Category: Self Improvement

Is Light Smoking As Bad As Heavy Smoking?

Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of death in the U.S.

If you’re wondering, “Compared to heavy smokers, are light smokers at risk?” we have the answer. Simply put, light smokers are still at risk for overall harmful health effects.

Continue reading for more information on cigarettes, smoking, and its effects on the body.

What Are Cigarettes?

Most cigarettes that you’ll find in every store are made of tobacco, added chemicals, filters, and are encased in paper rolls. These are popular habits picked up by many Americans and are the root of many issues.

Generally, we’re all aware of the fact that smoking is harmful. But why? Because cigarettes are the common cause of tobacco-related illnesses and deaths. Both smokers and nonsmokers are at risk of being exposed to the toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke, making these environments highly harmful.

However, while contributing to the environmental issue of inhaling others’ cigarette smoke, cigarettes also have an adverse effect on the body.

What Are the Health Effects of Smoking?

Smokers are at risk for damaging almost every organ in their body just by inhaling cigarette smoke. 

There are several intense issues that smoking cigarettes provide to the human body.

  • An increased risk of coronary heart disease
  • Risk of strokes
  • Increased possibilities of developing lung cancer
  • A direct cause of lung cancer
  • The possibility of developing cancer in almost any part of your body
  • A decline in the health of gums and teeth
  • A decrease in fertility for both men and women
  • Risk of weakening bones

These health effects are accompanied by the fact that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in America. Nearly 1 in 5 deaths are contributed to a smoking habit, resulting in disease and premature deaths.

Though it may seem that these health complications are only applicable to heavy smokers, smoking is a risk factor, and light smokers are still at risk for these ailments.

How Light Smokers Are Still in Danger

Even though smoking less is better than keeping a steady smoking habit, it still presents risks and can lead to a heavy smoking habit.

Individuals might smoke lightly thinking they’re weaning themselves off of cigarettes or enjoying a weekend activity. Smoking once a month, having cut down to 1 cigarette a day, and the occasional smoking after quitting are all dangers that light smokers face.

Light smokers are still in danger of developing cancer, cataracts, and heart disease, and quitting completely is the best option.

Beginning to Quit Smoking

Perhaps light smokers use the occasional cigarette to avoid trying to quit altogether. However, this is a problem due to the continued use of cigarettes. There are several things you can do to begin quitting smoking.

  • Throw away your cigarettes and lighters
  • Drink water throughout the day
  • Exercise
  • Chew gum or suck on hard candy
  • Meditate
  • Avoid caffeine

Trying to quit smoking might seem too overwhelming or frightening to do alone. There are many resources to dropping a smoking habit so that you don’t have to do it by yourself.

Transitioning From Light Smoker to Non-Smoker

Once light smokers have practiced quitting the occasional cigarettes, they can reduce the overall negative health effects that smoking presents. Light smoking is better than smoking heavily but not better for your body.

If you enjoyed this article, check out more from our Health and Fitness section.

8 Simple TMJ Exercises for Pain Relief

Is TMJ pain getting you down?

Jaw and ear pain caused by TMJ disorders can be a major disruptor in your day, especially since you can’t predict when the pain is going to set in.

However, you can try to reduce and relieve the pain with a few simple exercises. Keep reading for quick TMJ exercises for pain relief that you can do anywhere. 

What Is TMJ?

First, let’s define TMJ disorders. It stands for temporomandibular joint dysfunction and is one of the leading causes of ear and jaw pain.

Your TMJ is a joint that connects your jaw to your skull and works as a hinge to open and close your mouth. For people with TMJ disorders, you can feel severe pain and discomfort and even experience a regular TMJ headache.

Pain isn’t the only indicator of a TMJ disorder. You may also have a clicking in your jaw, or your jaw could lock up from time to time. It may be hard for you to open your mouth widely without pain or jaw clicking.

Another symptom of TMJ disorders is trouble chewing foods that are too crunchy or chewy. 

When TMJ pain strikes, it’s important to know how to relieve it quickly so you can go on with your day. Try a couple of these easy TMJ exercises for pain relief and see which ones work the best for you. 

1. Facial Massage

A facial massage is an easy way to relieve TMJ pain. Start by heating your jaw with a warm washcloth or heating pad. Once it feels warm, use your fingers to massage in circular motions along your jawline.

