Dental support organization Pacific Dental Services (PDS) is joining healthcare professionals nationwide in recognizing American Heart Month by raising larger awareness of the link between oral health and heart health with campaigns in February targeted toward patients and its own team members.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States according to the American Heart Association. There is increasing research indicating the connection between oral health and heart health is even more pronounced than experts previously thought. About 90% of middle-aged adults and more than 74% of young adults have one or more risk factors for heart disease. Risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and gum disease or oral inflammation.
Periodontitis is a severe gum infection affecting 740 million people, making it is the sixth-most prevalent disease worldwide. One study showing the association between periodontal disease and atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases suggests that the risk factor of gum disease may initiate the development, maturation and instability of atheroma in arteries and conversely when the condition of one disease improves, it positively impacts the condition of the other. Early diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease can greatly impact and improve the status of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases.
A new report from the National Institutes of Health summarizes that Americans’ oral health has largely worsened over the past 20 years and that movement toward integration of dental and medical services is an important strategy to improve patient care. Gary Pickard, Pacific Dental Services’ senior director of government and industry affairs, was a contributor on the report.
“Pacific Dental Services continues to lead the way in highlighting the connection between oral health and overall health, or what we call the Mouth-Body Connection, and the importance of dental-medical integration,” said Stephen E. Thorne IV, founder and CEO, Pacific Dental Services. “Our goal throughout American Heart Month is to continue educating our patients, team members and communities we serve about the importance of maintaining good oral health. A healthier smile lowers the risk of heart disease, which in turn creates a healthier heart.”
Some of the ways Pacific Dental Services is observing the month include:
- PDS team members and supported practices participated in the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day 4 to help raise awareness about heart disease and stroke in women. The initiative, Go Red for Women, is designed to increase women’s heart health awareness and serve as a catalyst for change to improve the lives of women globally.
- Encouraging patients and PDS team members to join the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s 28 Days Toward a Healthy Heart challenge as part of its #OurHearts movement to inspire people to support each other to be heart-healthy and achieve heart health goals.
- Inviting PDS team members in Irvine, California, Dallas, Texas and Henderson, Nevada to spend some of their Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 learning CPR to be better prepared in case of an emergency. Additionally, team members will create no-sew heart pillows to help patients recovering from open heart surgery. The pillows provide an extra layer of pressure and comfort to combat painful jolts from coughing, sneezing or moving and helps to reduce pain by keeping the surgical incision and skin around the incision in place.
- PDS-supported practices distributed the latest issue of Generations of Smiles, an educational magazine produced by the Smile Generation that aims to educate the public on the link between oral health and whole-body health. The issue focuses on the link between oral health and heart health and features content form the American Heart Association.
Since its inception in 1994, PDS-supported dentists have been committed to clinical excellence and providing the Perfect Patient Experience. This includes educating patients about the link between oral health and whole-body health – what PDS and its supported practices call the Mouth-Body Connection. Research shows that harmful bacteria and inflammation in the mouth can indicate and even cause systemic conditions throughout the body. Maladies of the mouth, including periodontal disease, may be linked with other medical conditions including oral cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and more.