When To See Your Dentist

mouth pain.pngProblems in your mouth are often temporary, like bad breath from spicy food or mouth sores and blisters from eating pizza topped with scalding hot cheese.

While these are nothing to fret about, there are changes in your mouth that should cause concern. You might wonder when you need to see a dentist, and when you really don’t.

Here are 6 symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore. Call your dentist if you experience:

1. Toothache

At the first sign of a toothache, see your dentist. Prolonged waiting for the ache to go away naturally will not end well – your tooth could actually die, and the pain will only get worse.


2. Jaw pain

While jaw pain can be caused by a serious toothache, pain can also come from sinus problems, teeth grinding, or TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint), which happens when jaw joints and the muscles controlling them don’t work together correctly. Your dentist will be able to help you or, depending on your diagnosis, he or she will refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist.


3. Bad breath

Temporary bad breath, caused by what you eat or drink, is not cause for alarm. But you should see a dentist for prolonged bad breath. It can be a warning sign for gum disease or something more serious. Most often, though, persistent bad breath can be reduced by brushing twice daily and flossing frequently.


4. Bleeding gums

Bleeding gums can be caused by brushing too hard or they could be an early sign of gingivitis or gum disease. If you’ve just taken up a new flossing regimen, then some blood here and there should not concern you. But if you experience sore and bleeding gums on a regular basis, that is not normal and you should see a dentist.


5. Mouth sores

Some mouth sores go away by themselves, such as canker sores and cold sores, but others could be a symptom of infection, virus or fungus. If you find any that are whitish in color or in patches on the inside of your cheeks, gums, or tongue, this could be a sore called leukoplakia — commonly seen in chewing tobacco users.


6. Cracked teeth

Hairline cracks in your teeth may not be visible to the naked eye, but they’re often painful if not treated immediately.

Often the result of brittle teeth, injury, or teeth grinding, cracked teeth could create larger problems for you in the future. If you notice pain when you chew, that’s when you need to see your dentist.

The old adage is true: take care of your teeth and they will take care of you. Make your dentist a partner in keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

Source: Cleveland Clinic

Mexican Burrito with Chicken and Avocado


  • 8 ounces precooked or leftover chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen corn, cooked or thawed
  • 1/4 cup no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, divided (plus more for optional garnish)
  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced-sodium Cheddar cheese
  • 1 small avocado, diced and divided
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium tomatillo salsa, divided (plus more for optional garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 medium (8-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas
  • Diced tomatoes (optional garnish)


Heat the chicken strips according to package directions. Once warm, chop chicken into bite-size pieces.

In a small bowl, combine chicken, corn, black beans, 1 tablespoon cilantro, cheese, 1/2 avocado and 2 tablespoons salsa. Mix well to combine. Add salt and pepper, to taste. In a blender or food processor, combine lime juice, and the remaining avocado, salsa and cilantro. Blend until creamy. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice or salt as needed.

Spread 1/3 chicken filling into the center of a flour tortilla. Fold in the sides, and bring up the bottom of the tortilla, tucking in the ends. Keep rolling, pressing and creasing the end of the tortilla as you finish rolling it up. Top with avocado cream, and, if desired, more salsa, cilantro and tomatoes.

Nutrition Information

Serves: 3 |  Serving Size: 1 burrito

Per serving: Calories: 368; Total Fat: 13g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Monounsaturated Fat: 5g;Cholesterol: 64mg; Sodium: 656mg; Carbohydrate: 37g; Dietary Fiber: 8g; Sugar: 4g; Protein: 26g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 522mg; Iron: 12%; Vitamin A: 12%; Vitamin C: 15%; Calcium: 11% 

Source: MyFitnessPal

Laughter – Making You Heart Healthy

dreamstime_m_52383404.jpgIn recent years, studies have shown a strong link between our emotions and cardiovascular health. Research shows that hostility, anger, depression, anxiety and social isolation all lead to higher rates of heart disease. The reverse is true as well: Laughter, happiness and a sense of humor actually can help you to stay healthy. Research suggests laughter can decrease stress hormones, reduce artery inflammation and increase HDL, the “good” cholesterol, says the American Heart Association (AHA).The positive effects of laughter last 24 hours, the AHA says.

