Improved Oral Health Can Reduce Lethal Risks Among African-American Women

Dentistry Today


Heart disease, stroke, and cancer are the leading causes of death among African-American women in the United States, according to Solstice Benefits, which is joining other organizations this April in recognizing April as National African-American Women’s Fitness Month. The dental benefits company also is using the event to note how better oral health may help these women reduce their risks of facing these issues.

“The statistics surrounding heart disease, stroke, breast cancer, and their lethal impact on African-American women are very serious. The unfortunate reality is that members of the African-American community are also very likely to have periodontal disease and untreated tooth decay, both of which can have serious health impact,” said Solstice CEO and dentist Dr. Leonard Weiss.

“The great news is that there are things we can do to lower the prevalence of medical and dental issues in the African-American community. A good start is to get screened by a physician and dentist. Lifestyle changes including being physically active and maintaining great oral health are key,” said Weiss.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among all Americans, yet African-American women are at a higher risk than any other group, the American Heart Association (AHA) reports. Risk factors include the frequency of high blood pressure within this group and obesity. Yet the AHA also notes that only one in five African-American women believe she has a higher chance of getting heart disease, breast cancer, or stroke.

Plus, Solstice adds that many people do not know that overall health and oral health are connected. Bacteria from the mouth can travel and attach to damaged areas of the heart, causing endocarditis. Infections and inflammation that originate in the mouth also have been linked to heart disease and clogged arteries, Solstice says. But positive outcomes increase with health screenings including dental exams, a healthy diet, a physically active lifestyle, healthy weight, and effectively managing diabetes and blood pressure, the company says.

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