It’s a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg question: Should you floss before you brush, or the other way around? Even the experts have varying opinions. Here’s a look at surprising flossing recommendations from five leading dentists:
“I’ve always advised patients to floss before they brush to break up and remove the plaque matrix between the teeth before going in with the toothbrush to sweep away the bacteria and debris they’ve dislodged with flossing.”– -Mark Barry, DDS, associate dean for clinical affairs and professor, division of oral medicine, Medical University of South Carolina.
“It makes more sense, particularly for kids, to floss after brushing so you can see what you’ve missed with the toothbrush. Also, if you floss first, debris might get pushed back between the gums when you brush. It’s also important to use the right flossing technique: make a C-shape with the floss and wrap it around each tooth to clean the surface, rather than just snapping the floss up and down, which doesn’t clean the structures properly.”– –Mary Hayes, DDS, American Dental Association spokesperson.Mary Hayes, DDS, American Dental Association spokesperson.
“It doesn’t matter whether you floss first or brush first, because you are cleaning different surfaces of the teeth. That’s why flossing is crucial: It’s the only way to clean between the teeth, since a toothbrush can’t reach these crevices.”– Ruchi Sahota, DDS, American Dental Association spokesperson and general dentist in Fremont, CA CA
“The biggest thing is to remember to brush twice a day and floss once, spending several minutes removing plaque and debris between the teeth. It takes 24 to 48 hours for oral bacteria to organize into plaque, so as long as you dislodge the plaque at least once a day by flossing, you’re protecting your oral health.”– –Ron Burakoff, DDM, MPH, DMD, MPH, Chair & Professor, Department of Dental Medicine, Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of MedicineRon Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine
“Either order is OK. My recommendation is to floss at night, before you go to bed. When you’re sleeping, you produce less saliva to clean your teeth and gums, so oral bacteria are free to do more damage. Therefore, it’s important to brush, floss scrape your tongue every night to get rid of bacteria and go to bed with your mouth as clean as possible.”–Ronald DDS, President, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry
The official American Dental Association’s (ADA) stance is that it doesn’t really matter if you floss before or after you brush. However, flossing before you brush can clean out the spaces between your teeth and allow for more coverage and penetration by the fluoride in your toothpaste.
The way we see it, as long as you’re flossing and brushing daily, you’re doing your body a huge favor. Taking good care of your teeth and gums can not only add years to your life, it also lowers risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes—and even memory-robbing disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. A study of nearly 5,000 older adults found that those who brushed their teeth less than once a day were up to 65% more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed daily.
And here’s even more motivation to brush and floss: A new CDC study reports that nearly 65 million Americans—one out every two adults ages 30 and older—have gum disease, a far higher rate than has previously been reported. That’s dangerous, since a 2012 American Heart Association scientific statement reports that periodontal (gum) disease is a strong, independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and stroke).
A dentist can tell you if you have gum disease and help prevent it with a good deep cleaning. At Sprig Health, we’ve teamed up with top dental clinics in the Portland and Seattle area who offer great prices on a wide range of dental services—no insurance required. It’s a great way to boost your oral health routine (no matter what order you do it in!)
“Bundle up—you’ll catch your death of cold!” was the grim warning my mother gave me every time the temperature dropped below 60 degrees. Only much later did I learn that being cold doesn’t cause colds, viruses do.
That’s just one of the many health myths that’s passed from generation to generation—and the longer they persist, the more they seem like fact. In reality, some conventional health wisdom is not so wise—and can even be harmful to your body.
We’ve rounded up seven of the most common health misconceptions, along with the facts behind the fiction:
Drink eight glasses of water a day.
Fact: While drinking eight glasses of water a day is a great idea, the truth is, lots of drinks—and even foods—have water in them. Of course, drinking more water won’t hurt you, but there are other ways to get your recommended daily amount than just water alone. Just try to avoid sugary drinks like soda and processed juices.
Reading in dim light ruins your eyesight.
Fact: According to a British Medical Journal report, while reading by candlelight or in dim lighting can cause eyestrain, it won’t cause any serious or lasting damage, ophthalmologists report.
Experts theorize that this belief arose because eyestrain can make it harder to focus, making it seem as if vision is being harmed. Dry eyes can also be an uncomfortable, but temporary result of straining to read in dim light.
Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis.
Fact: It might make an annoying sound, but cracking your knuckles won’t lead to aching joints down the road, according to several studies. Ironically, cracking your knuckles may even help prevent osteoarthritis (OA). Recently, a team of Defense Department-funded researchers reported that OA of the hands was slightly more common (18.1 percent versus 21.5 percent) in people who didn’t crack their knuckles, compared those who did.