Here are three ways in which laughter can give you a healthier heart:

1. Increased blood flow

Researchers at University of Maryland Medical Center found that laughter increases your blood flow by dilating the inner lining of blood vessels, which is called the endothelium.

Laughter causes the release of beta-endorphins in the hypothalamus, which leads to the release of nitric oxide, which dilates the vessels.

Nitric oxide is a chemical that also protects the heart by reducing inflammation and preventing the formation of cholesterol plaque.

The researchers said the change in the endothelium caused by laughter appears to be similar to the benefits of aerobic exercise or the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins. The difference is that laughter is spontaneous and has an immediate effect.

2. Less stress hormones

Laughter has also been shown to have beneficial effects on other aspects of our biochemistry. For example, it leads to a reduction in stress hormones, including cortisol and epinephrine. Stress causes our blood vessels to constrict.

3. Antibody boost

Laughter boosts the number of antibody-producing cells, which leads to a stronger immune system.

“The benefits of laughter cannot be understated,” says cardiologist Benico Barzilai, MD. “Laughter leads to an immediate reduction in the body’s negative response to stress and causes the blood vessels of the body — including the heart — to increase blood flow as needed.”

Researchers are just beginning to understand all that laughter can do to promote heart health. There is some thought that laughing on a regular basis can even reduce your risk for a heart attack.

Here are a few suggestions to reduce stress and laugh more:

  • Look at the lighter side of things
  • Spend more quality time with loved ones who bring joy and laughter
  • Catch a comedy on TV or at the movies

By making humor a regular part of your life, you can have a big impact on your own heart health.

Source: Cleveland clinic blog

De-Stress Your Morning Routine

Morning RoutineDo you feel like you’ve run a marathon by 9 a.m. every day? You’re not alone. Mornings, especially if you work outside the home, have school-age kids or both, can be the most crazy-making part of a parent’s day. We talked to professional organizers, life coaches and parenting experts to get nag-free tips on streamlining and simplifying weekday mornings. Read on to find out how to get out the door on time, and maybe even enjoy a morning cup of coffee.

Start Before School Does

  • Routines get lax and bedtimes get later in summer. If you wait until the school year starts to try to get on a new schedule, you’ll all be in for a rude awakening. “Ease your children back into routines a week to two before school starts depending on how irregular their schedule became,” says Tanna Clark, a professional organizer in Nashville, TN. That means slowly pushing back bedtime, as well as getting up earlier.

Do It the Night Before

  • “The rule of thumb is that everything that does not have to be done in the morning should be done the night before,” says Alexandra Mayzler, director of Thinking Caps, a tutoring company in New York City. “Short of sleeping in tomorrow’s clothing, kids should pack their backpack, prepare their clothing, think about what will need to be done in the morning, and set the alarm clock. Set aside the same slot of time, either right before bed or maybe before reading time, to do the morning prep work.”

Everything Has Its Place

  • Ann Dolin, an education specialist suggests creating a “launch pad,” where all school-related stuff — backpack, lunch box, library books, lunch money, permission slips, etc. — is stored and prepped. “A launch pad can be a box, large basket, dishpan or any container big enough to house your child’s school items, says Dolin. “Put it in a well-traveled area, preferably near the door your child exits and enters going to and from school.”

Create Charts

  • Get dressed, comb hair, make the bed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, put on shoes, grab your backpack — and out the door! A morning routine chart — with images for pre-readers — can keep easily distracted kiddos focused. If you’re not arty enough to make a chart, you can buy one, like On Task On Time for Kids, a big timer you can customize with stickers that prompt kids with the next to-do.

