Pacific Dental Services (PDS), a leading dental and medical support organization in the U.S., is recognizing American Heart Month throughout February with several initiatives that highlight the growing link between oral health and heart health.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United Statesfor the past century, claiming over 1,900 lives each day.1 Recent studies show a strong link between oral health and heart health, revealing that those with periodontal disease are two to three times more likely to experience a stroke or heart attack.2 Despite its status as the primary cause of death in the U.S., there remains a significant lack of awareness surrounding this critical issue.
“During American Heart Month our focus is on raising awareness about the importance of maintaining optimal oral health — a key contributor to improved heart health,” said Stephen E. Thorne, Founder and CEO of Pacific Dental Services. “Effective care coordination between dental professionals and primary care providers is vital for early detection of heart disease. Just as we prioritize heart health this month, addressing periodontal disease early has shown to reduce cardiovascular risk.”
PDS-supported clinicians regularly educate patients about the link between oral health and overall health—also known as the Mouth-Body Connection. Research shows oral bacteria and inflammation can indicate and even contribute to systemic conditions throughout the body. Periodontal disease has been connected to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, pregnancy complications, and more. The link is often bi-directional: many systemic diseases, conditions and even medications can adversely affect a patient’s oral health.
To enable closer collaboration between the dental and medical fields, PDS became the first dental support organization in the world to implement Epic, the most widely used comprehensive health records system, into its supported dental practices. This integration allows easy exchange of patient data between oral health providers and medical providers, improving overall patient care.
Throughout American Heart Month, PDS is conducting several initiatives to increase awareness about the connection between oral health and heart health, such as:
- Participating in National Wear Red Day to show support and raise awareness for heart health.
- Making heart-shaped pillows for patients recovering from open heart surgery to provide comfort and support during their healing process.
- Educating team members about heart health through the National Institutes of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s #OurHearts campaign, which includes facts about healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and blood sugar levels, and distributing resources from the NIH’s Wellness Toolkit throughout the month.
- Providing interactive CPR demonstrations to ensure team members are better prepared in an emergency.
- Hosting a movement challenge to encourage team members to achieve the recommended 150 minutes of heart-pumping activity each week, as recommended by the American Heart Association.
- Participating in Love Notes Around the World in support of the American Cancer Society. Team members will create and send messages of compassion to cancer patients, caretakers, and care providers to show love and encouragement during challenging treatment.
- Distributing the latest issue of Generations of Smiles, an educational magazine produced by Smile Generation that aims to educate the public on the link between oral health and overall health. This issue focuses on heart health and features content from cardiovascular expert Amy Doneen, DNP.
Visit pacificdentalservices.com to learn more.
About Pacific Dental Services
Pacific Dental Services (PDS) is one of the country’s leading dental and medical support organizations, empowering clinicians with supported autonomy to deliver comprehensive patient care. PDS provides administrative and business operations support, highly skilled staff, and ongoing training and education to help healthcare providers succeed. PDS incorporates the most advanced, proven technologies with best practices and procedures to ensure high-quality care and is a leading advocate for the integration of dental and medical care to improve whole-person health. Since its foundation in 1994, PDS has grown to support over 4,500 clinicians (dentists, dental hygienists, physicians, and nurse practitioners) in nearly 1,000 practices across 24 states and continues to expand. To learn more, visit pacificdentalservices.com or connect on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.
1 “More than half of U.S. adults don’t know heart disease is leading cause of death, despite 100-year reign.” American Heart Association. January 24. 2024. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/more-than-half-of-u-s-adults-dont-know-heart-disease-is-leading-cause-of-death-despite-100-year-reign.
2 Harvard Health. 2021. “Gum Disease and Heart Disease: The Common Thread.” February 15, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/gum-disease-and-heart-disease-the-common-thread.