Health Care and Cosmetic Dental Care

If you are concerned about the quality of your smile, there are many ways to take care of your teeth and gums that help produce good oral hygiene and give you a quality visual appearance. More now than ever before the interest in cosmetic dental work has been growing at a rapid pace. Dental offices are offering teeth whitening, and that consumer interest also has been exploding in the retail market with all types of products that are available to make your teeth whiter.

In addition to getting a brighter smile, cosmetic dentistry has huge dollars going into veneers, bonding, implants, orthodontia, grills, and other types of dental work. People want their pearly whites to look like the ones that movie stars have; and if they can afford it, the cosmetic work for a brighter, whiter, more beautiful mouth is where they spend their money. But, cosmetic dental work is not cheap. And, in most cases it is not covered on most dental insurance plans.

According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), a skilled, experienced cosmetic dentist can help to improve your appearance, your smile, even your self-esteem, and confidence. Today, cosmetic dentistry has continued to evolve to where cosmetic dentists can address functional and esthetic patient concerns. While you feel you know a beautiful smile when you see one, there is no perfect smile.

That�s because each person has a different perception of what is beautiful; you and your cosmetic dentist may even have a difference of opinion. So it�s important that you discover what you really like and then communicate that to your dentist. There have been great advances in materials used in the field of dentistry in the past few years,with crowns and bridges improving by leaps and bounds, according to the AACD.

Selecting a cosmetic dentist is crucial. The first step is to look at your smile and determine what you want to change. Your cosmetic dentist may have some other concerns when you visit, but it's best to arrive having your own wish list. Next, ask your family and friends for referrals. Evaluate the skill level of those dentists you are considering, then check the credentials and experience level. At your consultation appointment, be sure to ask again about their experience level and if you can see some photographs of their work.

Have an honest discussion with your dentist about your cosmetic goals to be sure they're realistic. Then discuss the risks, benefits, and alternatives to the recommended procedures. Finally, ask about the cost and treatment time frame. Much more info about this subject is available at this site: .

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), if you have stained, broken or uneven teeth, cosmetic dentistry can help. Cosmetic dentistry is different from orthodontic treatment, which can straighten your teeth with braces or other devices. You can visit this website for many additional resources: . Plus, some additional tips about cosmetic dental procedures include:

         Bleaching to make teeth whiter
         Repairing chips or rough spots with fillings that match your teeth
         Filling cavities with tooth-colored materials
         Reshaping teeth that don't match the others
         Closing gaps between teeth
         Covering broken teeth with porcelain crowns

The rough-and-tumble of life can result in chipped or cracked teeth. Your teeth may look dingy or yellow, or worse, according to Aetna. Habits such as smoking or drinking coffee also stain teeth.  Until fairly recently, the average person couldn't do much about how teeth looked. In the past two decades, however, dental materials and techniques have greatly improved. Now, most people can have almost model-perfect teeth using materials that resist color changes and are almost as strong as the originals.

There's never been a better time to brighten your smile or fix imperfections. Demand for cosmetic dental procedures is greater than ever. That's partly because baby boomers with money to spend are looking for ways to feel and look younger. However, you should keep a few things in mind while making your decision:

         It can be expensive. For example, porcelain tooth veneers may cost $600 to $2,000 per tooth.
         Insurance doesn't cover most cosmetic procedures.
         Materials aren't indestructible. Crowns, inlays and veneers are stronger and more durable than they used to be, but they won't last forever. They may crack or chip or the cement may weaken. They may have to be redone within 10 to 15 years.

It's important to be realistic. Cosmetic dentists are enhancers. They can manipulate, shape and polish materials to create dazzling smiles. What they can't do is change the shape of your mouth or your overall appearance. In order for tooth restorations to truly look natural, they have to work for you. Cosmetic dentistry can improve your appearance; it won't completely transform it.

One of the benefits of cosmetic dentistry is that the final results are easy to predict, if only cosmetic problems are being fixed. Whether you decide to have a gap filled, a chip repaired or a stain concealed, you're unlikely to have unpleasant surprises later. But if the work is more extensive, such as a full mouth reconstruction, then results are not as predictable. More info can be located at this website:

For a very affordable way to pay for cosmetic dental work, you may wish to buy a dental discount plan that includes access to providers in network. All cosmetic procedures are usually included at a discounted rate. One plan in particular that is very inexpensive and provides savings on all cosmetic and general dentistry is available through Careington International. For more information about the plan and how it works, visit their website at

Remember, having perfect teeth is only in a perfect world. It doesn�t exist. However, you can buy perfect teeth, but consider the cost before you go. Research dentists who can do good work, and follow their directions once the dental procedures have been completed. Paying for a new smile is expensive, but may be worth the investment if you are interested in that movie star look.