Massage slowly and work up and down your jaw for several minutes. Reapply heat as needed and continue massaging until the pain is gone.

2. Relaxing Your Jaw

You’re likely clenching your jaw without realizing it throughout the day. This can put more pressure on your jaw and increase TMJ pain.

Practice relaxing your jaw by holding your tongue to the roof of your mouth right behind your teeth and opening and closing your mouth several times. Letting your jaw relax like this will relieve the tension you’re holding by clenching.

3. Jaw Resistance

Resistance exercises will improve jaw strength and make your TMJ easier to manage. 

Start by placing your thumb under your chin. Apply pressure to add resistance as you slowly open your mouth. Hold for a couple of seconds before closing your mouth. As you close, keep the thumb on your chin and continue applying resistance. 

4. Jaw Movements with a Tongue Depressor

You can use a tongue depressor to complete a few easy jaw movements that will increase jaw mobility and relieve TMJ pain. Place the tongue depressor between your teeth and slowly move your jaw from side to side.

Next, move your jaw forwards and backward so that your bottom teeth are in front of your top teeth. Repeat each motion slowly for a few minutes.

5. Goldfish Mouth Openings

There are two variations of the goldfish exercise you can try to reduce your TMJ pain. For the first one, practice a partial opening. Hold your tongue to the roof of your mouth and place one finger under your ear with the TMJ. With your other hand, place your pointer finger on your chin.

Practice partially opening and closing your mouth slowly a couple of times. Try the same exercise again but open your mouth fully.

6. Chin Exercise

A simple chin exercise can relax your jaw and quickly reduce your pain. Standing with a straight spine, tuck your chin into your neck. It should look like you are making a double chin. Hold for a few seconds before releasing, and repeat for a couple of minutes until your pain subsides. 

7. Tongue Movement Exercises

Open your mouth as wide as you can without pain and touch your tongue to the roof. Next, slowly move your tongue back until you feel the soft spot on the roof of your mouth.

Then, stick your tongue out of your mouth as far as you can. Repeat this exercise in a circular motion a couple of times. Don’t try to go too fast; the slow movements will help reduce your pain quickly.

8. Open Up Exercise

Stretching out your jaw will release TMJ pressure, so try this stretching exercise. Just like before, open your mouth as wide as you can without pain. Then, place your hand on one side of your mouth and apply gentle pressure to your jaw.

Your jaw should shift sideways slightly. Hold it in this position for ten seconds before you release it. Repeat on the other side.

Other TMJ Treatment Options

If you experience regular TMJ discomfort that is severe and inhibits your daily life, seek professional help for TMJ pain relief. A chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, and osteopathic physician can all help you. They can perform jaw and skull massages that reduce your pain and help you manage your TMJ disorder. 

Regular chiropractic adjustments are especially helpful for TMJ ear pain. Describe the pain to your provider and outline when and where you feel it the most so that they can focus the massage on your problem areas. 

TMJ Exercises for Pain Relief

Having these TMJ exercises for pain relief in your back pocket will help you combat the discomfort and soothe your jaw as soon as you feel the pain set in.

The exercises will also help to strengthen, relax, and stretch the jaw so that you experience fewer TMJ issues moving forward.

If your pain is severe and ongoing, contact your professional healthcare provider for help. For more health tips and resources, check out the rest of the blog. 

9 Common Teeth Whitening Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

We’ve all done questionable things to get a beautiful pearly white smile.

After all, it’s so easy to fall into bad bleaching habits. With more than 45 million Americans who have professionally bleached their teeth, you’ll notice that the teeth whitening industry has flourished, and there’s a product (or ten) that fits a variety of preferences and budgets.

That doesn’t mean that they’re good for your oral health, especially in the long-run. If you’re unfamiliar with the top teeth whiting mistakes, no worries. We’ve got you covered. Keep on reading for our top nine teeth whitening mistakes and how to avoid them. 

1. Teeth Whitening Mistakes 101: Overbleaching

Let’s start with one of the most common (and most dangerous) mistakes that people in the U.S. fall into. 

As a matter of fact, this has become such a big problem that dentists have referred to it as a new condition, called bleachorexia. Overbleaching your teeth can cause a host of problems like gum sensitivities, loss of enamel, and even soft-tissue chemical burns.