Get Connected

  • “For kids going to sleep at night means they are on their own,” says Betsy Brown Braun, child development and behavioral specialist, and author of You’re Not The Boss Of Me. “I look at the morning as the oasis after the drought.” In other words, kids can be especially needy for Mommy time in the morning, which may not exactly mesh with your desire to rush everyone out the door. Taking a moment first thing to reconnect with a snuggle and a little conversation can go a long way toward quelling attention-getting behavior later. If they start acting up as the morning goes on, see what you can do to re-establish a connection. Maybe getting dressed in Mommy and Daddy’s room will be just what he needs to get his pants on.

Get Dressed First

  • The biggest hurdle in the race to get out the door? Getting dressed. Braun suggests getting it out of the way first thing, teaching kids to suit up even before they come downstairs for breakfast. The night before, have them lay their clothes out on the floor, crime scene style, to make it fun and easy. Buy clothes that are easy-on and easy-off — think elastic waists and big buttons. And let go of the idea that your kids will head off to school looking like they belong in a catalog. Remember — self-reliance is more important than outfits that match.

Make Breakfast DIY

  • Sharon Danzger, a professional organizer in northern New Jersey, suggests buying yourself a bit more time to get ready by empowering kids to fix breakfast for themselves. Save hot breakfasts for the weekend, and instead stick with quick, no-cook options. Have cereal and bowls out where kids can reach them, and keep milk, yogurts, and cheese accessible from the bottom shelves and drawers in the fridge.

Follow the Leader

  • Teachers are great at making jobs seem exciting and fun — a trick parents can steal. If you have more than one kid, let them take turns being the morning leader. “This child is in charge of getting certain tasks done and helping motivate everyone to get out the door,” says Erin Munroe, a child therapist in the Boston, MA area. “He or she also gets some sort of bonus for being the leader, like picking the radio station.”

Play Some Tunes

  • The right music can give kids the get-up-and-go that they need to plow through the morning routine. “Create a playlist of music that your children like and have it last for 10 to 15 minutes, says Grace Brooke, a professional organizer in Santa Rosa, CA. You can even use music like a timer — when the Jonas Brothers song comes on, you should be getting on your shoes!

Get Up Earlier

  • You might not like this one, but it could make a world of difference. If you find yourself consistently running 15 minutes late, get up 15 minutes earlier, says Debi Silber, a life coach in Dix Hills, NY. You’ll give yourself a cushion — and maybe even a chance to get ready in peace. Ditto for your kids; if it consistently takes them 30 minutes to get ready, don’t think they can magically do it in 20.

Use a Carrot

  • Whatever your kid loves — watching TV, playing on the computer — use it as a reward for when they get ready ahead of schedule, says Brooke. In other words, no screen time until he’s done what he needs to.

Do as You Say

  • Model what you want your kids to do. “Be a role model to your children by preparing your lunch the night ahead, preparing your bags and picking out your clothes, tidying up in the evening and setting the table for breakfast,” says Fran Pollen, a parent coach in the Philadelphia area. That means no skipping breakfast, Mom — your kids aren’t allowed to, right?

Stay Calm

  • Have you ever noticed your anxiety has the effect of making your kids move in slow-mo? “The more you rush in the morning, the slower your kids will move,” says Kirk Martin, a behavioral consultant in Nashville, TN and executive director of Celebrate!Calm, or organization that specializes in working with kids with learning disabilities. So if the kids are stalling or dawdling, stop what you’re doing and see if a hand on the arm or squatting down to make eye contact can get them moving again. “Once we connect with a child, compliance follows,” says Martin.

Let the Chips Fall

  • As they should during the rest of your day, let your child’s actions dictate the consequences, even if it makes you late or saddles you with a whiny kid on the way to school. If your son doesn’t put on his shoes as you ask, warn him that you’ll take him to school shoeless – and then follow through and let him feel the consequence of being embarrassed in front of his teacher (pack the shoes, of course!) “Take the time to teach your child the lesson one day to save time every day,” says Braun.

Source: Parenting

Can you be overweight and still be fit?

“Fit” is a loaded word without a standard definition. Ask a doctor, and they’ll cite stats about metabolic health. Ask an athlete, and they’ll measure fitness by triathlon times and PRs. Ask a member of the fashion industry, and they’ll point to magazine covers and swimsuit models.

