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Earth Day: Smoking’s Impact on the Environment

Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes is unhealthy. Smokers are more vulnerable to many preventable diseases. Long-term tobacco use results in dental problems, high rates of cancer, heart attack and stroke.

But, did you know smoking tobacco actually has a devastating impact on the environment?

Think about the number of cigarette butts you saw littering the side of the road the last time you took a walk. They’re not just unsightly reminders of someone’s bad habit.  They’re actually toxic waste. A seemingly harmless butt, tossed aside without a second thought, is actually a serious threat to our fragile ecosystem.

One single butt may not seem very threatening, but every year an estimated 1.69 billion pounds of cigarette butts are discarded into the environment worldwide. Tobacco production also consumes 18.6 billion trees each year.

Unfortunately, it gets worse.

Think back to recent reports of massively destructive wildfires raging across the western U.S. Investigators believe many of these fires started when a smoker carelessly disposed of their cigarette butt.

It’s hard to believe one cigarette can have such an impact.  In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported there were 42.1 million smokers in the United States.  All of those cigarettes add up.

If you’re a smoker, consider quitting for your health and the environment’s health.  Your body and Earth will thank you!

Click here to get help quitting today

04.17.14 – Don’t Stress

Don’t Stress: Pass on a Smile

Smiling has been scientifically proven to not only lift the mood of the person smiling, but those who see it as well.

Smiling can decrease stress, help you make friends and actually make you feel better! So, share your smile today. Here’s some material to get you started.

04.15.14 - The Importance of

The Importance of Dental Insurance

With National Healthcare Decisions Day around the corner, it’s time to take a look at your total health. As you review your options for medical coverage, don’t forget to consider your options for dental coverage too. Regular dental visits can actually help you save on dental treatment in the long run.

Some see dental insurance as a luxury, not a necessity and may not purchase it if their employer doesn’t provide it. Dental insurance is very important. Here’s why:

People with dental insurance are more likely to see their dentist regularly.

It’s a fact—only 34% of people without dental insurance report seeing their dentist twice a year or more. These routine check-ups are vital to your dental health. They allow dentists to follow your oral health over time and prevent minor issues from becoming major health problems. Minor changes in the mouth can signal serious problems on the horizon; and regular exams give clues about other health issues too.

Finding a way to get regular dental preventive treatment—exams and cleanings at least once a year—go a long way toward protecting yourself from more expensive and extensive treatments down the road.

Dental care in America is a hot topic. For more information, here’s an objective, in-depth report on the role dental coverage plays in America’s oral health.

Today, as you review your healthcare choices and make decisions, consider adding dental insurance. It’s a small investment that will go far toward maintaining good overall health and a sparkling smile.

M

National Library Week: A Week’s Worth of Wonder

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

Reading is a great way to unwind.  It also allows you to learn new skills, visit exotic lands, or travel space all from the comfort of your favorite chair.  Reading to your children feeds their imagination and contributes to a deeper understating of the world.

In honor of National Library Week, we asked the Tooth Fairy what her favorite books are.  Here’s her list:

  1. Alley Alligator’s Awesome Smile by Timothy E. McNutt D.D.S. – This book is the perfect way to introduce dentistry to your child. It covers all the basics of a dental visit and the information is presented in a clear and non-threatening way.
  2. The Bernstein Bears Visit the Dentist by Jan & Stan Bernstein – This is a cute story about loose teeth and cavities. Read this to your child if he/she has a loose tooth or a cavity that needs to be filled.
  3. The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss –Here’s a fun rhyming book with plenty of information about animals that have teeth and how they use them.
  4. How Many Teeth? by Paul Showers – This is a great book to teach children all about their mouth and why their teeth fall out and how. New ones grow in their place.
  5. The Mixed-Up Tooth Fairy by Keith Faulkner – This is perfect for children who have or are about to lose a tooth.  It tells a tale about the Tooth Fairy looking for the owner of a lost tooth.
  6. Dear Tooth Fairy by Alan Durant – This book answers children’s questions about the Tooth Fairy and why she collects children’s teeth.
  7. Sam’s Science: I Know Why I Brush My Teeth by Kate Rowan – This is an informational book about the importance of keeping your mouth clean with good oral hygiene habits.

