Americans Want to See Their Dentist More, Survey Finds

by MikeMeehan 1/9/2017 1:14 PM

Americans want to see their dentist more. At least that’s according to this recent survey, the Adult Oral Health Survey, which sampled 1,025 Americans 18 years and older. The results found 41 percent of Americans don’t visit the dentist as often as they’d like. Among health practitioners listed, dentists ranked at the top. In fact, the second-place practitioner was 13 percentage points lower: dermatologists, at 28 percent. This might be good news, after a Gallup poll from 2014 indicated one-third of Americans hadn’t visited the dentist in the past year. Likewise, the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute reported most adults planned to visit the dentist in 2017 (77 percent), yet only a limited number had made the trip in 2015 (37 percent). Studies have shown a link between good oral health and overall well-being, as well as boosts in confidence. Both were indicated in The Adult Oral Health Survey. According to the survey, 79 percent of adults believe there is a connection between oral health and overall health. Adults who were extremely satisfied with their oral health rated their overall well-being as very good (48 percent), compared to those who were not satisfied (28 percent). And 63 percent reported good oral health helped them feel confident on a daily basis. This outranked contenders like having clear skin (56 percent) and being in shape (50 percent). Those who gave their oral health an “A” grade were 24 percent less likely to put the dentist at the top of the list of practitioners they wished to see more. Only 28 percent of adults who brush twice a day reported they didn’t see their dentist as much as they’d like, compared to 52 percent who brush less than twice a day. The Adult Oral Health Survey was conducted between December 16, 2015, and January 14, 2016, among a nationally representative sample, with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.

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?  

The Effects of Stress on Your Smile

by MikeMeehan 12/7/2016 3:04 PM

It seems like stress is everywhere, especially as 2016 winds down. For many people, the holiday season promises higher levels of stress — shopping, decorating, baking, cleaning, entertaining…the list goes on. And this doesn’t even cover day-to-day stresses we may encounter at work and/or at home. Stress has a lot of negative effects on the body, from high blood pressure and cholesterol to heart disease. It’s also tough on the teeth. The Role of Stress on the Body To understand the role of stress on teeth, let’s start with the role of stress on the body. Stress is defined as “A state of mental or emotional strain resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.” This strain comes about when the brain perceives a threat. As the brain processes the threat, it decides one of three reactions: fight, flee or freeze. Once that decision is made, the pituitary gland releases adrenaline and cortisol into the system. Depending on the circumstances, the hormones might get released even if the body isn’t experiencing a real threat. Or the hormone might release continually. When this happens, it can have negative effects on the body, especially on teeth. Five Ways Stress Is Bad for Oral Health 1.     Stress increases risk for gum disease. Stress hurts the body’s ability to deal with infections, including gum disease. 2.    Stress makes us more susceptible to dental cavities. When we have more cortisol in our systems, our bodies produce acid. Our overall pH-balance influences our health. The scale ranges from 1 to 14, with 1 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. Ideally, we want a concentration between 7.35 and 7.45. Too much stress, however, leans us toward acidic. To compensate, the body draws minerals out of bones and teeth. Not only does stress automatically make our bodies more acidic, we tend to cope by increasing our use of products like caffeine, sugar and alcohol, which can affect our mood and sleep. Plus, sugar and alcohol can also contribute to tooth decay, and several caffeinated products can stain teeth. 3.    Stress can lead to bruxism. Higher levels of stress may cause you to clench or grind your teeth at night. This clenching or grinding is called bruxism. Symptoms could include waking up with a headache on a regular basis and experiencing tooth sensitivity, due to enamel rubbing off. If you are suffering from bruxism, you might want to wear a mouth guard when you go to sleep. 4.    Stress can cause temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD). The temporomandibular joint joins the jaw to the skull. TMJD also represents the muscles used to move the jaw. If you feel jaw joint pain or you catch your jaw popping or clicking, TMJD may be the cause. Depending on how severe it is, you might need to consult your dentist to relax your jaw muscles. If it’s not too severe, watch more funny movies, as laughter can relax muscles. 5.    Stress can cause canker sores. These small lesions form on the soft tissues inside your mouth. They are self-treatable, non-contagious and usually go away after two weeks.   Six Easy Steps to Alleviate Stress Nobody would say stress is good, but most people probably don’t realize just how devastating it can be. To alleviate stress, practice these six simple techniques. 1.     Sleep. Your body needs at least seven to nine hours of sleep a night. If you’re under a lot of stress, you may want to consider being more mindful of your bedtime. When the sun sets, put all technology away (computer, smartphone, TV) and focus on rest. 2.    Eat nutritiously. Remember what we said earlier about caffeine, sugar and alcohol — how it can make the body more acidic? A nutritious diet can alkalize your body and give you more energy. 3.    Exercise. Thirty minutes of consistent exercise a day can reduce blood pressure, improve heart health and put you in a better mood. 4.    Meditate. “If you are depressed, you live in the past,” said Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher. “If you are anxious, you live in the future. If you are happy, you live in the present.” Most stress, it appears, comes from living too much in the past or future. By meditating, you can begin to train your mind to focus on the present. 5.    Brush twice a day and floss daily. We’ve written before “You can’t spell overall without oral.” As in, oral health directly affects overall wellness. If stress is threatening your wellness, you can respond by maintaining a consistent brushing and flossing routine. 6.    Visit your dentist every six months. Don’t go through stress alone. By visiting your dentist, you’re more likely to catch some of these negative effects before they become bigger problems. While we’d all prefer to live in a stress-free world, it’s not always possible. By practicing these techniques, you can hopefully alleviate stress and maintain your beautiful smile.

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