That’s why it’s no surprise that the question of whether you can actually be “fat and fit” is so hotly debated. Take, for example, the controversy over plus-size model Ashley Graham on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s iconic swimsuit issue or the technically obese NFL lineman Vince Wilfork holding his own in ESPN The Magainze’s body issue.

The debate isn’t confined to pop-culture magazine covers or social-media fat-shaming. There’s discord in the medical community as well about just how accurate static measures like body mass index are when it comes to giving a precise assessment of health.

So can you actually be both heavy and healthy? According to the experts and the latest research, the answer is technically yes — but there are some major caveats.

“It may sound cliché, but it’s literally what is on the inside that counts,” says Niket Sonpal, MD, assistant clinical professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City. “Overall fitness is not just about the sheer numbers of weight-to-height ratio; it’s also about other factors like cardiovascular health, waist circumference, blood sugar levels, etc.”

As it stands, BMI, which is calculated by a ratio of height to weight, tends to be the go-to measure to classify someone as “fat” or not. But that ratio is a pretty narrow measure. It’s not at all unusual for an Olympic athlete or marathoner with a lot of muscle mass to fall into the “overweight” or even “obese” category, which is why a lot of medical professionals call bs on using BMI as an accurate measure of health. (Remember, muscle will up the number on the scale faster than added fat will.)

In fact, earlier this year, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that overall, the healthiest individuals — which were defined as individuals with the lowest early mortality rates — were actually those in the “overweight” BMI category. The study used data spanning four decades from over 100,000 participants and found that the BMI associated with the lowest risk of early mortality was 27. That’s squarely in the “overweight” category. In other words, they found that the “fat” people in the study were actually fitter than those of “normal” weight.

How is that possible? Sonpal says the measures of cardiovascular and metabolic health are the most important when it comes to determining an individual’s level of fitness. Those numbers will always trump the number on the scale. So if an “overweight” individual has stellar cardiovascular health, they might be considered fitter and healthier than a slimmer person who gets winded after running a mile.

“The way to measure if someone is truly ‘fit’ is through their blood pressure, resting heart rate, blood sugar, exercise tolerance, body fat percentage and other biomarkers to collectively assess health,” he says. “We need to look more at the functional ability as opposed to a static view. Your BMI is just a snapshot.”

This is largely why so many elite athletes dominate in a competition despite a super high BMI. Call it the Vince Wilfork phenomenon.

“Athletes generally have a lower body-fat percentage — that is, more muscle — than the general population, says Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD , who specializes in sports nutrition. “An athlete’s weight may be higher, but most of that weight comes from muscle, as opposed to fat. In this case, BMI is not a good indicator of weight or health status.”

This isn’t a free pass to start packing on the pounds or adopting unhealthy eating habits. “Overweight is not synonymous with unhealthy,” says Sonpal. “But we do know that carrying a lot of weight puts stress on your joints and puts more stress on your metabolic health.” In reality, when you start gaining weight, your metabolic health will likely start declining.

So what’s the bottom line? You can technically be heavy and healthy. Body fat is a factor that weighs on overall fitness, but it is not the only factor. As Sonpal stresses, no single measure — whether that’s BMI or the number on the scale — can give you a full picture of health. So when it comes to setting health goals to achieve a greater level of fitness, make sure the focus is on what your body can accomplish rather than how it looks.

Source: MyFitness Pal

Yoga with Jessica: Downward Facing Dog

dreamstime_m_39602138Ahhh, the Dog Days of Summer.  What better time to talk about Downward Facing Dog (down dog)!

To me down dog is synonymous with yoga. This is one of the poses that comes to mind when you hear the word yoga.  It is also known as Adho Mukha Svanasana, the Sanskrit term.

Basically, down dog is an inverted “V” with your weight in your arms and shoulders, which helps build upper body strength.Down dog has many benefits, both physical & mental.

