Monthly Archives: November 2016

When You Should Go To Dentist

Your dentist says your pearly whites should be inspected twice a year; your colleague in the next cubicle goes three times annually; and your best friend sees the dentist just once a year. So what gives? How often do you really need to get a check up?

Dr. Cliff Swanlund, president-elect of the Alberta Dental Association, says there is no “right” number of dental visits per year. Surprisingly, how often you need to go may have little to do with your teeth, but rather the gum tissue and supporting bone. “For people without decay problems, once a year is fine,” says Swanlund, who has a dental practice in Calgary. “Others who are prone to periodontal problems may require checking or cleaning every three to four months.”

These more frequent cleanings remove built-up plaque, the daily debris that we keep under control with proper brushing. Plaque can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria that cause periodontal or gum disease, an infection of the tissue that holds your teeth in place. With time, teeth may loosen and be in danger of falling out. Smoking, systemic diseases including diabetes, pregnancy, and the use of oral contraceptives can all increase the risk of gum disease. If your gums bleed when you clean your teeth, or are tender, swollen or red, see a dentist immediately.

Timing of dentist visits can also be driven by your benefits package, if you have one. “There are people I want to see every six months, but their coverage is every nine months so they ask to stretch the check-ups out a bit,” says Swanlund. “But it isn’t wise to let insurance dictate treatment.”

With growing evidence linking oral health with general health, only you and your dentist can determine how many visits are best. As a general rule, go a minimum of once per year, but more frequently if you have specific problems. However, if you feel you are going too often, get a second opinion. Swanlund’s best tip for reducing trips to the dental chair? Keep on flossing.

Tips To Choose The Right Toothbrush

Start with the bristles. The designs—flat, rippled, dome-shaped, and more—come down to personal choice. But most dental professionals recommend soft brushes, which work best for removing plaque and debris, and are less harsh on your teeth and gums.

There are also alternatives for brush heads (e.g. rectangular or tapered) and handles (e.g. different grips and flexible necks). Again, it’s a matter of preference. Go with any brush that feels comfortable and whose head is small enough to reach all areas of your mouth, right to the back teeth. “If the head is too big, it’s hard to manipulate,” says Euan Swan, manager of dental programs for the Canadian Dental Association.

For people with orthodontic appliances and other dental work, specialty tools can clean hard-to-reach places and get under bridgework, augmenting regular brushing. (Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist.) Other brushes can wrap around braces, but what’s most important is cleaning thoroughly and getting between the braces and the gum line, says Dr. Bob Cram, an orthodontist in Red Deer, Alta., and president of the Canadian Association of Orthodontists.

“Don’t get hung up on the design—just get in there and scrub,” says Cram.

Plugging In
Should you power up? Power brushes can make for a less labour-intensive and more consistent brushing motion, and allow for oscillation and rotation that you simply can’t perform with your own hand, notes Dr. Maryam Adibfar, a Toronto dentist. These brushes can also be ideal for people who, due to a disability or limited manual dexterity, have trouble handling a manual brush.

Do power brushes work better than manual brushes? Adibfar swears by them, but to use an analogy, consider a poor golfer who buys a fancy driver. Chances are, the ball still ends up in the woods. Whatever the features—power or manual, bristle or handle design, timers or sensors—what matters most is technique. Spend two to three minutes at it, use a gentle, circular motion, and clean every surface of every tooth.

“If you take the time and brush properly,” says Swan, “any brush will get the job done.”

Tips To Moves Can Influence Your Moods

The mind-body connection is so powerful that our faces convey our thoughts, even when we try to mask them. Knowing that, researchers have trained doctors, spies and CEOs to read “micro expressions,” the fleeting emotions we broadcast.

Can we influence wellness by thinking about the mind-body connection in the opposite way?

Research has repeatedly shown that body movements and facial expressions can change how we interpret the world around us. In one 2003 study, scientists at Ohio State University and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid told participants they were there to test headphones in order to trick them into nodding or shaking their heads while they listened to an editorial. Participants who were asked to shake their heads in disapproval were less convinced by poor arguments, while the participants who were asked to nod to signal approval were more convinced by the strong ones.

Richard Petty, a co-author of that study, advises people to nod as they rehearse positivity and shake their heads if negativity creeps in. “Some people think positive thoughts, but they don’t have confidence in them,” he says. “Sit up straight, nod your head and you can almost feel it. It’s like, ‘This is right.’”

Recently, scientists have begun to study how whole-body movements can transform mood. In a 2010 study led by researchers at Columbia and Harvard universities, 42 participants were asked to hold either expansive poses associated with power or constricted poses associated with powerlessness.
(One power pose involved standing and leaning forward against a desk with hands shoulder-width apart and palms down; one powerless pose involved standing with feet crossed and arms in a self-hug.)

After just two minutes in those stances, there were psychological changes: the power posers felt more powerful and took more risks in a gambling game. But there were also physical changes: the subjects who adopted powerless poses had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and lower levels of testosterone.

If standing tall and smiling big alter confidence and happiness, then why not use them to boost your confidence? Harvard Business School researcher Amy Cuddy, a co-author of the 2010 study, points out that power poses get results all over the animal kingdom. For humans, she recommends standing straight with feet apart and your hands on your hips, Wonder Woman-style, or leaning back in a chair with legs straight and your arms behind your head. Whatever the pose, take up some space and convey a sense of well-being.