age groups and irrespective of where you practice, substance use is likely to have found its way into your patient base. Chronic exposure to addictive substances could lead to mucocutaneous changes in the orofacial region. In 2019, 53,000 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and nearly 11,000 die from this disease. Two major risk factors for oral cancer are tobacco smoking and excessive alcohol use. The mortality rate for oral cancer has remained relatively unchanged for several decades primarily due to late stage diagnosis.

Oral cavity is readily accessible to inspection. Positioned at the forefront of primary care and equipped with the oral health capacity, nursing professionals can detect early orofacial abnormalities and appropriately intervene in the management of suspected substance use disorders and their sequela. This engagement is particularly important for the segment of population who does not visit a dentist regularly but is more likely to see a medical provider. Do you feel comfortable differentiating variations of normal from oral pathology? Are you able to identify specific orofacial changes caused by using tobacco products, vaping, Areca nut, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy and opioids? This case-based presentation illustrates examples of specific oral changes caused by a variety of substances of abuse and highlights the unique role of nursing professionals in timely recognition of detrimental impact of substance use disorder in the oral cavity including oral precancer.


Upon completion of this activity, participant will be able to:

  • Describe the pathogenesis and epidemiology of substance use disorder 
  • Appreciate the importance of oral examination as part of comprehensive physical assessment
  • Recognize different oral signs and symptoms caused by various substances of abuse
  • Discuss tobacco and alcohol as risk factors in the epidemiology of oral cancer
  • Describe poor prognosis and therapeutic complications of advanced oral cancer
  • Identify clinical spectrum of oral precancer and understand the impact of early detection on survival rate
  • Understand the importance of open communication between medical and dental providers for optimal, comprehensive and expedited patient care


Mahnaz Fatahzadeh DMD MSD Dip ABOM

Planners and Speakers have no conflicts of interest to disclose regarding this educational activity.

There is no commercial support or sponsorship for this activity.


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