Physical benefits:

  • Improves digestion
  • Relieves insomnia, menstrual & menopausal discomfort, and low back pain
  • Strengthens arms, legs & torso
  • Stretches the palms, chest, back, hamstrings, calves & feet
  • Energizes the body

Mental benefits:

  • Improves focus
  • Develops willpower
  • Stimulates the mind
  • Relieves stress & mild anxiety

When you first start yoga, down dog may seem difficult, especially with all you have to remember. Once you get accustomed to it and build up some strength, down dog actually becomes a resting pose. I use down dog to flow, or transition, from one pose to another. I have had yoga teachers have their class hold down dog for 5 minutes or longer. Now that’s a workout (and it’s not all physical)!

Does the picture of downward facing dog intimidate you?  No worries!  There are modifications to make it, as well as all other poses, accessible to you!  There is no perfection in yoga.  We quiet the mind, leave the ego at the door, and allow our bodies to open and relax at its own pace, constantly doing what feels right in our own body.

Have a great month.  I’ll check back in next month with downward facing dog’s counter pose, Child’s Pose. Are you a Facebook follower?  If so, feel free to look up my yoga page, Simply Yoga with Jessica.

Incorporate the Olympics into your fitness routine

As you watch the Olympic Games from the comfort of your couch this summer, you might be inspired to push your own physical limits with a new workout routine. While you will not want to jump right into an Olympic-level training routine, you can add some Olympic inspiration to your workout with the ideas below.

dreamstime_m_30917612.jpgBalance Exercises:

Gymnasts, cyclists, and track stars all need to maintain good balance and poise to get the most out of their performances. To gain the balance of an Olympic athlete, you might try out some swing-overs or over-under hurdle exercises. When starting out with these exercises, go at a slow walking pace to be sure that you don’t trip yourself up. For an equipment-free workout, try balancing on one leg as you spell out the alphabet using the foot of your other leg. You’ll be surprised how much strength you build as you keep yourself standing on one leg.

dreamstime_m_22843139Weight Training: 

Every Olympic athlete incorporates gym time into his or her routine, because balanced training is essential. If you want to lift like a cyclist, focus on the upper body with bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, and overhead presses, which can help you stabilize on even the leanest road bike. To perfect your archery skills, try out some lat pulls and tricep pull-backs, which support the precise release of the arrow for supreme accuracy. For a gymnast, weight training is highly focused on body weight exercises, particularly those the build the core muscles. Leg lifts and planks are great ways to build gymnastic level strength and endurance.

Running and Cycling:

Even the fastest runners had to start somewhere; no one is born ready to run 26 miles straight. If you want to gain the stamina of an Olympic runner or cyclist, the key is training in intervals. Cycle sprints and stair running can allow you to go much further than simply running longer and longer distances on level ground.

Source: MeMD Blog

10 Signs Your Child Is Ready to Potty Train

Potty trainingTiming is everything when it comes to potty-training success—and as any parent who’s been through it can tell you, trying to force the potty on a not-quite-ready kid only prolongs the process (and makes everyone miserable!). So how can you tell if your little one is ready to make the leap from diapers to the toilet? Check out these 10 signs that she’s ready:

1. She seems interested in the toilet, potty, or underpants.

2. He wants to watch you go.

3. She stays dry for two or more hours.

4. He poops on a predictable schedule.

5. She complains about wet or dirty diapers, and wants to be changed.

6. He can follow basic directions.

7. She understands potty lingo like “pee” and “poop.”

8. He tells you when he needs to go—or uses body language, like going into corner or grunting.

9. She can pull her pants down and up.

10. He can sit down on—and get up from—a potty chair.

Source: Parents Magazine

Protect Yourself From Skin Cancer

dreamstime_m_34581643One of the reasons we all look forward to the balmier months of summer is the ability to enjoy the sun once again. Sunshine warms us and makes us feel relaxed and happy.

But, as we all know, the sun’s rays can be harmful as well. Sunlight contains ultraviolet radiation, which is capable of causing cancer.

Each year, more than 1 million people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the country.