Until next time.

Health Care and Short Term Memory Loss

There�s a long standing joke about people who can�t remember where they put their keys, or what they were supposed to buy at the grocery store, or where they parked their car at the shopping mall, or what instructions to follow:

Two men met on the city street in the evening, and had a number of drinks together. The one who lived in the suburbs became confidential, and exhibited a string tied around a finger.

"I don't dare to go home," he explained. "There's something my wife told me to do, without fail, and to make sure I wouldn't forget, she tied that string around my finger. But for the life of me I can't remember what the thing was I am to do. And I don't dare to go home!"

A few days later the two men met again, this time in the afternoon. "Well," the one asked, "did you finally remember what that string was to remind you of?" The other showed great gloom in his expression, as he replied:

"I didn't go home until the next night, just because I was scared, and then my wife told me what the string was for all right--she certainly did!" There was a note of pain in his voice. "The string was to remind me to be sure to come home early."

You might laugh at such a silly story, but the actual truth is that short term memory loss, beyond just being an inconvenience or temporarily embarrassing, can be a problem for many people�especially if it persists or gets worse. It can be dangerous, and may be a precursor of more problematic health issues such as alzheimer�s or dementia. Short-term memory loss can be a natural side effect of aging, or can be caused by disease, injury, stress, or as a side effect of drug use.

You have difficulty concentrating or it feels like your short-term memory isn�t as good as it used to be. You may also notice that normal tasks seem hard to focus on, you are more forgetful, you forget things that you normally wouldn�t, or you have difficulty forming thoughts or carrying on conversations.

You may also start something and uncharacteristically forget what you were doing soon after. You may also have difficulty remembering where you placed things, who you just called, what you just talked about, or what you were looking for or thinking about. You uncharacteristically may have difficulty remembering what you just ate, phone numbers, names, or things you recently did. Things that you would normally not forget, you now do.

According to a report issued by Rutgers University, short-term memory refers to memories which last for a few minutes. Unlike sensory memory, which is stored in the exact form it was experienced, short-term memory has received some processing; thus, "A" is stored not as a visual stimulus, but as an abstract concept of the letter "A". Short-term memory is of limited capacity, usually 5-9 items ("7-plus-or-minus-two"). Beyond this capacity, new information can "bump" out other items from short-term memory. This is one form of forgetting.

Objects in short-term memory can be of indefinite complexity: thus short-term memory can hold several numbers, or several words, or several complex concepts simultaneously. Thus, while an individual may only be able to remember seven random digits, it may be possible to remember more digits if they are "chunked" into meaningful objects: thus, "1776-2001-1941" represents twelve separate digits -- well beyond most people's capacity -- but only three easily-remembered chunks.

Items can be maintained indefinitely in short-term memory by rehearsal: e.g. by repeating the information over and over again. An example would be a seven-digit phone number, which is maintained in short-term memory by repetition until the number is dialed, and then fades from short-term memory once the conversation starts. Repetition may also increase the probability that items in short-term memory will enter permanent storage in long-term memory. More details about how your memory works can be found at this website: .

When testing for any type of memory loss, a doctor will take a medical history and perhaps ask a few questions to test a patient's memory. Other exams may include cognitive testing to check the patient's mental status and ability to think. The doctor may also order blood tests to check for various conditions including vitamin B-12 deficiency and thyroid disease, according to

Depending on the results, other tests may include an MRI or CT scan of the head and an EEG to measure electrical activity in the brain. A cerebral angiography may also be ordered to examine blood flow to the brain. If the cause of the short-term memory is related to a psychological trauma, a therapist or psychologist may be consulted.

One of the most common suggestions for a better short-term memory is to use mnemonics. Mnemonics is the technique of attaching a word, phrase or image to an object. One example of a mnemonic is the trick many people learned in school to remember how many days are in a month. �Thirty days hath September, April, June and November �� You can also use the trick to remember things such as a name, such as "Rob wore a red shirt."

Another trick is to have someone put a number of objects out on a table. Give yourself 30 seconds to memorize them. Then take the objects away and try to write down as many as you can in 30 seconds. Doing activities that engage your brain, such as Sudoku and crossword puzzles, and reading in general can also help improve your memory. More material on this subject can be found at this site:

And did you know chewing gum impairs short term memory? According to Prevention Magazine, a study out of Cardiff University in the UK found that not only does chewing gum not help your short term memory: It impairs it.  In a series of three experiments, 97 university students were asked to recall either a short sequence of letters or identify the missing item in a list.

