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Protect your heart with dental health

Medical studies have long hinted at a connection between heart health and oral health. A central Ohio dentist says she's using it to try and prevent heart attack and stroke.

Worthington dental expert Barbara McClatchie is looking beyond flossing to the plaque and bacteria you can't see-- and what it could mean to your risk for heart disease.

One of her patients, Donna Swain had never given much thought to the connection between dental and heart health, “It was kind of a sticker shock thing you know because you’re thinking I don’t want anything bad to happen to me,” Swain said.

Dr. Barbara McClatchie said her practice is not just about rebuilding mouths for cosmetics, comfort, and function. She said their focus is on bringing dentistry and medicine together, “We have the opportunity to discuss our patient's health history their family's history, we screen blood pressure, we do an oral cancer exam and identify if they have some high risk."

The opportunity arrives out of a recent study in the British Medical Journal which is the first to identify certain high-risk oral bacteria in the mouth are associated with cardiovascular disease. The Bale Doneen study or BD method is aimed at preventing and treating vascular disease. It asserts that five high-risk bacteria can lead to heart disease.

Patients are screened using a saliva test during their dental exams. “We're actually identifying periodontal disease to prevent heart attacks and strokes,” Dr. McClatchie said. The dentist and her team work up a specific plan to treat and monitor the risk level.

Patient Donna Swain said that she’s seen success and good health, “I come every three to four months for my cleanings because I am at risk 20:59 but so far things have been going very, very well.”

There is a specific saliva test and then depending upon the results a referral to a cardiologist. McClatchie will be working with her husband, Dr. Eric Goulder to pen the only medical center that does this care in one location. It will be called the Heart Attack Stroke Prevention Center of Central Ohio. The center will be based in Worthington and is set to open in July of 2017.

It is important to note that experts from the American Heart Association believe the research isn’t strong enough to suggest that gum disease treatment will lessen the risk of heart attack or stroke. Your best advice is to see your doctor. Also remember that you lower your risk, according to the AHA, by the following: quitting smoking, managing your weight, controlling your blood pressure and staying active.