How My Power Walk Turned into a Power Smile

by MikeMeehan 4/5/2017 4:00 PM

I was fortunate enough to get out for a hike, recently. And the whole time, I couldn’t stop smiling. Despite the burning muscles in my legs, the rustling trees, the blooming yellow flowers and the invigorating air, lifted my spirits and encouraged me to keep going. Power walking turned into a power smile. The connection between a walk and a smile Here at Delta Dental, we emphasize the link between oral health and overall health. So, we are happy to celebrate National Walking Day, this week, and bring attention to this connection. An unhealthy mouth can increase the risk of health problems. But a healthy mouth can keep you healthy and keep you walking. The Message of National Walking Day The American Heart Association sponsors National Walking Day on Wednesday, April 5, to remind us of the health benefits of walking. Research shows that walking at least 30 minutes a day has many benefits like reducing your risk of heart disease and improving your mental well-being. Whether you are walking, hiking, biking, or partaking in any exercise, your oral health can be a part of your overall healthy lifestyle choices. What to bring on your walk or hike Remember to pack a water bottle (hydration is good for the mouth), a smile-friendly apple for a snack, and sunglasses to protect your eyes. One good decision leads to another I can’t take credit for having the willpower to get out there for a power walk; it was an invitation from a friend that encouraged me. But the decision to go, led to another decision to eat salad this week for lunch, and another decision to plan to hike again in a few weeks. It led me to find more hiking and walking trails near me. It gave me energy to make other healthy choices. And those healthy lifestyle choices include good oral health habits. We say “Good health starts here.” So good health starts with a healthy smile and one foot in front of the other.  

Live Mouth Smart: How to Advocate World Oral Health Day 2017

by MikeMeehan 3/20/2017 1:20 PM

Today, the FDI World Dental Federation wants to educate people on how to Live Mouth Smart. And no, “mouth smart” is not the same as a “smart mouth.” Live Mouth Smart is the theme for World Oral Health Day 2017. World Oral Health Day launched in 2013. Organized by the FDI World Dental Federation, the day raises awareness of the importance of good oral health, as well as the connection between oral health and overall health.   The FDI World Dental Federation distributed a guide for policymakers with five calls to action for the day. And while the day is geared toward advocacy, it does contain useful tips for you to advocate for your own oral health. Why You Want to Advocate for Your Own Oral Health It’s a saying we’ve shared before: You can’t spell overall without oral. As in, oral health directly affects overall wellness. Based on some of the worldwide statistics released by the FDI World Dental Foundation, many of us are struggling with our health. Oral health affects 3.9 billion people globally, with untreated tooth decay impacting almost half of the world’s population (44 percent). Throughout the world, between 60 and 90 percent of schoolchildren and nearly 100 percent of adults have tooth decay, which often leads to pain and discomfort. Severe gum disease is found in 15 to 20 percent of middle-aged (35- to 44-year-old) adults. In the United States, $110 billion is spent annually on oral healthcare. And this isn’t to mention the serious gaps in epidemiological data, especially in low- and middle-income countries, due to oral health not being integrated in national disease surveillance. While it may require policymakers to change the way we report oral health globally, oral health is anything but out of our court. Four Simple Ideas to Boost Your Health this World Oral Health Day 2017 Here are four ways you can advocate for your own oral health: Eat healthy. The FDI World Dental Foundation defines a healthy diet primarily as one low in sugar, as sugar is the leading risk factor for tooth decay. But you don’t have to make healthy eating about avoiding certain foods. Lots of healthy options are delicious. Foods rich in calcium and phosphorous — like hard aged cheese, seafood, almonds and pumpkin seeds — can help restore enamel. Hard, crunchy foods that contain lots of water — like celery — can gently scrub and clean teeth surfaces, removing plaque and food particles. Foods rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants — berries, broccoli and beans — can help clean gums. If you need any help, follow us on Facebook for a new healthy recipe every Wednesday. Say NO to tobacco. Tobacco use in all forms is harmful to health, including oral health. Globally, it’s the leading preventable cause of death and disease. Moderate. While an occasional glass of wine may actually be good for you, excessive alcohol use can lead to periodontal disease. Apply fluoride. Fluoride can prevent tooth decay, reverse the process of early decay and remineralize enamel. You also have several options about how you might apply it: Add it to water, salt or milk. To check to see if fluoride’s been added to your tap water, go to this website, which is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If the tap water is fluoridated, you can learn about the fluoride concentration as well. Have it prescribed as a gel, varnish or tablet. Contact your doctor about this method. Use toothpaste or mouth rinse. Check the ingredients in your toothpaste or mouth rinse to ensure it contains fluoride. By following these four simple ideas, you can advocate for your own oral health. You might also want to check out these resources from World Oral Health Day, including a brochure, posters and social media material you can download.  