They performed significantly worse when chewing gum, no matter how vigorously or how lazily they chomped. Researchers speculate that the tongue, mouth, and jaw movements of gum chewing disrupt short-term memory. More info on this topic can be found at this site:

Much more detail on memory loss in general can be found at the National Institutes for Health (NIH) website:

Short term memory loss may be just a sign of being distracted or some other issues that are not really problematic. However, it could be a signal that more serious mental health problems are developing. If you are seeing this condition develop more and more in yourself or someone you know, see your doctor for testing. Don�t excuse it away, or you might forget why.

Until next time.

Health Care and Sepsis

Bloodstream infections -- also known as sepsis -- occur in about 10 percent of hospital patients in the United States but contribute to as many as half of all hospital deaths, a new study says by the American Thoracic Society (ATS). Sepsis is common, affecting as many as 750,000 hospitalized patients in the United States each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As reported in, even though hospitalization rates fell between 2000 and 2010, the number of sepsis-related deaths among hospital patients rose 17 percent during that time, from 45,000 to 135,000. Sepsis is the most expensive cause of hospitalization in the United States, with an annual cost of more than $24 billion, according to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.  More info on this topic can also be found at this site: .

Medical professionals have been debating the exact definition of sepsis for decades, according to the Sepsis Alliance. However, one thing they can agree upon is the origin of the disease. The word sepsis comes from the Greek meaning �decay� or �to putrefy.� In medical terms, sepsis is defined as either �the presence of pathogenic organisms or their toxins in the blood and tissues� or �the poisoned condition resulting from the presence of pathogens or their toxins as in septicemia.�

Patients are given a diagnosis of sepsis when they develop clinical signs of infections or systemic inflammation; sepsis is not diagnosed based on the location of the infection or by the name of the causative microbe. Physicians draw from a list of signs and symptoms in order to make a diagnosis of sepsis, including abnormalities of body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and white blood cell count. Sepsis may be diagnosed in a 72-year-old man with pneumonia, fever, and a high white blood cell count, and in a 3-month-old with appendicitis, low body temperature, and a low white blood cell count.

Sepsis is defined as severe when these findings occur in association with signs of organ dysfunction, such as hypoxemia, oliguria, lactic acidosis, elevated liver enzymes, and altered cerebral function. Nearly all victims of severe sepsis require treatment in an intensive care unit for several days or weeks. While most cases of sepsis are associated with disease or injury, many events follow routine, even elective surgery.

Sepsis can rage in response to incidents as seemingly benign as a playground scrape or a nicked cuticle from the beauty parlor. Sepsis has been named as the expensive in-patient cost in American hospitals. Forty percent of patients diagnosed with severe sepsis do not survive. Until a cure for sepsis is found, early detection is the surest hope for survival. Up to 50% of survivors suffer from post-sepsis syndrome. More information can be found at this website: .

According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), sepsis is an illness in which the body has a severe response to bacteria or other germs. This response may be called systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS). A bacterial infection anywhere in the body may set off the response that leads to sepsis. Common places where an infection might start include:

         The bloodstream
         The bones (common in children)
         The bowel (usually seen with peritonitis)
         The kidneys (upper urinary tract infection or pyelonephritis)
         The lining of the brain (meningitis)
         The liver or gallbladder
         The lungs (bacterial pneumonia)
         The skin (cellulitis)

For patients in the hospital, common sites of infection include intravenous lines, surgical wounds, surgical drains, and sites of skin breakdown known as bedsores (decubitus ulcers). In sepsis, blood pressure drops, resulting in shock. Major organs and body systems including the kidneys, liver, lungs, and central nervous system stop working properly because of poor blood flow. A change in mental status and very fast breathing may be the earliest signs of sepsis. In general, symptoms of sepsis can include:

         Confusion or delirium
         Fever or low body temperature (hypothermia)
         Light-headedness due to low blood pressure
         Rapid heartbeat
         Skin rash
         Warm skin
         Bruising or bleeding may also occur.

A person with sepsis will look very sick, according to the NIH. If you have sepsis, you will be admitted to a hospital, usually in the intensive care unit (ICU). Antibiotics are usually given through a vein (intravenously). Oxygen and large amounts of fluids are given through a vein. Other medical treatments include:

         Medications that increase blood pressure
         Dialysis if there is kidney failure
         A breathing machine (mechanical ventilation) if there is lung failure 

In the hospital, careful hand washing and proper care of urinary catheters and IV lines can help prevent infections that lead to sepsis. Much more material on the subject of sepsis can be found at this website:

Sepsis can affect people of any age according to, but is more common in
infants under 3 months, whose immune systems haven't developed enough to fight off overwhelming infections, including the following:

         The elderly
         People with chronic medical conditions
         Those whose immune systems are compromised from conditions such as HIV or cancer.