Going out with wet hair will make you sick.
Fact: Despite your mom’s dire predictions, having cold, damp hair doesn’t make you more susceptible to coming down with the sniffles. In one recent study, researchers put cold viruses in the noses of two groups of people, and one group was then exposed to cold, wet conditions. People who were chilled were no more likely to get sick than those who weren’t. The best way to ward off colds and other contagious diseases is by washing your hands frequently with soap and water.
You have to wait an hour before you go swimming.
Fact: The idea that swimming on a full stomach can induce cramps—and subsequently cause a swimmer to drown—is one health myth you can throw overboard. According to multiple experts, eating shortly before swimming is physiologically unlikely to cause any serious problems.
Gum stays in your stomach for seven years.
Fact: Gum is indigestible, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it for a prolonged period of time if you swallow it. Gum, although not intended for consumption, goes through the same digestion process as other foods. It might take a little longer to make its way out, but that time is measured in days, not years.
Feed a fever; starve a cold.
Fact: Experts say it’s a really bad idea to starve yourself when you’re sick. If you can tolerate food when you have a cold or flu, you should eat a well-balanced meal to help rebuild your immune system. Aim for plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean protein and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
Of course, the best way to get the straight scoop on your medical questions is to ask your doctor. At SprigHealth.com, you’ll find affordable doctor appointments for up to 50% off standard rates. So even if you’re uninsured, you can still have access to the care (and answers!) you need to stay healthy.
Salt was such a valuable commodity that it was eventually used for currency (the word salary is derived from the Latin word for salt.) Because it was so rare, salt carried a certain prestige and coined phrases that we still use today: a successful person is “worth his/her salt” and a good person is “the salt of the earth.”
These days, acquiring salt is as easy as reaching for the shaker on the table. And Americans do so liberally—in fact, the daily sodium consumption in America averages 3,436 mg. That’s over 1,000 mg more than the highest recommended intake.
Make no mistake about it: salt is essential for human health. It helps maintain hydration and keeps electrolytes balanced in our body’s fluids. But human behavior can thwart nature’s checks and balances by taking in much more sodium than we need. High sodium levels increase blood pressure, putting people at higher risk for heart disease and stroke.
Most researchers, scientific advisory boards, and government agencies agree that reducing dietary salt will lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of hypertension, heart attack and stroke, and save lives — up to 150,000 lives a year in the United States alone, according to the American Medical Association Council on Science and Public Health. And in this era of rapidly rising health care costs, it’s important to note that cutting down on salt would save us up to $24 billion a year.
So, just how much salt are we talking about? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommends reducing sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. They also recommend further reducing sodium to 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day if:
- You are 51 years of age or older.
- You are African American.
- You have high blood pressure.
- You have diabetes.
- You have chronic kidney disease.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
As Americans, we’ve gotten used to the taste in of salt in our foods—so cutting back can be challenging. Still, there are some simple ways to reduce your intake—here are six tips to hold the salt.
If you’re having trouble shaking that salt habit, a nutritionist can help. They’ll teach you how to prepare meals that are low in salt and big in flavor. Some will even go grocery shopping with you to show you which foods are hidden sources of sodium. We’ve teamed up with a wide range of great nutritionists in the Portland and Seattle area who offer nutrition counseling sessions starting for as little as $30.
With a few simple changes, you’ll find it’s easy to hold the salt. And the health benefits you’ll gain are sweet indeed.
Many financial experts will tell you that a little bargaining power can go a long way when you’re making an important purchase. But unfortunately, the one place where consumers never seem to get a price break is health care.
As a recent Time Magazine article points out, health care is a seller’s market. And as buyers, we have little knowledge of the billing process or ability to negotiate. In the article, journalist Steven Brill discovered that health care services often bear little relationship to costs. For instance, in studying hospital bills, Brills learned that some hospitals mark up acetaminophen by as much as 10,000%. That’s not the only shocking figure: According to the study, the estimated cost of health care in the U.S. this year will ring up to about $2.8 trillion dollars.
(Click here to see a breakdown of the numbers.)
These high prices can take a hefty bite out of your budget. Today, per capita health care spending is around $8,000 a year—and at the average wage, a typical American worker would have to work about 58 days to cover it.
The statistics are frustrating, but they also serve as a catalyst for reform like the Affordable Care Act and are leading to increased demand for better transparency and price regulation.
At Sprig Health, our mission is to connect people to low-cost health services like mammograms, primary care, naturopathic treatments, dental and vision care. We’ve teamed up with over 300 providers in the Portland and Seattle area who share our belief that everyone deserves affordable access to health care.
