If preventing heart disease isn't on your list of resolutions, add it now. It's the No. 1 cause of death in the USA. And if you are scared of dentists, it's time to get over it. New research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions in November found that people who had their teeth cleaned by a dentist or hygienist had a 24% lower risk of heart attack and 13% lower risk of stroke. One possible reason: Professional cleanings appear to reduce inflammation-causing bacterial growth that can lead to heat disease or stroke. More tips to protect your heart: Stop smoking, eat healthy, move more, reduce stress and limit alcohol.