How to Enjoy Hockey without Hurting Your Smile

by MikeMeehan 1/6/2017 9:36 AM

Any hockey fans out there? Earlier this week, the St. Louis Blues had a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at Busch Stadium during the Winter Classic 2017. It was a big game for several reasons: The 2016-’17 season marks the National Hockey League’s 100th anniversary. The St. Louis Blues are celebrating their 50th anniversary. Busch Stadium has been around for 10 years. Not only can hockey be fun to watch, it can be fun to play. And while the sport comes with many rewards, it can be dangerous to your eyes and teeth. Are the Risks of Hockey Worth the Rewards? Some of the rewards of hockey include: It improves fitness. Hockey improves cardiovascular fitness, as well as bone and muscle strength. It can decrease stress. When you play hockey, dopamine is released in your brain. This can make you happier and more relaxed. It can help you sleep better. This is also due to dopamine in the brain. You can learn teamwork and communication skills. You play hockey on a team. To get the puck down the rink, you have to communicate nonverbally with your teammates. You can concentrate better. Hockey has shifts. A shift is the amount of time a player, line or defense pair is on the ice. Typically, a shift lasts a minute, which, when you’re trying to give it all you got, can require a lot of focus. By learning to focus even after you start to tire, you can stay up on your game. This focus can spill into other areas of your life. You can make quick decisions. Because hockey is such a fast-paced sport, you have to sharpen your reflexes. It can build confidence. After seeing the gains from the game, hockey can encourage you to pursue and achieve other goals. However, hockey is one of the most dangerous sports when it comes to teeth and eye safety. It’s a full-contact sport. Sticks are slapped at the ice. Pucks can travel to speeds as high as 60 mph. Opponents check one another into walls. Any of these can cause damage to teeth and eyes. In fact, this article from the National Hockey League newsroom says losing teeth is just a part of the game. Four Reasons Hockey Injuries Can Be Devastating Losing teeth may be a part of the game of hockey, but it shouldn’t be a part of the bigger game of life. Nor should eye injuries be a part of that game. Here’s why: Missing teeth can make it harder to chew foods. Teeth break down food for proper digestion. Better chewing can better nourish your body, as chewing produces more saliva. Saliva can prevent plaque from building up around teeth and can also aid in the digestion process. Missing teeth can make it harder to speak. Teeth aid in speech. If you’re missing teeth, your tongue might readjust, which can affect your speaking skills. Injuries to the eye can affect your vision. This may seem like an obvious thing to write, but consider it for a moment. Your eyes are a window to the world. With impaired sight, it could feel like your window has some annoying smudges. Damage to teeth and eyes can affect your appearance. When you smile, the first feature many people notice is your teeth. Teeth support the lips and face. Some people have reported their noses and upper lips sagging after losing their two front teeth. Likewise, some people claim eyes are the first feature we fall in love with. Damage to either could rob you of your hard-earned confidence. Three Pieces You Need to Protect Your Eyes and Teeth When you play the sport, yes, you want to play for the love of the game. But protecting your eyes and teeth should be No. 1. It’s ok, though. You have a few options: Always wear a face mask. This doesn’t just apply to goalies. A face mask can protect both your eyes and teeth, and is durable enough to stop a puck flying at 60 mph. Wear sports goggles. Sports goggles can offer added protection to the eyes where the cracks in the wire mesh of a face mask does not. Wear a mouth guard. A mouth guard can protect your mouth and jaw. Unfortunately, if a puck flies at your face at 60 mph, a tiny piece of plastic probably isn’t going to do much to save your tooth. Hence the importance of also wearing a face mask. However, the mouth guard isn’t completely useless. Without a mouth guard, the puck might cause far more extensive damage to your jaw. Hockey, like any other sport, does come with its enjoyable moments. But it can be dangerous. Get out, and enjoy the game. Just make sure to protect your eyes and teeth when you do!

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?  

