Can Brushing Your Teeth Protect Your Heart?

Most people are taught to brush their teeth regularly at an early age to prevent cavities from developing. While brushing your teeth will certainly help achieve this (as well as prevent other issues, such as gum disease), it turns out teeth-brushing can also help lower the risk of atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat) and heart failure.

How Brushing Your Teeth Can Improve Heart Health

The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology recently published a study linking oral health to atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Previously, it was believed poor oral hygiene would lead to bacteria in the blood. This would result in inflammation, which would increase the risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure. The study was performed to define the link between oral health and these two heart issues more clearly.

The study involved:

  • 161,286 participants of the Korean National Health Insurance System
  • Participants between ages 40-79
  • Participants had no history of atrial fibrillation or heart failure

Between 2003 and 2004, participants underwent routine medical exams collecting information that included illnesses, oral hygiene behaviors, oral health, and more. During a median follow-up exam of 10.5 years, 7.971 participants experienced heart failure, while 4,911 participants developed atrial fibrillation. 

Based on the information collected, participants that brushed their teeth three or more times a day had a 12% lower risk of heart failure and a 10% lower risk of atrial fibrillation. The study did not investigate mechanisms. One reason brushing your teeth could improve heart health is because it reduces the bacteria between the teeth and the gums. This prevents the bacteria from entering the bloodstream.

The findings were independent of other heart-risk factors, such as alcohol consumption, sex, age, body mass index, and more. Additionally, the study was limited to one country. However, a very large group of people were studied over a long period of time, which strengthens the findings.

Learn more about heart health and all the latest health news by keeping up-to-date with The Benefits Store.

4 Tips to Help You Compete in The Great American Smokeout

Almost everyone knows smoking is bad for you. It’s become a widely known fact that smoking is one of the leading causes of cancer.

Because of how addictive it is, it can be incredibly difficult to stop smoking. That’s why the American Cancer Society encourages smokers to stop – even if only for a day – with the Great American Smokeout.

November 21, 2019: The Great American Smokeout

The Great American Smokeout is on the third Thursday of November every year. On that day, all smokers throughout the country are encouraged to stop smoking for that day.

Even quitting for one day can be helpful. The idea behind it is that by not smoking for a day, some smokers will decide to stop smoking altogether. One day without cigarettes can jumpstart an effort to quit altogether.

Getting Ready to Quit

If you’re a smoker and you’re trying to quit, these 4 tips can help:

  1. Save the date – Have a date in mind to quit smoking. This can help to mentally prepare you to quit and can help motivate you. It’s why the Great American Smokeout is such a success: It gives smokers a date to quit. This year it’s Thursday, November 21, 2019.
  2. Tell everyone your plan – Tell everyone in your life you’re preparing to quit smoking. The loved ones in your life will provide you with emotional and moral support which can help motivate you even more. If you tell them the date you’re going to quit, you’ll be more likely to follow through.
  3. Be prepared for the challenge – Quitting is tough! Figure out a few ways to cope with the urges you will feel. Plan to:
    • Contact a friend
    • Drink water
    • Exercise
    • Find a support group online
    • Make yourself a goody bag with gum, gummies, hard candies, etc.
    • Play games
  4. Remove all cigarettes – Get rid of cigarettes and smoking-related items from your home, your car, and your workplace. Out of sight; out of mind.

If you’re a smoker, quit during the Great American Smokeout. Stay up-to-date on the 2019 Great American Smokeout and other health news by visiting us at The Benefits Store today.

November Is National Family Caregiver Month

fProviding care to family members who can no longer support themselves can be quite challenging and stressful. Yet millions of Americans work hard as family caregivers. Many of them dedicate what little free time they have outside their own jobs to provide the long-term care their family members need. In support of these caregivers, November has been named National Family Caregiver Month.

Celebrating National Family Caregiver Month

If you are a caregiver, here are a few things you should know:

  • Don’t forget about your own health – Being a family caregiver is an amazingly selfless act. But it’s important not to jeopardize your own health. In order to provide the best possible care to your family member, you should make sure you keep yourself physically and mentally healthy as well.
  • It’s okay to take a break – Caregiving is like a fulltime job. If you need a break, take one. Respite care can be provided from a few hours to a few weeks at local senior communities or even at home.
  • What you do is valuable – Even if you may not always feel like your work is appreciated, the work that you do is incredibly valuable. In fact, the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare estimates that the unpaid care that millions of caregivers throughout the U.S. provide is worth around $375 billion.
  • You are not alone – It can get quite stressful taking care of someone who needs it, especially if they are unable to show their appreciation. Remember there are millions of Americans struggling with the same challenges. It’s why there are many caregiver support groups throughout the country that you can join. You should be able to find a support group locally or online.

It’s important to support family caregivers in your family. They are sacrificing a lot in order to ensure that family members who are chronically ill, aged, or disabled receive the care they need. Stay up-to-date with all the latest health news by continuing to visit us at The Benefits Store

Solving the Mystery of Chronic Pain

chronic painAccording to a CDC report published in 2016, roughly 20.4% of all adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain, while 8 percent of U.S. adults suffer from high-impact chronic pain. Unfortunately, treating chronic pain has remained a challenge due to the general mystery surrounding its causes. Chronic pain has mostly been managed through the use of opioids. (more…)

3 Earthquake Safety Tips

No major damage has been caused by earthquakes in California in the past few years, but it’s important that we know what to do for earthquake safety if a serious earthquake does hit. After all, California is an area that is earthquake-prone.

That’s why the Great California Shakeout event is held every October 17 to increase earthquake safety awareness. More than 9 million people have registered for the 2019 twelfth annual Great California Shakeout.

Here are 3 earthquake safety tips you should know:

1. Drop, Cover, and Hold On

Remember these three steps you should follow when an earthquake hits:

  1. Drop – Because a serious earthquake could knock you over (causing injury), you should drop to the floor on your hands and knees immediately. 
  2. Cover – Using one arm, cover your head and neck from potential debris falling from the ceiling. If possible, crawl under a nearby desk or table for shelter. If there’s no cover, crawl to an interior wall away from any windows. Bend your body over your knees to protect vital organs.
  3. Hold On – Remain dropped and undercover until the shaking stops.

2. Create a Family Emergency Plan

Make sure you create a family emergency plan so you know what to do following an earthquake. First of all, establish an out-of-town contact. This contact should be willing to act as a communication coordinator for your family and everyone in your family should have the contact’s phone number in their cellphones. This contact can help you know everyone’s okay and can get help if you need it.

3. Subscribe to Alert Services

ShakeAlert and other warning apps can text you alerts about bad weather, local emergencies, road closings, and more.

Learn how to prepare yourself for an earthquake by signing up for October’s Great California Shakeout. Keep up-to-date with the latest health news and emergency preparation tips by visiting us at The Benefits Store