It’s essential to start your bleaching process by talking with your dentist. They can determine whether you’re a suitable candidate for teeth whitening and will help prepare your mouth for the process. 

For instance, the best time to bleach your teeth is right after a thorough dental cleaning. This way you’ll have a clean and smooth tooth surface, which will give you the best results. 

You’ll also want to learn more about teeth whitening aftercare, which can either make your results last forever or make you feel as if you haven’t done anything.

2. Picking a Generic Dental Tray

When you skip the opportunity to get a tailor-made tray for your teeth by your dentist, you’ll have to use a generic tray. 

A generic tray can lead to spillage, make you swallow whitening solution, and lead to disappointing results. All of these factors can cause you to repeat the process, which will be both bad for your oral health, as well as costly. 

On the other hand, when you use a customized tray, you get to enjoy a great fit over your teeth. The bleach will be kept properly in contact with your teeth, and stay away from your gums and throat.

3. Whitening Your Teeth at a Salon

Sure, it might be a little less expensive to whiten your teeth at a salon. However, there are solid reasons why you should go to your salon for getting a facial or a manicure. 

Simply put, a salon won’t have the right disinfection materials so that they can conduct a proper disinfection process of the whitening equipment. To use bleaching equipment, you must have the ability to fully sterilize it before (and after) every single use. 

Unfortunately, the majority of salons won’t have this capability on hand, which can lead to a higher risk of infection. 

4. Regirous Use of Whitening Toothpastes

If you tend to use a whitening toothpaste daily, or twice a day, you need to stop.

Any sort of whitening toothpaste works by removing stains on the surface of your teeth, that might have been caused by drinks, like coffee and tea. However, when you use them daily, they can actually make your teeth look much worse. 

They are too abrasive for daily use and could cause severe tooth wear. You’ll want to make sure that your toothpaste doesn’t have a compound called silica, as this can remove your teeth’ surface enamel if you overuse it. 

5. Treating All Your Teeth the Same Way

Some patients might be unaware of their teeth conditions. For example, if you have veneers, or porcelain crowns, applying a whitening product to them can remove the surface glaze, or even the shiny restoration part, which can make them look horrid. 

When you consult with your dentist, they’ll be able to immediately tell whether you have restorations in place and will provide valid advice on how t safely whiten your other teeth. 

6. Picking Your Whitening Products Online

Sure, it’s easy and probably cheaper to buy questionable whitening products online. 

However, the whole premise of whitening your teeth is having stronger, healthier, and better-looking teeth. When you decide to buy sketchy products online, you’re playing Russian roulette with your oral health, and things might even backfire. 

If buying things online is your only option, then at least make sure to do some solid research before making your purchase. 

7. Not Having Clean Teeth Before the Procedure

If you haven’t been brushing and flossing your teeth pre-whitening, then you might run the risk of having some residue left on your teeth that can prevent the whitening substance from getting to your enamel and removing any stains. 

Just make sure you’re not brushing too hard, either. You don’t want to deal with bleeding and sensitive gums. 

8. Eating Acidic Fruits

If you tend to maniacally eat a whole lot of acidic fruit to brighten your teeth, you’re doing yourself a disservice. 

Fruits that have a low pH are very effective in breaking down the dental enamel. Unfortunately, once you’ve lost a layer of enamel, it doesn’t grow back. This can cause dental cavities, tooth sensitivity, and even gum tissue recession. 

9. Doing It Once and That’s It

Once you’re going through a teeth whitening process, you’ll need to make it a frequent occurrence to maintain your pearly whites. 

This is even more essential if you’re a person that consumes a lot of tea, coffee, red wine, or tobacco. All of those are staining agents, so they’ll re-stain your teeth as time goes on. 

You’ll want to get your dentist’s advice on how often you should be whitening your teeth. 

Ready to Blind People With the Sheer Whiteness of Your Teeth?

We know how overwhelming it can be to dip your teeth for the first time in the world of teeth whitening. With a million and one product on the market, and all of them promising amazing results, you’ll want to take a step back and do your research.

Hopefully, our guide on the top nine teeth whitening mistakes and how to avoid them was helpful to you. 

