How to Make 2017 a Happy and Healthy Year

by MikeMeehan 12/29/2016 11:15 AM

Ask yourself this question: How can you make 2017 the best year it can be? Yes, the following statistics from this Forbes article might be enough to push us away: Close to half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Only about eight percent stick with them. Even so, a New Year’s resolution can be worthwhile. It can be an opportunity for you to evaluate yourself. What did you do in the previous year you wish you had done differently? New Year’s resolutions require you to upend some ingrained habits. They can be difficult. But you can come up with a resolution that sticks. Here’s how: How to Make a Resolution that Sticks 1) Watch out for the New Year’s resolution spectrum. Picture a New Year’s resolution as resting on a pair of scales. You want equal weight — for the scales to balance with each other and not tilt one direction. With New Year’s resolutions, the scales can get tipped if the resolution is either: a. Too big. These resolutions deal with absolutes and don’t allow any leeway for the unexpected. This year, you might come down with the flu and have to take a week off from your workout routine. Does your resolution allow grace for those missed days? While it’s good to be ambitious, make sure your ambition is tied to your effort or performance and not to an unrealistic end result. b. Too vague. This is the opposite end of the too-big spectrum. Your resolution might have plenty of flexibility, but it’s just as doomed if you don’t incorporate concrete results. “I’m going to eat healthy and work out” sounds good, but it’s not enough to visualize a routine. 2) Choose something that aligns with your values. If you aren’t resolving to do something you’re passionate about, you’re probably setting yourself up for disappointment. At some point during the year, your motivation will be tested. For example, when the weather registers as six degrees with a negative-15-degree wind chill, are you still going to want to trek to the gym? I’m willing to guess that answer for you: No. The more you can tie your resolution to your core values, the more it will influence your habits. An easy way to come up with a resolution that aligns with your core values is this: Imagine your life as a story. Right now, you’re living out a chapter of that story. Now, imagine where you want the story to go. How do you want the story to end? What’s preventing you from getting there? By thinking in these terms, you can begin to identify areas to work on. If those suggestions aren’t enough to come up with a New Year’s resolution, you might want to consider one of these six goals. Six New Year’s Resolutions You Might Want to Consider 1) De-stress. Stress has a lot of negative effects on the body, including to the teeth. To alleviate stress, you can develop a habit of these six simple steps. 2) Eat healthier. Whether it be a main dish, a favorite winter drink or a healthy dessert, eating well can give you more energy, reduce your risk for disease and just make you feel better in general. 3) Learn an instrument. Music is good for the soul. And you can also take certain steps to make sure it’s good on the teeth, too! 4) Read more. For this one, you might want to choose a concrete number, like 24 books throughout the year. Or better yet, six books every three months: It’s the same goal, but you can feel like you’re making progress. As you begin flipping pages, make sure to follow the 20-20-20 rule. 5) Brush and floss. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily can prevent all sorts of issues in your mouth. 6) Show yourself some love. Too many people place too much worth on who they aren’t, while undervaluing who they are. For 2017, you can commit to wellness, brighten your smile and feed your soul. We wish you a happy and healthy 2017! These are a few of our New Year’s resolutions. Now it’s your turn: What are yours?  

More than Just a Piece of Thread: Choosing the Right Kind of Floss

by MikeMeehan 11/23/2016 2:49 PM

Flossing has come under fire recently. The U.S. Department of Health excluded a recommendation of floss in its latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans updates, claiming there’s not enough evidence flossing prevents gum disease or tooth decay. We, however, believe you should keep flossing. Flossing has been shown to reduce inflammation and bleeding of the gums, but only in short-term studies. The cost of a long-term study would take years and would cost a lot of money. Plus, there would be ethical ramifications from the non-floss group if flossing turned out to prevent long-term disease. While flossing may not have a whole slew of evidence in its favor, it is low-risk and doesn’t cost a lot. So we’ll keep recommending it. But choosing floss, believe it or not, can be complicated. You might ask, How is it complicated? It’s just a piece of thread. Floss is more than just a piece of thread. Consider these factors when determining which floss is right for you. Three Types of Floss Before you can determine specific preferences, you first have to decide between three types of floss: Nylon floss Monofilament floss Dental tape If you aren’t sure which one you use, it’s probably nylon floss. Nylon floss is the most common. But, in some circumstances, you might consider a different type. Drop the nylon floss if: Your flossing experience often involves the floss ripping or tearing. Nothing can be more annoying than having to unravel a new strand of floss from the spool because your strand snapped in two halfway through flossing. If this is a frequent occurrence, you may want to consider monofilament floss. It’s made of either rubber, plastic, or polytetrafluoroethylene — not fabric, like nylon — so it doesn’t shred as easy. You have a lot of bridgework or wide gaps between your teeth. In these cases, you may want to consider dental tape. Dental tape is wider and flatter than nylon tape, so it can more effectively clean out spaces between teeth.   If these aren’t concerns for you, nylon floss is a little cheaper. After choosing which type of floss, you still have another decision to make. Wax On or Wax Off? Should you buy waxed floss or unwaxed? Well, both will do the trick. And, when weighing pros against cons, some of the pros are subjective. For example, one camp claims waxed floss is easier to slide between crowded teeth, due to the wax coating on the nylon. The other camp, however, cites unwaxed floss as being easier to maneuver, due to its being thinner than waxed floss. Some qualities to consider when purchasing floss include: Waxed floss is more flavorful. Let’s face it: When flossing tastes good, you’re more likely to make it a part of your routine. The same goes for your children: If bubblegum flavored floss works as an incentive for them, then waxed floss is probably the way to go. This could also be just as much incentive to go with unwaxed. If you’re pregnant, for example, the flavor could trigger nausea. Unwaxed floss squeaks against clean teeth. Unwaxed floss will squeak against clean teeth, signaling to you plaque has been removed. Most waxed floss is coated in Teflon. Teflon is a tough synthetic resin made by polymerizing polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as the stuff used on non-stick cookware. Some people claim Teflon can be toxic to the body and can cause health issues like certain types of cancer. The American Cancer Society, however, does not suspect it of causing cancer. Once you’ve figured out what type of floss works best for you, you might have one more option to consider. Flossing tools Depending on your circumstances, you might need certain flossing tools. Floss holder For example, if you can’t wrap floss around your fingers, or if you have to floss for a parent or child, you may want to consider a Y- or U-shaped floss holder. Rather than thread a strand of floss between two fingers, you can use a pre-threaded device for farther reach or easier maneuverability. Floss threader Or you may want to consider a floss threader. A floss threader comes in handy if you have wide gaps between your teeth or if you have a child with braces. The threader is a flexible piece of plastic with a loop at one end. For braces, link a strand of floss to the loop, then slide the pointed end of the threader through the bridgework of the braces until the linked strand of floss has access to the tooth. Five Steps to Better Flossing While it’s a good idea to find the right floss for you, what’s more valuable is flossing the right way. Flossing, like brushing, should take about two minutes and incorporate these five steps: Start with an 18-inch strand of floss. Wind most of it around one of your middle fingers and the rest around the same finger on your other hand. Tighten floss with about an inch of floss between your hands. Glide floss between teeth with a gentle sawing motion. Curve it into a C against your tooth. Hold the floss against each tooth, gently scraping the tooth’s side while moving the floss away from the gum. Repeat on all teeth. Don’t forget the back ones. Rinse to remove any loosened plaque and food particles. Flossing may be under fire by some, but it is another tactic for removing plaque buildup on teeth. So, by using the right kind of floss, coupled with the right technique, you can expect results.

