The gene encoding aldehyde dehydrogenase 7 family member A1 (ALDH7A1) has been associated with the development and prognosis in multiple cancers; however, the role of ALDH7A1 polymorphisms in oral cancer remains unknown. For this purpose, the influences of ALDH7A1 rs13182402 and rs12659017 on oral cancer development and prognosis were analyzed. Our resulted showed that ALDH7A1 rs13182402 genotype had less pathologic nodal metastasis among betel quid chewer. ALDH7A1 rs13182402 also corresponded to higher expressions in upper aerodigestive mucosa, whole blood, the musculoskeletal system and oral cancer tissues than did the ALDH7A1 wild type. Furthermore, ALDH7A1 overexpression in oral cancer cells increased in vitro migration, whereas its silencing reduced cell migration. Conversely, ALDH7A1 expression in tumor tissues and in patients with advanced disease was lower than that in normal tissues and in patients with early-stage disease. When the patients were classified into ALDH7A1-high and -low-expression groups, the high-ALDH7A1 group had superior outcomes in progression-free survival than the low-ALDH7A1 group (5-year survival of 58.7% vs. 48.0%, P = 0.048) did. In conclusion, patients with high ALDH7A1 expression might, however, have more favorable prognoses than those with low ALDH7A1 expression have.