You don’t have become a hermit and hide from sunlight. But be smart about exposing your skin to the sun’s damaging rays. Here are steps you can take to reduce your risk of skin damage from the sun – and skin cancer:

Use sunscreen

Sunscreen is an important part of sun protection. Look for a product that provides a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, and is broad spectrum, which means it protects you from both UVA and UVB rays.

About 30 minutes before you go outside, apply a thick coating – about the amount in a shot glass – and be sure to reapply frequently, because all sunscreens break down in the sun after two to three hours. If you go in the water, reapply sunscreen after you dry off, even if it’s a water-resistant sunscreen.

Stay in the shade

Avoid the sun’s rays, especially during the midday hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun is highest and its rays are most direct. The time to seek shade under an umbrella, tree, or other protection is before you need relief from the sun. So if you’re in sunlight, keep an eye out for your skin turning pink or becoming sensitive.

UV rays still can reach you in the shade when you’re outside, so you still need to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing.

Cover your arms and legs

Long-sleeved shirts and long pants and skirts can protect you from UV rays. Although light-colored, loosely woven clothing is popular during the warm months, you may be surprised to learn that garments that are dark-colored or made from tightly woven fabric give more protection against the sun. The tightly woven fabric physically blocks the sun’s rays, while the dark color absorbs them. Also, wet clothing offers much less UV protection than dry.

A typical T-shirt has a SPF rating lower than 15, so don’t rely solely on clothing – use other types of protection as well, such as sunscreen.

Several companies sell clothing with ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), a sun protective factor built into the clothing, which includes swimwear, T-shirts and hats.

Wear a hat

Choose one with a wide brim that goes all the way around your head to shade your face, ears and neck. A tightly woven fabric, such as canvas, is best, and a darker hat may offer more UV protection.

Avoid straw hats with holes that let sunlight through. If you wear a baseball cap, protect your ears and the back of your neck by wearing clothing that covers those areas, use a sunscreen with at an SPF of at least 30, or stay in the shade.

Wear sunglasses

Sunglasses not only protect your eyes from UV rays and reduce the risk of cataracts, but they also protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure.

When you’re shopping for sunglasses, look for lenses that block UV rays. Most sunglasses sold in the United States, regardless of cost, meet this standard. Wrap-around sunglasses work best because they block UV rays that can come in from the side.

Do not use tanning beds

Tanning beds are like cigarettes: use them and you are flirting with developing cancer. Tanning beds can cause skin cancers, including melanoma – the deadliest type of skin cancer.

People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. Even occasional sunbed use almost triples your chances of developing melanoma. Young people – including teenagers – are especially sensitive to the UV rays that tanning beds emit.

Need any more reasons to avoid tanning beds? Exposure to UV radiation that these devices emit also can cause cataracts and cancers of the eye. There’s no good reason to lie in a tanning bed.

If you like the look of a tan, try sunless tanners or bronzers, which are cosmetics applied to the skin like a cream and can provide a temporary, artificial tan. The only color additive currently approved by FDA for this purpose is dihydroxyacetone (DHA).

Not all sunless tanners or bronzers provide protection against the sun. Read the labels to find out if they do.

Source: Cleveland Clinic Blog

Ruby-Red Raspberry Smoothie

Raspberry juice on wooden table
Raspberry juice on wooden table with mint leaves and a spoon full of raspberries

With nutty almond milk and creamy almond butter, this raspberry smoothie will blast off your day with healthy fat, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.


11⁄4 cups unsweetened almond milk
1⁄2 cup frozen unsweetened raspberries
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons creamy almond butter
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon pomegranate powder (can substitute 3 strawberries)


  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and start to blend on low speed, gradually increasing to high speed.
  2. Blend until creamy and smooth.

Nutrition information

Each 2-cup serving contains:

calories 430
fat 31 g
saturated fat 2g
cholesterol 0mg
fiber 15g
protein 13g
carbohydrates 31g
sodium 320mg

From the book, Eat Fat, Get Thin, by Mark Hyman, MD