Are You Using Your Teeth for the Wrong Reason?

by MikeMeehan 10/13/2016 3:22 PM

Recently, I moved. The house is older, so instead of a closet, a six-foot section of wall is set back where a cabinet for clothing could go. The other day, my dad helped me install wire shelving. It was fairly straightforward: He held the shelving up, I used a level, and then I drilled in an anchor screw. During the process, I was tempted to hold the anchor screw with my teeth. Luckily, I remembered: Teeth do not make a good “third hand.” Five Reasons Your Teeth Don’t Make a Good “Third Hand” It’s easy, with home projects, to bite off more than we can chew. We might need an extra hand, so we’re tempted to use our teeth to hold a non-food object. But teeth don’t make a good “third hand” for the following five reasons: Biting down on non-food objects can crack enamel. When you chomp down on non-food objects — anchor screws, sewing needles, pencils — it’s easy to forget just how much pressure gets put on the teeth. One study suggests humans can bite with a force equivalent to about 265 pounds. In my case, I probably wouldn’t have exerted that kind of pressure on an anchor screw. But one surprise jolt is all it would take to crack enamel. Your teeth are at risk of shifting. For a similar reason to why braces straighten crooked teeth, a non-food object can shift straight teeth. In the case of braces, wiring applies pressure to the teeth, which straightens them over time. But with non-food objects, undue pressure is being placed on just one tooth. Over time, that one tooth can shift. You risk damaging other dental work that’s already been done. When you use your teeth as a “third hand,” you risk cracking fillings, which aren’t as strong as enamel, or damaging other dental work that’s already been done. You expose yourself to a choking hazard. One hiccup or yawn and the object could become lodged in your throat. With anchor screws, maybe not so much. But for something smaller, like a sewing needle, yes. Biting down on non-food objects over time can be noticeable. For people who bite down on non-food objects out of habit, the damage can even have a noticeable effect. A seamstress might have small ridges or grooves worn into teeth over an extended period of time from holding sewing needles. The same goes for construction workers with nails.         But you might be guilty of something worse than using teeth as a “third hand.” What’s Worse than Using Teeth as a “Third Hand”? All of us have probably used our teeth to tear electrical tape, or strip insulation from copper wiring, or snap plastic label tags from clothes, or pop a pull tab on a can of soda. But each of these actions — using teeth as scissors, wire strippers or bottle openers — is far worse than using teeth as a “third hand.” When we use our teeth as a “third hand” for non-food objects, we might unconsciously place too much pressure on our teeth. But when we use our teeth to tear, strip, snap or pop, we consciously exert an undue pressure on our teeth. Yes, it might not be super convenient to find the scissors, but in the long run, grabbing the proper tools will be better. Not Just Limited to Non-Food Objects Do you know the Tootsie Pop commercial, with Mr. Owl’s sage advice to the question “How many licks does it take to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop?” Mr. Owl knows, intrinsically, most of us aren’t patient enough to handle hard candy in a manner that’s best for our teeth. Hard candy, ice cubes and shelled foods can pose just as much a threat to teeth as common nails, needles and screws. The temptation can sometimes be there — with nuts and other shelled foods (like crab legs or lobster tail) — to use our teeth as a nut- or seafood-cracker. We are committed to protecting smiles. And one of the easiest ways to protect your smile is to use your teeth for their intended purposes. Next time you might be tempted to use your teeth as a “third hand,” use the proper tools instead. You’ll be well on your way to maintaining an attractive smile for a long time.

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