Tag Archives: dentist

An App for Better Dental Health

Long View: Dialing In to Better Dental Health

I have a confession to make. My toothbrush talks to my cellphone, and I’m pretty much OK with that. I’ve brushed my teeth well over 36,000 times in my time on this planet, and suddenly now, in my 50th year, I need my phone to tell me if I’ve been doing it correctly.

Having good teeth is a genetic gift I inherited from my grandmother. She grew up in an era before there was fluoride in the drinking water, and her father didn’t believe in traditional medicine. I wonder if she ever even went to the dentist as a child. And yet, when she passed away, well into her 90s, she didn’t have a single cavity.

I’m lucky to have inherited her teeth DNA. I’ve only had two cavities in my life and both came after a pregnancy and were so shallow I didn’t even need Novocain. So they don’t count.

This is good news because I have a very low gag threshold and can’t stand having any kind of metal dental instrument in my mouth. Just getting X-rays at the dentist once a year is traumatic for me. I have to give myself a pep talk while biting down. “Just breathe and don’t throw up, just breathe and don’t throw up.” If I had to withstand anything more exotic than a quick cleaning, the dentist would probably have to sedate me.

Getting back to my talking toothbrush, thanks to Bluetooth technology, an app on my phone tells me if I’m brushing long enough, too hard, too soft, or not long enough in a certain area. How my phone knows this is pure sorcery in my opinion, but I’m taking my phone’s advice and trying to do a better job of brushing. After all, good oral hygiene is a part of our overall health and well-being.

In my line of work, I get a lot of feedback from seniors on Medicare. Time and time again, one of their questions is, “How am I going to pay for my dental care?” This is a valid question because original Medicare does not pay for dental care. Without purchasing a separate dental insurance policy, the expenses of cleanings, X-rays, cavities, root canals, crowns, partials or even dentures must come out of your own pocket. (Whew, just typing those procedures made me queasy.)

Some people get to remain on their company’s dental insurance policy when they retire. Others will decide to purchase private dental insurance as part of their overall retirement health insurance expenses. Many people that don’t have these options are kind of left wondering what to do now.

There are many Medicare Advantage plans that offer members a set-amount dental benefit along with medical coverage to help offset some of the expense of dental care. It won’t provide as extensive of coverage as a private dental insurance policy does, but the benefit does help offset some (or all if you have teeth like my grandmother’s) expenses of good dental care.

If keeping your pearly whites in working order is a priority for you but the extra expense of full-blown dental insurance isn’t, a Medicare Advantage plan might be a solution. While you’re at it, you can consider looking into one of those high-tech toothbrushes like mine. As your mother always told you, the best dental care starts with good brushing habits.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Cooking Together for a Healthy Diet at Any Age

A Healthy Diet as You Age

National Nutrition Month has been going on all March long. And while it would be great for everyone to commit to a healthy diet,  it’s harder for some people to bounce back from bad food choices than it is for others.

For older adults, those sugary and salty snacks can add up to a problem quickly. But you can help certain problems that get worse with age by making smart food decisions when you’re young and even when you’re older.

Eating better can make a huge difference in your overall health. Studies show a healthy diet can reduce the risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Here are some things for older adults and their caregivers to keep in mind.

1. Choose healthy foods that help you eat a balanced diet, and always drink plenty of water. Foods and drinks with empty calories, like soda and chips, don’t do you any favors nutritionally and don’t help you feel full.

2. Your food choices affect your entire body. Choosing whole grains, fiber, fruits, and vegetables and drinking plenty of water can help you stay regular and keep good digestive health.

3. If you have a specific medical condition, make sure you check with your doctor about foods you should include, like foods high in calcium, or things you should avoid, like those high in salt.

4. Don’t let your teeth or dentures stand in the way of eating meat, fruits, or vegetables. Visit your dentist to check for problems or adjust the fit of your dentures so mealtime is easier.

5. If you feel like food is getting stuck in your throat, you may not have enough spit in your mouth. Drink plenty of liquids when you eat for help swallowing, and talk to your doctor to see if a condition or medicine you’re on could be causing your dry mouth.

6. Make cooking and eating fun. Invite friends for a potluck where you each make and bring one part of the meal. Try cooking a new recipe with a friend or stage a cook-off to see who makes the better dish. Plan a date with your loved one where you cook a meal together. Have dinner at a senior center, community center, or religious organization for an affordable way to meet new people.

Follow us on Facebook and on Pinterest to find healthy recipes.

National Children’s Dental Health Month

National Children’s Dental Health Month

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, so we gave you some fun activities for your kids to learn about their teeth. (Click to enlarge images before saving to print!)

Everyone should brush their teeth for a perfect smile.

Dental Drawing

 

Picking healthy snacks improves your kids’ teeth and health.

Dental Game

 

Help your kids with this word search and teach them some important dental words.

Dental Word Search

 

Teach your kids about flossing and brushing now and protect their teeth for life!

Dental Picture Search

 

It’s important for kids to go to the dentist regularly to protect their teeth.

Dental Fill-in-the-Blank

 

Brushing 2 times a day for 2 minutes is key to maintaining your teeth for life.

Dental Connect-the-Dots

 

See how much your kids know about their teeth with this fun crossword.

Dental Crossword

Time Is Up: Make Healthy Resolutions

Making Healthy Resolutions

It’s that time again to start picking out your New Years Resolutions. If you always go too big and forget about them within the month, each day this week we gave you some little changes and healthy resolutions you can stick to.

The hardest one is to quit smoking. It’s hard to do, but it’s standing in the way of your healthy life. We can help members connect to resources and support with our Quit For Life program.