There you have it —the Tooth Fairy’s favorite books to help you teach your child about good oral health, a key to good overall health.

4.8.14 - Baseball and Chew

Baseball and Chew: A changing relationship

The history of tobacco in our country is quite interesting—especially the connection between baseball and chewing tobacco.

Our relationship with tobacco began when Native Americans introduced it to European settlers. It was readily available, easy to grow, and hailed for its medicinal qualities.  As a result, tobacco quickly became an economic staple in the colonies.

By the early 20th century, smokeless tobacco, also referred to chew or dip, was the most popular choice of tobacco users.  When machinery made cigarette production faster and more affordable, many tobacco users switched to smoking.

Major League Baseball (MLB) players had concerns about the health risks of smoking. The lure of smokeless tobacco was based on an assumption that it was safer than cigarettes, so many players turned to chew to get their nicotine fix.

Chew played many roles for major leaguers in the early years by helping in-fielders fight dry-mouth in dusty conditions and providing a sticky substance when spit into gloves which helped them catch the ball.

Before the dangers of smokeless tobacco were truly known, many famous players died from tobacco-related illnesses. Babe Ruth died of throat cancer and Yogi Berra was a victim of mouth cancer.

In 1993, MLB intervened by prohibiting players and coaches from using tobacco during games, on the field, or in the dugout. Some players took a stance against it. Former Mariner shortstop Alex Rodriguez made a public service announcement against the use of chewing tobacco in 1996.  By 2011, MLB banned its use during pre- and post-game interviews.

Today many baseball players understand the health risks and realize there’s nothing cool about chewing. People who chew are more likely to develop cancers of the tongue, lip, cheek and throat. Its use also leads to high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and mouth sores that can become cancerous.

If you dip or chew, you can find more information on the dangers of tobacco use and get help quitting here.

4.3.14 - Jose, Jack, Johnnie

Jose, Jack, Johnnie and …Tooth Decay?

Yep, that’s right. The fourth horseman you might be inviting to your happy hour could be a cavity.

Heading out with friends or coworkers for a drink after work is a great way to network, build relationships and unwind after a busy day. However, alcohol consumption, especially in large amounts, can greatly affect your dental health.

How does alcohol damage your smile?

The sugar in alcoholic drinks combines with natural bacteria in your mouth to form an acid.  This acid attacks and breaks down enamel.  Longer, more frequent exposure to sugar, like alcohol, causes erosion which can lead to tooth decay.

Alcohol also dries your mouth which decreases saliva. Saliva is your body’s natural defense against tooth decay because it washes away harmful bacteria. Dry mouth can accelerate the damage caused by the sugar in alcohol.

For heavy drinkers, the probability of damage from drinking is much higher. In fact, people with alcohol abuse problems are at greater risk of developing cancer in the mouth, throat and esophagus.

Heavy drinking can cause:

  • Irritation of the gum, tongue and oral tissues
  • Poor healing after dental surgery
  • Poor dental health habits
  • Increase in tooth decay
  • Increased risk for periodontal (gum) disease
  • Increased risk for oral cancer

Don’t let alcohol ruin your teeth. Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. Rinse your mouth with water or brush and floss once you’ve had a drink to help keep your smile healthy.

Quit smoking

Tobacco user? It’s the month to quit!

If you smoke or use tobacco, this is the perfect month to consider quitting. April is lung  and oral cancer awareness month.  Tobacco greatly impacts your overall health and puts your dental health in jeopardy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in every 5 deaths is linked to tobacco use. That’s over 443,000 tobacco related deaths a year.

It gets worse.

The CDC also reports:

  • Nine out of 10 people (90%) who die from lung cancer were cigarette smokers
  • More than 80% of people who die from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were smokers
  • Smokers are more likely to suffer from heart disease, stroke and cancer than those who don’t smoke
  • Roughly 8.6 million people live with serious illnesses caused first or secondhand tobacco

Tobacco use is also bad for your oral health.  In addition to bad breath and stained teeth, it greatly increases your risk of developing tooth decay, tooth loss, gum disease and oral cancer.

So don’t be a fool! Quit now. Click here to learn more about how smoking is bad for your teeth and gums.  Visit smokefree.gov for help quitting.

