New initiative focuses on oral health clinicians in prevention and early detection of heart disease


Healthy Smiles, Healthy Hearts™ program developed by the American Heart Association in partnership with Delta Dental will expand the care environment to provide equitable, high-quality and comprehensive care

Dallas, January 16, 2024 A patient's oral health can serve as an indicator of overall health and well-being. Research shows that chronic gum inflammation may be linked to other chronic conditions, including coronary artery disease and diabetes.[1] Additionally, certain bacteria that live in the mouth can travel through the bloodstream to other parts of the body, including the heart and lungs. Oral bacteria, including viridans streptococci (VGS), can cause infective endocarditis, an infection of the lining of the heart or heart valves.[2] American Heart Association's New Healthy Smile, Healthy HeartTM value Developed in partnership with Delta Dental, the initiative aims to improve overall patient health across the country by expanding access to equitable, comprehensive health care and educating patients and clinicians on the connection between heart health and oral health .

The American Heart Association, the world's leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, says preventing or early detection of heart disease can significantly improve health outcomes.Through a healthy smile, a healthy heartTM value As part of the initiative, the association and Delta Dental will work with oral health clinicians to develop and implement new standards of care for heart health screening in dental offices by performing blood pressure screenings and referring to primary care when necessary. The initiative will also educate healthcare professionals and patients about the connection between heart health and oral health while emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive patient care team in improving overall health and well-being.

“Oral health professionals can play a critical role as part of the systemic care team to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Joseph C. Wu, MD, PhD, FAHA, volunteer president and director of the American Heart Association's Stanford Cardiovascular Research Professor Simon H. Stertzer, Professor of Medicine and Radiology, Stanford University School of Medicine. “When dentists and primary care physicians work together, we can create more access points to quality, comprehensive health care and educate our patients on the impact of good oral hygiene on overall health and well-being.”

“Oral disease can seriously impact general health, and preventive oral care is critical to reducing related health risks, including cardiovascular disease,” said Daniel W. Croley, DMD, chief dental officer at Delta Dental. “Our partnership with the American Heart Association marks a critical step toward enhancing access to quality comprehensive care and underscores the role of dental visits as part of an overall health screening to detect cardiovascular disease and other conditions early.”

There are more than 134,000 dental offices in the United States, and approximately 27 million patients visit a dentist, but not necessarily another physician, such as a primary care provider each year.[3] Dentists can be an important resource for counseling and screening patients for many chronic conditions, including hypertension and oral cancer, creating valuable opportunities to promote prevention and early detection in oral health settings.

More information about the American Heart Association's new Healthy Smiles, Healthy Healthy HeartsTM value Initiative developed in partnership with Delta Dental, visit: Oral Health | American Heart Association.

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a tireless force working toward a longer, healthier world. We are committed to ensuring equitable health for all communities. In partnership with numerous organizations and supported by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for public health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for a century. During 2024, our centenary year, we celebrate 100 years of rich history and achievements. As we enter our second century of bold discovery and impact, our vision is to advance health and hope for everyone, everywhere. Connect with us at heart.org, Facebook, X Or call 1-800-AHA-USA1.

About Delta Dental

Since 1955, Delta Dental has provided comprehensive, high-quality oral health care to millions of enrollees and has built the nation's strongest network of dental providers. Delta Dental of California, which includes its affiliates Delta Dental Insurance Company, Delta Dental of Pennsylvania, Delta Dental of New York, Inc. and the national DeltaCare USA network, provides dental benefits to more than 45 million people in 15 states and the District of Columbia*. They are members of Delta Dental Plans in Oak Brook, Ill., a nonprofit national association that reaches millions of people across the country through Delta Dental's national network. Delta Dental is a registered trademark of Delta Dental Plans Association. For more information about Delta Dental of California and its affiliated companies, please visit www.deltadentalins.com.

*Delta Dental's operating areas in California include Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Media enquiries: 214-706-1173

Julia Kersey: julia.kersey@heart.org

Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and stroke.org

Jinja Skronek: 415-975-8272; Kskowronek@delta.org

Delta Dental Public Relations Manager






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