Improve Your Brushing Technique

by MikeMeehan 5/1/2017 2:30 PM

When it comes to dental hygiene, brushing and flossing are some of the most important routines for your smile, yet they could possibly use a little improvement. Why You Need to Brush Twice a Day Brushing and flossing can remove plaque, tartar and stains. These three culprits can cause problems of all sorts: • Cavities • Gum disease, like gingivitis or periodontitis • Weakened tooth enamel, making teeth more susceptible to chips or cracks Conditions like these can wreak havoc on your smile. But the issues don’t stop there. Bad oral health doesn’t just put you at risk for cavities, gum disease, and weakened tooth enamel; it can increase risks for serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Follow these steps to ensure that you are brushing properly. Six Steps for Better Brushing 1. Place your toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle to the gumline 2. Use just enough pressure to feel bristles against your gums and between teeth. Don’t squish the bristles 3. Brush all inner and outer tooth surfaces several times, using short, circular strokes. Be sure to brush along the gumline as well 4. Brush chewing surfaces straight on. Clean the inside surfaces of front teeth by tilting the brush vertically and making up-and-down strokes with the front of the brush 5. Clean only one or two teeth at a time 6. Brush your tongue, as oral bacteria can remain in taste buds By following these brushing techniques, you will keep your smile healthy and help improve your overall health

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!

Sugar Awareness Week: How to Triumph a Sugar-Free Diet

by MikeMeehan 1/20/2017 2:16 PM

You might have joined us earlier as we participated in Sugar Awareness Week. Our useful posts are still available on Facebook. Eating excessively sugary foods can cause tooth decay. But the right diet can lead to a healthy smile. This journal details what that diet might look like, as well as the challenges that might come along. Day 1 Shopping for groceries, I began weighing what parts of my diet would work in my favor against what would work against me: One favor — I didn’t drink soda regularly. And against me — Well, I still had a box of cookies in my pantry. I was participating in Sugar Awareness Week, which meant I had to give up sugar for an entire work week. The purpose, however, wasn’t to completely eliminate all sugar. I needed it to maintain proper blood sugar levels. The purpose was to eliminate refined sugars. At the store, the fresh foods (meat, fruits and vegetables) were easy. But for the others, I had to eye the nutritional information. Sugar goes by a lot of different names, so I made a list to watch out for. All in all, the first day wasn’t too bad. But I’d read accounts from people who’d accepted the challenge. “Just wait till the second day,” a lot of them had said. Day 2 By the start of Day 2, I’d already started to notice a difference. The night before, I’d gone to bed at 10:30, earlier than usual. Generally, it takes about 20 minutes to fall asleep, but I fell asleep right away. Then, this morning, when the alarm went off, I felt wide awake, whereas it typically takes about 20 minutes for the grogginess to lift. However, as I went through the day, I began to experience withdrawal symptoms. By mid-afternoon, I had a headache. It felt similar to going too long without coffee. Other symptoms, I had read, could include tiredness, lightheadedness, muscle aches and/or cramps. The best place to start, I figured, was to recognize the cause for craving. Was it boredom, stress or something deeper? This was difficult to identify. I’ve always known I had a sweet tooth; I just believed I had it relatively under control. I’d once made a pack of cake squares last for a month, and I still had bags of candy bars left from Halloween. Despite this, I was not exempt from the effects of refined sugars. Day 3 Waking up today, the headache from yesterday had subsided. But by the afternoon, the cravings had returned. Not only did I find myself craving snacks I knew had a lot of sugar — ice cream run, anyone? — I craved simple carbohydrates, like white bread. The reason, I learned, is simple carbohydrates turn into sugar quickly once they’re in the digestive process. That evening, friends came over, and we played board games. This helped distract me from the cravings. Another recommended way to fight cravings is to keep a journal. Lucky for me, I’m writing a blog. Day 4 This morning, I didn’t have time to prepare eggs, so I settled for an apple, a banana and broccoli, which I munched in the office. Yum. Actually, as I bit into the banana, I was surprised. It tasted sweeter than a banana had ever tasted before. I almost felt like I was cheating, as if I were biting into a sugar cube. Even the banana’s body seemed to glisten with what looked like sugar crystals. Maybe four days without refined sugar had made me crazy. Or perhaps my body had officially adapted to a diet of no refined sugar. Years of eating refined sugar, it seemed, had tempered my taste buds’ perception of sweetness in fruit. I expected the cravings to return by afternoon, because they’d struck the past two days around then. Come 3:30 p.m., they still hadn’t. Regardless, I made sure to drink lots of water, as water can help with the cravings. Without enough water in our system, we can start to feel tired. Our tendency, oftentimes, is to waken ourselves with sugar. By 4 p.m., I’d drunk about 105 ounces of water. In the evening, a friend invited me to dinner. When the server approached the table, I asked him if he knew which items contained hidden sugars. He didn’t. What about a list of nutritional information? As it turns out, not too many people ask about hidden sugars in their food. The server offered to do some sleuthing, but I just ordered a burger with provel cheese and no bun, and as a side, mashed potatoes. Biting into the burger, I tasted pepper. A seasoning had been applied, and seasonings are often hidden-sugar culprits. But I was also hungry, so I was willing to risk it. The burger was delicious. Day 5 At the office, somebody dropped off an assortment of sweets: Christmas tree cakes and brownies, lollipops. Normally, I wouldn’t have been able to ignore them. Today, I ate a banana instead. Another friend suggested we do lunch. This time, I had enough advance notice to research online the menus of nearby restaurants. Even some healthy options, like salads, I found, contained sugar — usually thanks to the dressings. Nevertheless, I found a sugar-free option — a sub sandwich wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun — and suggested we go there. By the afternoon, the office sweets began to bother me. I distracted myself with a quick physical activity, strolling the perimeter of the building. As I completed the work week, I had a new respect for sugar awareness. I’d felt the effects of refined sugar in my system, and I hadn’t even realized it was a problem! For the future, I doubt I’ll be as rigorous (like, I’ll probably get a bun on my next hamburger), but I’ll keep an eye open for hidden sugars. Of course, one thing won’t change: I’ll keep brushing twice and flossing daily!

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