How Your Dentist Can Help Your Heart

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Every year, there seems to be more and more information clearly linking oral health to overall health, including heart health. But while a person may be reluctant to make a dental appointment, he or she is far less likely to make an unprompted visit to a cardiologist. That’s where a dentist can help.

The Journal of the American Dental Association recently published a study that followed 200 patients, male and female, whose dentists had been given a special computer system called HeartScore. The program calculates the probability of heart disease and cardiac-event death by analyzing factors you’re probably not used to covering with your dentist: cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking habits, age and gender.

Dentists gave a dozen male participants a HeartScore of 10% or higher, which means they have at least a 10% increased risk of a fatal heart attack. But more importantly, the dentists all gave these participants advice that could save their lives: see a specialist.

Although you may not expect your dentist to predict the future of your cardiac health, this study shows that when they look a little deeper than your mouth, according to the study authors, “oral health care professionals may find themselves in an opportune position to enhance the overall health and well-being of their patients.”

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