#ikickbutts — Stand Against the Harmful Effects of Smoking on Teeth and Eyes

by MikeMeehan 3/15/2017 11:02 AM

Set cups in a schoolyard fence. Host an online training course. Chalk statistics onto a sidewalk. These are some of the activities suggested for National Kick Butts Day. The day seeks to empower youth to stand against tobacco use by participating in activism at their high school or college. In addition to the activism of this day, we’d like to draw attention to what might not be as common knowledge: the harmful effects tobacco and smoking have on the mouth and eyes. 7 Ways Tobacco Products Can Hurt the Mouth Tobacco products can hurt your mouth in a handful of ways. They can lead to: Bad breath. Nicotine inhibits the body’s ability to produce saliva, and a dry mouth can cause bad breath. Yellowed teeth. The two main culprits that yellow teeth in tobacco products are nicotine and tar. Even though nicotine is colorless, it turns yellow when exposed to oxygen. Gum disease. Nicotine deprives the gums of nutrients and oxygen, which can cause gums to recede. In some cases, tobacco users also experience bleeding or swollen gums. But that’s not it. According to the American Dental Association, the impact of tobacco products on your mouth also includes: Stained tongue Dulled sense of taste and smell Slow healing after a tooth extraction or other surgery Difficulties in correcting cosmetic dental problems Tobacco products can also lead to oral cancer. Why Oral Cancer Screening Is Important The Delta Dental Plans Association has released studies showing smokers are six times as likely to develop oral cancer as nonsmokers. Delta Dental follows the recommendations of The American Cancer Society — that your dentist or primary care doctor check your mouth and throat for oral cancer as part of a routine checkup. The process for screening is simple. Your dentist looks in your mouth for early signs of cancer. Tell your dentist about any swelling, sores, or discoloring around your mouth, lips, or throat. Screening is important for the following reasons: Close to 49,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer in 2017, according to The Oral Cancer Foundation. According to the foundation, oral cancer will cause close to 10,000 deaths in the U.S. On average, only 60 percent of those with the disease will live more than five years after being diagnosed, according to the Delta Dental Plans Association. By quitting tobacco use, smokers can cut their risk in half in just five years. After 10 years, former smokers have the same risk as people who never used tobacco. 6 Ways Tobacco Products Can Harm the Eyes Not only do tobacco products affect teeth, they can affect eyesight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two of the greatest threats are cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Cataracts. Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s lens, which affects your ability to focus. According to the New York State Department of Health, heavy smokers (15 cigarettes a day or more) have up to three times the risk of cataract as nonsmokers. Age-related macular degeneration (or AMD). AMD causes loss in the center of field of vision. Smokers are three to four times more likely to develop AMD than nonsmokers, according to the New York State Department of Health. Smoking also increases the risk for: Glaucoma Diabetic retinopathy Uveitis (an inflammation of the part of the eye called the uvea) Dry eye syndrome (a condition in which a person either doesn’t produce enough tears or produces tears that evaporate too quickly) Never Too Late to Quit Nobody wants a discolored smile or to see the world through blurry lenses. If you are using tobacco, it’s not too late to quit today. By quitting, you can prevent gum disease and/or improve the condition of your gums, as well as lower your chances of eye disease. Tomorrow is National Kick Butts Day. Many high schools, college campuses and other organizations around the nation will participate. You can participate by using the hashtag #ikickbutts.  


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