Quit Smoking Resolution

 

Today’s resolution is to get more sleep. Sleep is when your body and mind heals and prepares. Find more info about sleep on our Pinterest.

Getting Enough Sleep

 

Stress has been linked to big health problems, like heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Find info on ways to relieve some of your stress on our Pinterest board.

Managing Stress in the New Year

 

Resolve to get yearly checkups with your main doctor and dentist. It helps catch problems early and keeps you up-to-date on things like shots.

Regular Checkups for Your Health

 

Floss your teeth! It sounds simple, but only half of Americans do it. Yet smiles are the first feature we notice. Take the time on your teeth, and people will notice.

Flossing for Your Future

 

Dieting sounds like a lot, so instead, focus on only eating healthy portions this New Year and watch your health improve!

Portions

 

Make a routine and stick to it. A routine in the morning can help you get up to workout, and one at night can help you go to sleep.

Building a Healthy Routine

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Dental Adventures During the Arm Challenge

My Healthy Journey: Dental Adventures

So I know I was ready for my new week on Monday, but so far this week is not off to a much better start than the last.

I hate going to the dentist, and I hadn’t since before I went to college. Well, this weekend, I chipped a tooth and I had to suck it up and go. Which has resulted in more than 6 hours of lots of different dental work on Monday and Tuesday.

Because of the dental work, my food log is going pretty poorly so far, mostly because I haven’t eaten much this week. Also, all I’ve been doing in my spare time is lying on the right side of my face to help with the pain. But I’m going back to being a fully-functioning person today!

So even though my week’s new start is happening at a new time, I am happy that with my healthy journey, I also have newly healthy teeth!

So back to the 19-Day Arm Challenge it is!

For Day 5 on the beginner’s track, you will do:

12 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 10 Push-Ups.

For Day 5 on the advanced track, you will do the same as Day 4:

14 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, and Shoulder Presses, and 12 Push-Ups.

For Day 6 on both tracks, you will take a rest day.

Don’t forget, the exercises are here if you need them: My Healthy Journey: The 19-Day Arm Challenge, Day 1.

(And make sure you take care of your teeth and visit your dentist! Or you will regret it, like my face currently does. )

Up-Serving Together

Vantage Point: Up-Serving is a Win-Win

Most people have heard of up-selling, but what about up-serving? Up-serving is doing more for people than they expect. As the community liaison for Health Alliance Medicare, I have been fortunate to work with many people who continually go above and beyond to improve our communities.

I am nearing my one-year anniversary at Health Alliance Medicare and have been thinking of all the amazing things we’ve accomplished together. I’m so thankful for the chance to work together and enhance the lives of North Central Washington seniors, be it holding a health fair, promoting education, providing resources, or volunteering.

The fun social activities inspire me, like being invited to two-step and waltz at the Okanogan Senior Center dance or attending Friday’s senior coffee and chat at the Wellness Place. How nice to have no agenda except to gather and enjoy each other’s company! There I met Lois, who showed me the scars she still has from floating down the Wenatchee River on an inner tube, and 92-year-old Don, who randomly breaks out in song.

I have met and worked with so many wonderful people, including one of our members who oversees the Cashmere museum. When he saw what the combined spirit of a community could accomplish, he could not help but volunteer.

Recently Les Schwab had a “Do the Right Thing” contest, and I nominated a local dentist. When he heard one of our members needed dental care but couldn’t afford it, he graciously volunteered his services. Upon winning the monetary award, the dentist then paid it forward to community causes he supports.

At Health Alliance Medicare we strive to up-serve by going above and beyond for our members.

Our homey Fifth Street office in Wenatchee is purposeful in its role to provide truly local customer service, but also personal as our members can come in to get face-to-face help. Per one of our members, “It is just reassuring to know it is there.”

I want to personally say thank you for allowing me to partner in the ideas, energies, and resources to improve the communities we serve. I am excited to see what our continued collaboration can accomplish. When we up-serve, we all win.

Diabetes and Your Teeth

Caring for Your Teeth with Diabetes

We’re taught the importance of brushing and flossing from a young age. Although we no longer brush with bubble gum-flavored toothpaste and a vibrating cartoon toothbrush, it’s still just as important. In fact, it’s more important as your teeth age. Caring for diabetes and your teeth and gums at the same time needs even closer attention.

Diabetes and Your Teeth

High blood glucose promotes germs’ growth. When bacteria constantly attacks your teeth and gums, you can get red, sore, and swollen gums that bleed when you brush or floss.

If you have diabetes, you may have trouble keeping your blood sugar levels steady. High levels are not only bad for your health, but also your teeth. Teeth and gum problems occur more often when your levels stay high.

Smoking also makes it more likely for you to get a bad case of gum disease, especially if you have diabetes and are 45 or older.

If you have one or more of these problems, you may have tooth and gum damage from diabetes:

  • Red, sore, or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Gums pulling away from your teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Your dentures no longer fit correctly

Caring for Your Diabetes and Your Teeth

To avoid permanent damage to your smile:

  • Keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible.
  • Use dental floss at least once a day. Using a sawing motion, gently bring the floss between your teeth, scraping from bottom to top several times.
  • Brush your teeth after each meal or snack using a soft toothbrush.
  • If you wear false teeth, keep them clean.
  • Get your teeth cleaned and your gums checked by your dentist twice a year.

When you do to the dentist, it’s important to plan ahead. If you’re taking a diabetes medicine that can cause low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, talk with your dentist before the visit about the best way to take care of your blood sugar during long procedures. You may need to bring some diabetes medicine or food to the dentist’s office.

If your mouth is sore after dental work, you might not be able to eat or chew right away. Talk to your doctor about how best to adjust your normal routine while your mouth is healing.