A collaboration focusing on the importance of oral health clinicians in the prevention and early detection of heart disease.
American Heart Association’s Healthy Smiles, Healthy Hearts
Removing barriers to quality health care is critical to reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
The American Heart Association’s Healthy Smiles, Healthy Hearts Initiative focuses on:
- Engaging oral health professionals to create a new standard of care for heart health screening at the dentist’s office, with a focus on blood pressure screening and referral to primary care.
- Educating health care professionals, oral health care professionals and patients on the link between cardiovascular health and oral health.
The American Heart Association’s Healthy Smiles, Healthy Hearts is a national health initiative, developed in collaboration with Delta Dental, that will expand care settings that deliver equitable, high-quality and integrated care.
Delta Dental is proud to collaborate with the American Heart Association on the Healthy Smiles, Healthy Hearts initiative.
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The Connection Between Oral Health and Heart Health
Approximately 27 million patients see their dentist each year but not a physician. Dentists are an important resource to counsel and screen patients for many chronic diseases, including hypertension and oral cancer, creating a valuable opportunity to drive prevention and earlier detection in the oral health setting.
A patient’s oral health can be an indicator of overall health and well-being. When teeth and gums have inflammation and bacteria, it's possible that the bacteria can travel through the bloodstream to the rest of the body, including the heart and brain. Chronic gum inflammation may be associated with other systemic diseases including coronary artery disease, stroke and diabetes.
- ☐ Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day to remove plaque-forming bacteria.
- ☐ Eat a healthy diet rich in essential nutrients and reduce intake of refined carbohydrates like added sugars and processed grain foods.
- ☐ Avoid recreational smoke inhalation, such as cigarettes, vaping or hookah, as they can affect gums and increase the risk of heart disease.
- ☐ Talk with your oral clinician about oral health visits recommendations for individualized care.
- ☐ Talk to your dentist AND doctor or other health care professional about the connection between oral health and the health of your body.
- ☐ Share with your dentist your medical history, current conditions and any recent behavior changes in oral health care routines or newly developed oral health symptoms.
- ☐ Take your medications as prescribed and discuss the side effects of any medications, over the counter or prescribed, with your integrated health care team.
Life's Essential 8
The American Heart Association announced a checklist to measure cardiovascular health, which now includes healthy sleep – a response to the latest research showing that sleep impacts total health, and that people who get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night tend to manage other health factors more effectively.