Dental Health and Seasonal Changes

Smile with toothpaste

The cold weather and abundance of sweets during Fall can affect the teeth.

With Halloween freshly behind us and Thanksgiving on the way, autumn is a season for celebration, shared meals, and candies! However, every good thing has its negative. Cases of teeth plaque and tooth decay often increase during the holidays as people get too busy or consume more food. The cold weather also brings in a craving for hot, sweetened chocolate drinks that can affect your dental health. As the temperature drops during fall, your teeth’s sensitivity might also increase as nerve endings get exposed to the cold air. Fluctuating heat levels may also cause your teeth to crack and intensify the effects of gum recession. The frigid, biting air may even dry your lips and cheeks, causing them to bleed and blister.


10 Ways to Prep Teeth for Fall

When it comes to oral health, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The key to a healthy smile is early prevention and detection. And, to help prep your teeth, here are other dental health tips that you can do on your own:


  1. Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated can do wonders for your oral health. Since your saliva helps in coating your teeth in a protective layer (while flushing out any harmful bacteria) keeping your mouth moist is a must. When you don’t drink enough water, your mouth can dry and encourage bacterial colonies to grow. Water also contains minerals that can strengthen your teeth and help in enamel maintenance.


  1. Avoid (or moderate) sugary drinks — like Pumpkin Spice Latte

From egg nog and wine to hot chocolate and tea; the cold weather can have everyone reaching for these tasty beverages. Over the years, one drink has outranked them all, and that’s the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte. Popular every autumn season, it invokes a sense of nostalgia and rustic feel to the holidays.


However, it also brings with it plenty of sugar and tannins that can stain your teeth and induce tooth decay. If you ever get the craving for it, just make sure to brush your teeth 30 minutes afterwards, or you may end up with plaque buildup and stained teeth. Not to worry though, you can always schedule a tooth scaling or whitening treatment to remove all those latte stains.


  1. Manage tooth sensitivity caused by weather changes

Teeth sensitivity is a year-round affair for many people. Some may even have their teeth become more sensitive after a filling or other dental treatments. However, this painful sensation can be magnified with sudden temperature drops.


Cold weather can affect your teeth’s nerve endings and crack your lips. All these might be too difficult to treat since no one really escapes the cold during autumn. However, you can engage in preventative measures, such as using lip balm and visiting your dentist.


  1. Avoid (or moderate) Halloween candy

Halloween candy is a staple for any trick-or-treat trip around the neighborhood. Just seeing even one brings back memories of fun times and spooky nights with friends. Even adults can join in on the fun and ask for a piece of candy or two. However, eating too much Halloween candy can have its own spooky effects.


Sugar-loving bacteria can haunt your teeth and cause severe tooth decay, but with proper brushing, healthy oral habits, and plenty of water, you can drive them away. You can let yourself and your kids indulge from time to time, but it’s best to limit the intake.


  1. Substitute s’mores with healthy bonfire treats

Autumn is a great time for camping, a bonfire, and some s’mores — nothing could be more perfect. However, the thing with marshmallows and sweet treats is they can wreak havoc on your teeth afterwards. So, the next time you think of camping out, why not go for healthier alternatives?


How about a midnight snack of fruit chunks such as pineapples, bananas, strawberries, dates, and peaches. You can drizzle them with a bit of maple syrup and cinnamon, then roast them over the fire. You can even smoke some ham, sausages and other hearty meats then dip them in mustard and ketchup! How about a healthy grilled cheese sandwich toasted over your bonfire? Stop settling for s’mores and explore other creative menu options.


  1. Replace your toothbrush

Your toothbrush is your weapon in the battle against bacteria and plaque. You need to make sure your toothbrush is in the best condition. If it’s worn and damaged, you need to buy a new one.


The bristles of old toothbrushes can get frayed and even harbor some harmful bacterial colonies. Changing your toothbrush every 3 months can protect your teeth and gums from frayed bristles and bacteria.


  1. Schedule a dental cleaning before the holiday rush

Arranging a dental cleaning is always a good thing. However, it’s important to note that any teeth cleaning clinic near you could be jammed during the holidays. To avoid getting wait-listed and delayed, call early and arrange a schedule before the onset of autumn celebrations.


  1. Consider chewing on Xylitol gum

Xylitol gum has no sugar in it. Even though it tastes sweet, Xylitol is a naturally derived sweetener that neutralizes your mouth’s pH level. It can give you fresh breath while protecting your teeth from bacterial growth.


  1. Treat your teeth

This holiday season, why not splurge on yourself and treat your teeth? Instead of spending your money on junk food, you can always invest in your health. Spend money on your smile by arranging dental cosmetic appointments and buying high-quality oral hygiene tools.


  1. Use your dental benefits


Major dental services to correct your teeth can be quite expensive. However, it’s a worthwhile investment. Most dental insurance expires on the 31st of December. It’s best to take advantage of your coverage before the year is out.


Dental benefits for seniors and adults alike can be used to cover appointments, cleanings, and exams. So, arrange an appointment now rather than having your insurance money go to waste as the new insurance year begins.

To avoid any future oral health problems that can disrupt your autumn celebrations, try flossing every day and arranging a dental appointment beforehand. It may be the season for treats, but you don’t have to be scared of cavities and tooth decay. With proper oral care habits, you can successfully get through the fall season and have a blast.