Just remember to always consult with your dentist whenever you’re in doubt. 

Orthopedic Care: Signs Your Child May Need Orthotic Inserts

Has something seemed… off about your child lately? Is it just your imagination or are they dragging their feet when they walk? And why does it seem like they’re always leaning their weight on one leg over the other?

What you’re noticing may not be a behavioral change. Your child may be dealing with pain in their feet.

There are several signs to look out for, which we’ve listed below. If your child meets the criteria, seek orthopedic care.

They’re Out of Alignment

Pediatric orthopedic care is more necessary for kids with misaligned knees and ankles. The tops of their first two toes should line up with the center of their knees. 

You can also check the backs of their ankles. The large tendon that runs from the heel to the calf should form a straight line. If it curves in any direction, your child is out of alignment. 

Alignment issues may seem minor but they can lead to injury down the line. Improper alignment can affect their knees, hips, back, and shoulders. If in doubt, give your doctor a call.

They Have Low Arches (or Flat Feet)

When should children have orthotics? Usually, when their arches don’t develop. 

44% of children aged three to six have flat feet. Typically, this improves with age as the bones in the feet become more rigid. But if the child’s arches don’t develop, they can be at higher risk for certain health issues. 

For example, flat feet can lead to overpronation. This is where the ankle rolls in when the child takes a step. Overpronation can lead to injuries, knee issues, and postural problems over time.  

They Lag Behind

If your child is always lagging behind or opting out of physical activity, this may be a sign of something awry. Foot or ankle pain can keep them from running full-speed into the next activity. 

This is one way to know how to tell if kids need orthotics. Ask them if they have any pain or discomfort when they walk. If they also have flat arches, take them to see a pediatric podiatrist.

They Trip Often

Excessive clumsiness is another reason to look into orthopedic care for kids. Kids aren’t the most coordinated among us. But if your child is always tripping, they may have an issue with their feet. 

This can be a helpful non-verbal cue that they’re in pain or struggling to walk properly. Check their feet for abnormal growth, bunions, or excessive pronation.

They Complain of Foot Pain

This is one of the more straight-forward signs that you may need to look into orthopedic inserts for kids. Your child may come right out and tell you that their feet hurt. 

But if they’re too young, they may tug at their shoes or refuse to stand or walk. Consider double-checking their toddler shoe sizes. The issue may be that they’ve already outgrown their shoes again. 

Foot pain should always be treated seriously, as it can lead to more problems in the future.

Consider Orthopedic Care

The above are several common reasons to seek orthopedic care for your child. But you don’t need to drop everything at the first sign of a wobble. If your child shows symptoms often, contact your podiatrist.

To learn more about affording pediatric care, visit our Personal Finance & Budgeting section. 

5 Compelling Benefits of Massage Therapy

Did you know that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) researchers estimate more than 50 million Americans live with chronic pain? Chronic pain is an ailment that hurts your body or prevents you from completing day-to-day work or activities. 

You may live with terrible back pain that flares up at work. Or your muscle aches prevent you from a good night’s sleep. Chronic pain is widespread and you shouldn’t have to face it alone.

Consider the benefits of massage therapy. You may be wondering what can massage therapy help with? Massage therapy can ease chronic pain and help you live a more comfortable and healthy life.

Read on to discover the five amazing benefits of massage therapy. This information will inspire you to confirm your next treatment. 

1. Get a Better Night Sleep 

Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your body. Short attention span, irritability, and malaise are the signs of someone lacking a good night’s sleep.

If your pain or body aches prevent you from sleeping well, massage therapy can alleviate those concerns. A massage therapist will help to calm your nervous system. This lessens tension which helps the body relax and fall asleep easier. 

2. Relieve Your Pain

You may be questioning what conditions can massage therapy help treat? If you suffer from specific health conditions like chronic pain, fatigue, or respiratory issues, massage therapy may help.

Check out this article to see if you need a massage therapist. A massage therapist can work with you one-on-one to address specific ailments and create a plan to relieve long-term pain. 

3. A Calming Tactic 

Is massage therapy worth it? If finding a way to manage anxiety or depression is appealing to you, read on. 

According to The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), massage therapy sessions significantly decreased anxious patients’ resting heart rate. The study showed respondents were less likely to report intense feelings of depression or anxiousness after the therapy sessions.  

