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


(NewMediaWire) – January 16, 2024 – DALLAS  A patient’s oral health can be an indicator of overall health and well-being. Research shows that chronic gum inflammation may be associated with other chronic diseases including coronary artery disease and diabetes.[1] In addition, 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 group streptococcal (VGS), can cause infective endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart or heart valves.[2] The American Heart Association’s new Healthy Smiles, Healthy HeartsTM initiative, developed in collaboration with Delta Dental, aims to improve the total health of patients nationwide by expanding access to equitable, integrated health care, and educating patients and clinicians on the connection between heart health and oral health.

According to the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, the prevention or early detection of heart disease can result in significantly better health outcomes. Through the Healthy Smiles, Healthy HeartsTM initiative, the Association and Delta Dental will engage oral health clinicians to create and implement a new standard of care for heart health screening at the dentist’s office, by conducting blood pressure screenings and providing referrals to primary care if necessary. The initiative will also educate health care professionals and patients on the link between heart health and oral health, while emphasizing the importance of a patient’s integrated care team in improving total health and well-being.

“Oral health care professionals can play a pivotal role as part of a whole-body care team to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Joseph C. Wu, M.D., Ph.D., FAHA, American Heart Association volunteer president, director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and Simon H. Stertzer Professor of Medicine & Radiology at the Stanford School of Medicine. “When dentists and primary care physicians work together, we can create many more access points for quality, integrated health care and educate our patients on the impact of good oral hygiene on total health and well-being.”

“Oral diseases can significantly impact systemic health, and preventive oral care routines are critical to reducing associated health risks, including cardiovascular conditions,” said Daniel W. Croley, DMD, Chief Dental Officer for Delta Dental. “Our collaboration with the American Heart Association marks a pivotal step towards strengthening access to quality, integrated care and emphasizes the role of dental visits as part of a holistic health check which can offer early detection of cardiovascular disease and other conditions.”

There are more than 134,000 dental practices in the United States, and approximately 27 million patients see their dentist each year but not necessarily another physician, like a primary care provider.[3] Dentists can be 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.

For more information on The American Heart Association’s new Healthy Smiles, Healthy Healthy HeartsTM initiative, developed in collaboration with Delta Dental, please visit: Oral Health | American Heart Association.

Additional Resources:


About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for a century. During 2024 – our Centennial year – we celebrate our rich 100-year history and accomplishments. As we forge ahead into our second century of bold discovery and impact our vision is to advance health and hope for everyone, everywhere. Connect with us on, Facebook, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

About Delta Dental

Since 1955, Delta Dental has offered comprehensive, high-quality oral health care coverage to millions of enrollees and built the strongest network of dental providers in the country. The Delta Dental of California enterprise includes its affiliates Delta Dental Insurance Company, Delta Dental of Pennsylvania, Delta Dental of New York, Inc., as well as the national DeltaCare USA network, and provides dental benefits to more than 45 million people across 15 states and the District of Columbia*. All are members of the Delta Dental Plans Association based in Oak Brook, Illinois, the not-for-profit national association that through a national network of Delta Dental companies collectively covers millions of people nationwide. Delta Dental is a registered trademark of Delta Dental Plans Association. For more information about Delta Dental of California and Affiliates, please visit

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

For Media Inquiries: 214-706-1173

Julia Kersey:

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

Kinga Skowronek:

Public Relations Manager at Delta Dental


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