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Don’t let your spending splurge become a habit

You’ve probably seen it for yourself. Mall parking lots are filling up. Cash registers are beeping. And people are opening their wallets again. Many of us are witnessing something of a post-lockdown spending splurge as people indulge once again in retail therapy.


It’s no surprise that after months of being homebound with limited options to spend, people are once again looking to travel, shop, eat out and celebrate. But even though it’s understandable that you may want to indulge a little, remember that you also have other financial goals you want to pursue—including saving for retirement.


According to one study, 44% of people say they are now willing to go into debt to treat themselves post lockdown.1 Compare that to another finding that 48% of households headed by someone 55 and older lack some form of retirement savings.2


An occasional — and affordable — splurge is fine. But accumulating additional debt to bankroll your fun will only hurt you in the long run, especially at an average credit card interest rate of more than 16%.3


During the pandemic, researchers discovered a sizable increase in Americans’ savings as a percentage of disposable personal income, from 7.2% in December 2019 to a record high of 33.7% in April 2020.4 And from March to April of 2020, Americans’ average savings rate nearly quadrupled. If you’re one of the people who got into a saving habit during lockdown, why not make the habit permanent and increase the amount you contribute to your employer-sponsored retirement account? Through the power of compound growth, any earnings your contributions generate get reinvested and can generate additional earnings. That way, you may have even more available to splurge with when you can enjoy it in retirement.






1, “Almost half of Americans are willing to take on debt in a post-pandemic spending splurge,” June 9, 2021.

2, “Nearly Half of Americans 55+ Have No Retirement Savings,” March 28, 2019.

3, “Average Credit Card Interest Rates,” September 15, 2021.

4, 2021 Spring Ten Magazine, “Study shows surge in savings during the pandemic,” April 29, 2021.

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Prediabetes – Are you at Risk?

Image with shoes, apple, sugar monitor and insulin

Understanding Prediabetes

Prediabetes refers to the phase before a person develops diabetes, where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for the person to be diagnosed with diabetes. To understand prediabetes, you first need to know what diabetes is and why you are trying to avoid it. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), rates of type 2 diabetes have more than tripled in the United States since the early 1990s, fueled largely by the global obesity epidemic. Most people know that diabetes is when you have too much sugar in your blood – “sugar” refers to blood glucose, which is your body’s fuel.

Diabetes: A Simple Explanation

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition in which the body has a reduced ability to clear glucose (sugar) out of the blood and into the body’s cells after eating or drinking anything that contains carbohydrates. This reduced ability results in elevated blood glucose, or hyperglycemia. Type 2 diabetes is caused by the coexistence over time of two conditions: insulin resistance and chronic inflammation. This results in a progressive state where the body needs to produce higher than normal amounts of the hormone insulin to clear glucose out of the blood after a meal or snack that contains carbohydrates. Insulin resistance starts at a low or “subclinical” level that can exist for years before being diagnosed by a blood test.

Insulin resistance occurs on a spectrum: it starts at a low level, where there’s no easy test to see that it’s happening as it progresses, insulin resistance eventually shows up as prediabetes; and if not addressed through diet, lifestyle changes, and possibly medication, insulin resistance may progress further to diabetes. Current estimates are that most individuals with prediabetes – as high as 70% – will eventually develop type 2 diabetes. Aside from high blood glucose levels, diabetes is associated with a host of other health problems including heart disease, stroke, amputations, kidney failure, cancer, and cognitive (brain function) problems. Research tells us that the risk of all these problems can be greatly reduced, or even altogether avoided, when healthy lifestyle changes are implemented early on. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Diagnosing Prediabetes: The Testing Process

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), there are certain groups of people who should be tested and subsequently screened for prediabetes regularly. Without obesity, screening should begin at age 45. Regardless of age, testing should be considered in all adults who are overweight (with a Body Mass Index of 25 or greater) and have additional risk factors, including:

  • Physical inactivity
  • First-degree relative with diabetes
  • High-risk race or ethnicity (African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure, greater than 140/90 or on medication)
  • HDL cholesterol level of less than 35 mg/dl and/or triglyceride level of greater than 250 mg/dl
  • Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • History of cardiovascular disease

According to the ADA, there are currently three different ways to be tested for prediabetes: A hemoglobin A1C test, a fasting plasma glucose test, and an oral glucose tolerance test. Your blood glucose levels measured after these tests determine whether you have normal glucose metabolism, prediabetes, or diabetes.

Millions of Americans are walking around with prediabetes, and the majority don’t even know it. To figure out your risk, take the one-minute American Diabetes Association’s Risk Test.

If you are concerned about your prediabetes risk, know that small changes to your lifestyle can lower your risk. If you’re overweight, losing just 10-15 pounds can make a big difference. Make small changes to the way you eat without giving up the foods you love, increase your daily physical activity to 30-minutes, and manage your stress. And consider participating in the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) aimed at addressing the growing problem of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The CDC established this lifestyle change program focused on helping participants make positive lifestyle changes such as eating healthier and getting more physical activity. Other resources include:

This month get started on developing healthy habits with the Fitness and Wellness Division’s “The Benefits are Endless” 28-day challenge. Program information is found on the Fitness and Wellness SharePoint site.



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