 4. Move Those Muscles 

In the world of remote work and social distancing, you may feel a little stiff. Maybe you aren’t moving those muscles as much as you used to. Or, you may sit behind a screen all day at work.

Massage therapy can help to improve circulation and move your muscles. This promotes overall body health and strength.

And if you’ve ever pulled a muscle, massage therapy can address that pain. Massage therapists are trained in determining muscle damage and creating a plan that alleviates these issues.  

5. Your Attention Please 

Do you ever have trouble focusing? If you find yourself distracted by daily tasks, massage therapy can help increase your attention span and stay focused. Massage therapy helps to restore your muscles and nervous system. This helps your body function better; including brain energy and focus. 

The Benefits of Massage Therapy Can Change Your Life! 

The benefits of massage therapy stretch way beyond the physical body. Massage therapy can improve your mental state. This can impact your relationships, work, social life and so much more.

While each person has individual ailments or pain, remember that a massage therapist can create a therapy plan tailored to specific needs. If you found these massage therapy benefits helpful, check out our other health-related stories. 

Top 5 Factors to Consider When Choosing Dental Implants

Did you know that 30 million Americans are missing all their teeth in one jaw?

That’s a huge number, and with increased exposure on social media, more and more Americans are turning to dental implants to regain their first-class smile of years gone by.

Finding the right dental implants for your needs requires knowing your options. Here are five factors to consider when choosing dental implants.

1. Types of Implants

Found yourself asking “What are dental implants?” Well, let’s look at the different types to find out.

Patients can choose to have either an All-on-4 installation or two dental implants on each side. The former involves having four teeth installed when the patient needs 12. It is advantageous for patients who are not candidates for tooth replacement surgery and those who don’t want to undergo root canal treatments.

Dentists have two options when it comes to dental implants; they can either make a new tooth for you or attach one that has already been made into your mouth. This is most appropriate if the existing teeth are damaged, decayed or loose, meaning you have no choice but to make a go at replacing them with dental implants.

If you have cavities and dentures that aren’t working for you, then it may be time to consider having an implant installed instead.

2. Material and Shape of Implant

Dental implants made from titanium (but not all of them) are more durable than other types of implants. There is less likelihood of breaking down sooner, but they’re also more expensive. Ceramic or porcelain dental implants are more robust than titanium ones but less pricey.

The length and size of the dental implant are determined by the amount of space that’s made between it and your jawbone, so it’s crucial to know how much space you need for your implants to fit in. Dental implant manufacturers have different lengths and sizes for their implants, each one catering to different patients.

3. Dental Implant Budget

Dental implants made from titanium metal tend to be more durable than ceramic or porcelain and should last longer with little likelihood of breaking down soon. Still, they’re also more expensive than other types of implants.

While the cost of a dental implant installation is determined by the total number of teeth that need to be replaced, it’s also important to consider what type of implant you want.

Titanium dental implants are more expensive than other types as they are more prominent. On the other hand, ceramic or porcelain dental implants are more affordable but not as strong as titanium.

4. Dental Implant Procedure

Dental patients, like others, are always looking for ways to avoid pain during treatment. This means having options regarding dental implants that will provide them with comfort and prevent them from feeling any pain while their teeth are being replaced.

Also, some patients would prefer not to feel in the area where their implant is placed because it may make them feel uncomfortable.

5. Oral Health Issues

If you’ve got oral health issues, the chances are you’ll need those seeing to first. That’s so the mouth area can be free from infection and in good health before the procedure. Therefore, you must be able to go about your day-to-day activities without them getting in the way of doing so.

Regardless of the implant type you need, make sure you have had the necessary treatment before filling your dental implants with bone material. This is critical as dental implants work if they’re placed in a healthy jawbone.

Get Choosing Dental Implants Right First Time

If you’re worried about choosing dental implants, then we hope this has relieved some of your fears.

As long as dental implant choices are made in the right way based on your needs and what can be afforded, patients have no reason to worry about how much is spent on making their way into the dentist’s chair. In the end, the perfect smile is priceless!

Keep reading our blog for more top health advice!

What Is Emergency Dentistry and Is It Worth the Cost?

Are you in need of emergency dentistry services?