The proof is in the prices, which are listed right up front for every service. On our website, you’ll find sports physicals starting at just $20. Eye exams for just $80. And essential screening tests like mammograms for as little as $125. We keep costs low by eliminating insurance from the equation—since doctors don’t have to deal with paperwork, they pass the savings on to you.
Bottom line: as a consumer, you have a right to demand fair pricing, whether you’re buying a home, a car, or the care you need to stay healthy.
When you feel stress, your body responds by raising your blood pressure and pulse. You breathe faster. Your bloodstream is flooded with hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. This physical chain reaction can lead to a host of health problems like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, and weight gain.
Some people turn to alcohol, tobacco or drugs to take the edge off their stress. But unfortunately, instead of relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems—talk about a catch-22. Consider the following*:
- •Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- •Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
- Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declares stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
- The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.
Before you get too stressed out about being stressed out, there’s some good news: Following some simple stress management techniques like can lower both your stress and your health risks. Regular exercise, meditation, keeping a journal, or connecting with a friend can all help you achieve a more relaxed state. If you’re short on time, (and who isn’t?) here are some seven great ways to de-stress in a minute or less.
If your stress becomes too much to handle on your own, consider recruiting some professional help. A mental health counselor can teach you healthier ways of dealing with the inevitable stress that life will throw your way. If cost is an issue, no worries: Sprig offers mental health appointments in Portland and Seattle starting at just $40. And with no insurance required, you won’t have to hassle with a bunch of claim forms—which is one less thing to stress about.
We’ve been working hard to let more people know about how Sprig Health helps individuals access affordable health care. Sometimes we want to shout it from the rooftops—but instead, we’re taking a more strategic approach with a great new ad campaign. It’s designed to let people know that whether you’re uninsured, have a high deductible or just looking for a way to stretch your health dollars further, Sprig can help you save big.
We’re pretty excited about the campaign, so we thought we’d share some highlights:
Sprig will also be seen on-the-go in Portland with bold ads on the back of Tri-Met buses. Here are a few examples:
Seattle, we’ve got you covered with radio ads on Star 101 featuring host Jill Taylor. You’ll also see ads in Seattle Met and the May issue of Women’s Health Annual, as well as online banner ads with the Seattle Times. Here’s an example:
Of course, one of the best forms of advertising is word of mouth. If you’ve had a great experience with Sprig Health, we hope you’ll pass the word along to your friends and family. The more people know about Sprig, the more we can change health care for the better.
Tell us: have you seen any Sprig Health ads lately?
Thousands of years ago, the “accepted” eye test was to stare up into the night sky at the Big Dipper. You were looking for Alcor, the second star in the handle. Right next to it is its fainter optical double, Mizar. If you could see them as two separate stars, your vision was considered to be adequate. It’s even said that one Babylonian military officer used the test to recruit the best archers into his army.
These days, instead of staring at constellations that are 88-million light years away, we use an eye chart that’s 20 feet away. Not only is it more accurate, it also doesn’t require clear weather or late-night appointments. The other advantage to modern-day testing is that now if the doctor finds something wrong with your vision, something can be done to correct it.
WHEN TO HAVE AN EYE EXAM
Several factors determine how frequently you need an eye exam, including your age, health and risk of developing eye problems. It’s important for children to be checked as well as adults, since vision problems can interfere with the ability to learn in school. The Mayo Clinic offers some great general guidelines on vision testing for the whole family.
WHAT TO EXPECT
•When you go for your eye exam, you’ll be asked about your medical history and any vision problems you might be experiencing.
•Next, your visual acuity will be measured. This helps determine your prescription for glasses or contacts if you need them. The average person has 20/20 vision; click here to find out what that means.
•The doctor will measure your eye pressure, possibly using drops that enlarge your pupils.
•Your eye doctor will also use a bright light to evaluate the front of the eye and inside of each eye.
•Finally, your eye doctor will discuss what they found during the exam and answer any questions you might hae.
WHERE TO FIND AFFORDABLE TESTING
If you’re among the two-thirds of adults who need vision correction, you know vision care often comes at eye-popping prices. Many eye exams aren’t covered by insurance; if multiple members of your family need vision care, you can easily spend hundreds of dollars in a single year.
At SprigHealth.com, we’ve teamed up with top vision specialists in the Portland and Seattle area to offer vision care at a fraction of the standard market price. In fact, prices for a standard eye exam start at just $80. With no insurance required and easy online scheduling, the advantages of Sprig Health are pretty easy to see—even without glasses.