3.27.14 - Dental Care for Children with Clefts

Dental Care for Children with Clefts

Every day 17 kids are born with a cleft lip, palate or both in the United States.  A cleft lip or palette is a birth defect that requires special care to ensure oral health needs are met.

The Problem

A cleft lip or palate can cause numerous dental problems for a child.  A cleft lip or palate greatly affects the size, shape and position of the teeth in the cleft areas which can make oral hygiene tricky.  Another common problem is that the enamel their teeth is weaker which makes them vulnerable to cavities. Their salvia is often thicker which prevents the natural cleansing of the mouth.

Dental Care Solution

Due to the special dental needs of a child with a cleft, it’s good to get an early evaluation by a dentist who’s experienced in treating such cases.

Regular brushing with the help of a soft bristle brush and flossing are essential for good oral care.  Your dentist will instruct you on oral hygiene and preventive measures for your child.

Early orthodontic evaluation is also recommended. They will assess facial growth and growth of the jaws.  This information is important in developing short- and long-term dental plans for your child.

If any surgical procedure is planned to correct the cleft lip and palate, ensure there’s good coordination between the surgeon and orthodontist so required dental procedures are taken care of at the time of surgery. Prosthodontic care can also help make a huge difference in eating, speaking and appearance.

The way to healthy teeth, for anyone, is a combination of proper cleaning at home, good nutrition and regular dental check-ups.  Children with clefts are no different.  Their care simply requires more planning.

For more information, check out CLAPA.

Portrait of female wearing labcoat

Dentists and Diabetes: An Unlikely Pair

Today is American Diabetes Alert Day.  The American Diabetes Association created this day to generate diabetes awareness.  It’s a day where they ask everyone to take their diabetes risk test to determine their risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Recently, there’s been a great deal of research surrounding the connection between oral health and diabetes.  Here’s some information regarding this serious condition and the link it has with oral health.

Researchers believe people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing gum disease than those without.*

The silver lining on this cloud is research also found that those with diabetes who controlled their blood sugar more effectively often reduced their chance of developing gum disease.

Researchers also discovered that treating gum disease can help control your blood sugar.  This is great news because now we know taking care of your blood sugar helps your gum disease and taking care of your gum disease helps control your blood sugar.

It‘s a two way street - one affects the other.

Being aware of these connections might help reduce the problems you encounter with diabetes, gum disease or both!

In fact, keeping your gums healthy might help prevent diabetes all together…or at least delay it.

So, use today, American Diabetes Alert Day, as an opportunity to make the decision to take better care of your teeth and gums in order to promote your overall health.

Are you at risk for diabetes? Take this Diabetes Risk Test from the American Diabetes Association to find out.

*“Oral and General Health – Exploring the Connection.” Associations Between Gum Disease and Diabetes. Web. 14 Mar. 2012.

Happy summery girl

Spring Break: Don’t take a spring break from your oral health routine

Spring Break is the best time to do just that—take a break!  It’s the perfect time to relax.  However, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a break from your oral health routine.

Why Take Care of Your Teeth on Spring Break?

Studies have revealed that plaque, which is at the root of dental diseases, starts forming immediately after we eat. Within an hour, there is enough to measure it. Within 4-9 days, the plaque becomes fully mature, and the groundwork for a cavity is ready. So save your teeth and smile this Spring Break.

Things To Remember:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day.
  • Drink plenty of water—especially after a meal.  Drinking water after meals helps reduce plaque formation.
  • Cut back on sugar and starch. Sugar plus bacteria equals plaque. Consuming starchy food results in an acid bath that erodes enamel.
  • Consume foods that are firm or crisp. They are nature’s toothbrushes. For best results, eat them as the final food.
  • Chew sugarless gum after a meal, especially gum that contains the natural sweetener xylitol.  This increases the flow of saliva, which in turn washes away harmful acids.  Don’t snack often or sip sugary drinks all day long, especially soda and sport drinks. They contain acids that erode tooth enamel.
  • Try a cup of sugarless tea instead of coffee.  Tea has flavonoids that prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to teeth, and fluorides that are also good for teeth.  Green tea is best.

Keep these things in mind and enjoy your spring break guilt- and cavity-free!