When healthy emergencies strike, it’s always good to have a plan. Unfortunately, most people associate “emergencies” with going to the hospital. It’s less common to know what to do when you have an emergency with your teeth.

Fortunately, an emergency dentist can take care of most issues. In some cases, the work they do may be temporary. But at least it can hold you over until you can see your regular dentist.

Here’s more on what emergency dentistry is and why it might be worth the cost.

What Is Emergency Dentistry?

As the name implies, an emergency dentist is a dental professional that handles patients who need immediate care.

When you break a bone or get incredibly sick, you go to the hospital. But if you crack a tooth, the hospital can’t do anything for you. This is when you might visit turn to emergency dentistry services.

Like other forms of emergency health specialists, an emergency dentist is usually available outside of normal working hours. This isn’t always the case, but you might be able to schedule an appointment early in the morning or night.

You may have to pay an additional fee to be treated, though.

*Keep in mind, this article is not meant to serve as a substitute for medical advice for your oral health. Speak to a dentistry professional to get advice for your specific situation.

When to See an Emergency Dentist

There are several cases that require emergency dentistry work.

Here are some common examples:

  • Cracked, broken, or abscessed teeth 
  • Knocked out tooth
  • Chipped tooth
  • Tooth out of alignment
  • Severe tooth pain

Basically, if you’ve lost or damaged a tooth or have immense pain, you might want to call a local dentist. The same goes for if there’s excessive bleeding or a severe infection in the mouth.

In some cases, time is of the essence for your trip to the dentist. If, for example, one of your teeth is knocked out, call right away. Put the tooth in a cup of milk and try to be seen sooner rather than later. This could make the difference between you keeping your tooth.

Type in “emergency dental near me” for all the options in your area.

What Isn’t a Dental Emergency

Unfortunately, oral care isn’t completely cut and dry. A lot can go wrong with our teeth. But that doesn’t mean everything is an emergency.

There are many instances where it’s better to wait to see your primary dentist than to pay for emergency dentistry. Examples include:

  • A loose crown
  • Slight tooth pain in the mouth/jaw
  • Minor tooth repair
  • Minor tooth chipping

Your primary dentist can handle these incidents. You’ll save money by waiting an extra day or two. Plus, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to accept your dental insurance (which only about 50 percent of American adults have).

Of course, reserve your best judgment if it will be several days before you can see them or if you think it will get worse if you wait. It’s always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to your oral health.

Emergency Dental Cost

Just like going to the ER, emergency dental costs will be higher than a regular trip to get your teeth cleaned. And if they don’t take your health insurance, you may have to pay for any work you get done out of pocket.

A good baseline to expect for visiting an emergency dentist is between $75 and $100. If you need a tooth pulled, it could be between $600 and $800, depending on where you live.

At a regular dentist’s office, crowns range between $1200 and $1400. Expect to pay at least this at an emergency dental office near you, plus more if you’re being seen promptly or outside working hours.

Outside of the typical nine to five workday, fees are likely to increase. Ask when you call to make sure you can afford the visit. Some emergency dentists use companies like Care Credit to make financing an option.

It’s also not a bad idea to set some money aside each month for dental work. Even if it’s not an emergency, having a little cash on hand for your oral health is always a smart move.

How to Avoid Dental Emergencies

Avoiding dental emergencies is about being proactive. Taking care of your mouth and developing good hygiene habits can prevent bad things from happening altogether.

See your dentist regularly to get your teeth cleaned and checked. He or she will be able to tell you what type of routine work you need. Getting fillings done when they’re required could prevent a tooth from cracking or chipping later on.

Your dentist can also warn you about signs of tooth decay, gingivitis, or periodontal disease. Left untreated, these things can quickly turn into dentistry emergencies.

Outside of these tips, be sure to avoid physical contact to the face and wear a mouth guard if you’re playing sports. Lifestyle considerations come into play here.

Should You See an Emergency Dentist?

Time is of the essence when it comes to emergency dentistry. If you need work done, make the phone call as soon as possible to find out your options. 

Bleeding, severe infection or pain, or a damaged tooth (cracked, chipped, abscessed, etc.) are all considered emergencies. Slight pain or swelling or a loose crown are not. You can probably wait to see your regular dentist and will save money by doing so.

For more tips on saving money, check out the rest of our blog!