A Breath of Fresh Air: What I Learned from National 12-Hour Fresh Breath Day

by MikeMeehan 12/15/2016 3:11 PM

You might have participated with us earlier this week as we celebrated National 12-Hour Fresh Breath Day. Our useful videos are still available on Facebook. The purpose of National 12-Hour Fresh Breath Day is to appreciate oral hygiene and its importance by keeping breath fresh for 12 hours. Below is a journal of my participation, documenting the day’s unexpected challenges, breath-freshening tactics and tips for determining if your breath is actually fresh. 8 a.m. After a shower, I brushed and flossed my teeth. I followed techniques we wrote about here. Once I’d finished, I checked my mouth. My tongue had a white film on it, which indicated bad breath. I scrubbed my tongue with a toothbrush, as one of the leading culprits of bad breath is gunk collecting on the tongue. After I finished brushing, though, the white film remained. I needed to come up with a more effective trick. I had some mints handy, so I popped a couple of those and headed out the door. 9:30 a.m. At the office, I tried a tongue cleaner, which I’d bought at a grocery store on the way to work. The tongue cleaner was simple: a ring attached to a handle, kind of like a bubble blower. I stuck my tongue out, pressed the cleaner against the back of it and pulled forward. As I did, a yellowish saliva formed in the fold of my tongue. The yellowish color was from a buildup of bacteria that had accrued overnight. The saliva became trapped in the ring, which made the cleaner look even more like a bubble blower: one that had been dipped in bubble solution. As a man who brushes regularly, I was shocked by how gross my tongue was. 10 a.m. I poured a cup of coffee. As an unapologetic not-morning person, I need the caffeine. Unfortunately, strong-smelling drinks like coffee can lead to bad breath. I’d have to act soon. But first, I was going to enjoy me some coffee. 11:30 am Coffee finished, I tested my breath. At first, I used the age-old method of covering my mouth and nose with my hand and breathing into my palm. I didn’t smell anything, though. Having just had coffee, I didn’t trust those results. I tried the lick test. The lick test is useful, because you can be pretty discreet about it. Simply lick your wrist, wait for it to dry, then smell it. My breath didn’t smell nearly as bad as I anticipated. I considered more mints. But the mints contained sugar, and sugar can be a breeding ground for bacteria. I had a stick of sugar-free xylitol gum instead. 12 p.m. Of all the days to meet a friend for lunch — and at an Indian buffet, no less! I loaded up on butter chicken, chicken curry, aloo palak, methi paneer and garlic naan. Strongly flavored foods with lots of spices may taste delicious, but they can also lead to bad breath. Luckily, the restaurant offered pan mukhwas by the front door. Pan mukhwas is an assortment of fennel seeds and other Indian seeds. I asked the waiter more about it. He explained that not only do the seeds freshen breath, they can soothe an overfull stomach. I tried a handful. They tasted like black licorice. 1:30 p.m. Back in the office, I asked some friends if they’d be willing to check my breath. They politely declined. So I tried the spoon test. Scraping my tongue with a spoon, I admired the nice saliva sample I left on the plastic rim. Then I sniffed the spoon. I didn’t smell anything. Perhaps the pan mukhwas had worked. 3:30 p.m. At this point, it was time for a mid-afternoon snack. I prepared a plate of celery. Celery can ward off bad breath, because it’s fiber-rich and increases saliva production. Some people even call it nature’s dental floss! Unfortunately for my coworkers, there is no quiet way to munch celery. 4 p.m. I tested for bad breath again. At first, I tried the cheek-pulling method. I grabbed my cheeks and pulled them away, exposing my teeth. Then I pressed the pulled-back skin against my teeth. I tried this a few times and couldn’t smell anything. I wasn’t sure if it meant I had fresh breath or if I had a terrible sense of smell or if I wasn’t doing it right or if the technique just doesn’t work. I opted instead to place a cotton ball on the back of my tongue. But it stuck when I tried to pull it away, and I had to fish cotton from my mouth. The results, however, were fairly accurate. When I sniffed the cotton ball, it smelled like a combination of fennel seeds and celery. My breath was pretty fresh! 5 p.m. As I finished another mug-full of water, I marked on a piece of paper how much I’d consumed.  One cause of bad breath is dry mouth, so throughout the day, I’d drunk lots of water. By 5 p.m., I’d charted just shy of a gallon: about 115 ounces. 8 p.m. I finally arrived at 12 hours. Though it may have been subjective as to whether I’d maintained fresh breath all day, I hadn’t received any complaints, so I was willing to chalk that up as a win! Truth was, National 12-Hour Fresh Breath Day seemed more about the absence of bad breath than having breath that smelt pleasant. In either case, I felt like I was treating my smile healthily, which boosted my confidence. Of course, another culprit of bad breath is periodontal disease. I’d have to make sure to schedule a regular visit to my dentist!

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