The winter months come with their own special health challenges. From delicious food everywhere you look to harsh weather conditions to the stress of creating a perfect holiday, the season can be challenging. To help ensure a happy, safe holiday season, experts from the University of Pennsylvania's health schools, as part of the One Health Initiative, are offering health tips each day this week.
Quit smoking and improve your gum health. Smoking affects the tissue and bone surrounding your teeth and increases your chance of getting periodontal (gum) disease, and untreated gum disease can eventually lead to tooth loss. Make a 2016 resolution to ask your dentist or dental hygienist for resources to help you stop smoking.
Prepare for the feasting. The period between Thanksgiving and the end of the year offers countless holiday parties, most of which will include some sort of food. It may sound counterintuitive, but don’t skip meals on those days; rather eat something healthy (think fruits or vegetables) ahead of time so you’re not arriving with your stomach grumbling.
Healthy eating helps your oral health.Simple steps, like drinking water instead of sodas or sports beverages, or eating fruit for dessert instead of sweet treats, will cut down sugar as well as overall calories, and help you reduce your risk for cavities as well as lose weight.
Get checked for oral cancer. Approximately 39,500 people in the U.S. were newly diagnosed with oral and oropharyngeal cancers in 2015, but if found early, they have an 80 to 90 % survival rate. A screening can be done quickly by your dentist; ask about one at your next dental exam.
The phrase “bulking up for winter” is no joke! Horses expend significantly more calories keeping warm in the winter than they do any other time of year. High-quality hay should be the staple of any winter diet, especially for horses that are outside a lot. They should have dry, fresh hay available at all times to keep their caloric losses less than their gains.
Keep your pets safe from poisonous plants this holiday season! Plants to be vigilant about include lilies, which are extremely toxic to cats, and holly, which can cause injury to the mouth, tongue, and lips, as well as severe vomiting and diarrhea. Toxicity from poinsettias is often exaggerated. The thick sap inside the stem is toxic, but a healthy dog or cat that eats part of the plant will only display symptoms such as vomiting, lack of appetite, and depression.
Build healthy teeth and gums. Make a dental visit a high priority in 2016 to help get your teeth and gums in the best shape possible. Yearly dental visits catch dental problems early, and brushing for two minutes, twice daily goes a long way to remove bacteria that cause both dental decay and gum disease. Cleaning in between teeth with floss or dental pics removes hard to reach bacteria, and using fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinses restores minerals in teeth to prevent decay.