Alcohol consumption has long been recognized as one of the major modifiable risk factors for thedevelopment of oral cancer. The excessive consumption of alcohol-containing beverages is alsoassociated with an increased risk of developing other cancers of the head and neck such as pharyngeal and laryngeal cancer, as well as other chronic diseases including heart disease,Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, liver disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes mellitusand bone disease.Despite the definite association between chronic alcohol consumption and oral cancer, theexact role of alcohol in the pathogenesis of the disease is not fully understood, and the following point should be considered: Not all oral cancer patients consume alcohol, and not all people whodrink alcoholic beverages develop oral cancer. In addition, smoking and alcohol consumption aresynergistic risk factors for oral carcinogenesis. This makes it difficult to assess the effects of thesefactors individually, with approximately 75% of all oral cancers arising in association with bothalcohol and tobacco use. Difficulties also arise in establishing an accurate measurement of alcoholintake, with variation in quantity, type and alcohol concentration existing between patients. Patientsubjectivity of alcohol consumption also impacts upon the accuracy of the measurement of alcoholintake, thus making it difficult to fully evaluate the role of alcohol in the development of oralcancer.This article will review the most recent literature on the effects of alcohol on the oral mucosa, andthe possible mechanisms by which alcohol is thought to act as a carcinogen. The article will alsoconsider the possible link between alcohol-containing mouthrinsees and oral cancer.