Although the mouth is part of the body, we often think of it as something separate. We often ignore bleeding or tender gums, while an irritation or pain elsewhere in the body would mean a trip to the doctor.

Poor oral health can affect a person's quality of life. Oral pain, missing teeth or oral infections can influence the way a person speaks, eats and socializes. These oral health problems can reduce a person's quality of life by affecting their physical, mental and social well-being.

The reality is that oral health problems could be a sign of something serious such as oral cancer. Every year approximately 3,200 Canadians are diagnosed with oral cancer and 1,050 deaths from oral cancer occur. This devastating disease has a low survival rate because it is often diagnosed very late. With early detection the survival rate of oral cancer can be greatly improved. This means going to your dentist for regular dental exams. Your dentist has the training and experience to detect oral cancer early.

Everything that happens in your mouth affects your whole body, which is why it is so important to visit your dentist regularly. Only your dentist has the training, skills and expertise to properly address all your oral health care needs. Regular dental exams help prevent small problems from getting worse.

As part of a healthy lifestyle and to help reduce the risk of oral disease, follow CDA's steps to good oral health.