#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.  

From the Goodness of the Tooth: Could Your Mouth Put You at Risk for Heart Disease?

by MikeMeehan 2/23/2017 9:45 AM

February could be called the month of the heart. And the way we treat our mouths might affect the health of our hearts. If you’re looking to improve your health, you might want to start with these six habits.... more...

How to Enjoy Football without Hurting Your Smile

by MikeMeehan 2/2/2017 1:01 PM

Are you ready for some football? The big game is this Sunday, with the New England Patriots facing off against the Atlanta Falcons. If you’re at all like us, you might wonder why football players smear eye black (a glob of grease) under their eyes (to reduce the glare of stadium lights, which helps them see an airborne ball better). Actually, we’ll probably be doing what you’re doing: gathering with friends to scarf down healthy snacks, like stuffed mushrooms and guacamole nachos. Heads up: If you’re looking to make something new and aren’t already following us on Facebook, you can find plenty of healthy recipes there, which we post every Wednesday. Oh, and during the big game, some of the commercials will be pretty great, too. Football can be fun to watch, and it can also be fun to play. While the sport comes with many rewards, it can, unfortunately, be dangerous to your eyes and teeth. Are the Risks of Football Worth the Rewards? Some of the rewards of football include: 1.     It improves fitness. Football improves aerobic capacity and cardiovascular health. It combines slow and fast movements with sprinting, which gets the heart pumping at different paces. This increases overall fitness. It can also increase bone and muscle strength. 2.     It can decrease stress. When you play football, dopamine is released in your brain. This can make you happier and more relaxed. 3.     It can help you sleep better. This is also due to dopamine in the brain. 4.     You can learn teamwork skills. You play football on a team. To get the ball down the field, you have to execute a play, which requires everyone to cooperate. 5.     You can make quick decisions. Because football is such a fast-paced sport, you have to sharpen your reflexes. 6.     It can build confidence. After seeing the gains from the game, football can encourage you to pursue and achieve other goals. However, football is one of the more dangerous sports when it comes to teeth and eye safety. It is a game of many collisions — from the offense trying to block the defense to a defender tackling a receiver. Any of these, especially if a collision ends up being head-on, can cause damage to teeth and eyes. Four Reasons Football Injuries Can Be Devastating Losing teeth or sustaining eye injuries can have serious consequences. Here’s why: 1.     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. 2.     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. 3.     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. 4.     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: 1.     Always wear a football helmet. A football helmet has a face mask, which can protect both your eyes and teeth. 2.     Wear sports goggles. Sports goggles can offer added protection to the eyes where the cracks in the wire mesh of a face mask might not. 3.     Wear a mouth guard. A mouth guard can protect your teeth, tongue, lips, cheeks, and jaw. Football, 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!

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