If your infant is less than 3 months old, has a rectal temperature of 100.4�F (38�C), seems lethargic, irritable, uninterested in eating, having difficulty breathing or appears ill, take your baby to see a doctor immediately. More info can be found at this site:

According to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), severe sepsis and septic shock represent one of the oldest and most pressing problems in medicine. With advances in intensive care, increased awareness, and dissemination of evidence-based guidelines, clinicians have taken large strides in reducing the risk of imminent death associated with sepsis. However, as more patients survive sepsis, concern mounts over the lingering sequelae of what was previously a lethal event.

Strategies are also needed to reach the many millions of patients with sepsis who are far from modern intensive care. At the same time, advances in molecular biology have provided keen insight into the complexity of pathogen and alarm recognition by the human host and important clues to a host response that has gone awry, according to the NEJM. However, harnessing that information to provide effective new therapies has proved to be difficult. To further improve the outcome of patients with sepsis through the development of new therapeutic agents, newer, smarter approaches to clinical-trial design and execution are essential. Much more clinical material can be found at this website:

Sepsis can be deadly. Do all you can to avoid it if possible, but if diagnosed get immediacte and aggressive medical treatment. If you may be in a high risk category, please avoid any issues or situations that can lead to a possible infection. Know your body, and recognize possible symptoms.

Until next time.

$250K fine for lying on health insurance forms

This came out Friday from the administration.  If you intentionally lied to get subsidy you could face $250,000 in IRS fines.  If you just made a mistake with no malicious intent, it could still be a lesser $25,000 fine.  Oh, and if you were less than truthful to avoid buying coverage during the last open enrollment, the fines could still apply. 

The Obama administration Friday spelled out civil fines of up to $250,000 for knowingly and willfully providing false information to get taxpayer-subsidized coverage under the new health care law.

Washington Post Article


Health Care and Black Mold

A certain toxic reaction in buildings of any type can occur when water damage takes place. If you are exposed to black mold, then the possibility of severe illness can happen. The term black mold strikes fear into the hearts of developers, real estate specialists, and inspectors, as well as building owners because of the expense, damage, and possible results of exposure and clean up. Certainly, black mold should be avoided at all cost and cleaned up as quickly as possible.

The term �mold illness� is a subcategory of biotoxin illness called Chronic Inflammatory ResponseSyndrome(CIRS). The proper definition of CIRS is:  an acute and chronic, systemic inflammatory response syndrome acquired following exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building with resident toxigenic organisms, including, but not limited to fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes and mycobacteria as well as inflammagens such as endotoxins, beta glucans, hemolysins, proteinases, mannans and possibly spirocyclic drimanes; as well as volatile organic compounds. The best discussion of the academic basis for this illness is found in the Expert Treating Physicians Consensus report published 7/2010.

Let start with some basic ideas: this illness is not an allergy. It is an inflammation within the body which is caused by an immune system that has gone haywire. More information can be found at this website:

The symptoms of black mold poisoning can often be difficult to identify, according to . The problems are usually so general that they may seem to be due to factors other than black mold. Because black mold symptoms can be so varied and so personal, you can have black mold poisoning with no symptoms, some symptoms or every symptom. Black mold does not cause problems in everyone.

When it does cause issues, it is often due to an allergic reaction to the mold, instead of symptoms of poisoning. Nevertheless, severe mold problems can lead to poisoning in some cases. If left untreated, the poisoning can be potentially serious. Here are some key symptoms:

         Asthma symptomscan be caused by black mold. This can include shortness of breathe and a tightening feeling in the chest. The mold can also cause more frequent asthma attacks for people with asthma.
         Flu-like symptomscan be caused by black mold. This can include fatigue, weakness, headache, nausea, fever and chills.
         Irritated eye symptoms can be caused by black mold. This can include sensitivity to sunlight, burning sensation in the eyes and red eyes.
         Respiratory symptomscan be caused by black mold. This can include sneezing, a runny nose, coughing, nasal congestion and throat irritation.
         Skin irritation symptomscan be caused by black mold. This can include a mild to severe rash or hives.

Toxic mold grows in wet areas, particularly if there has been recent water damage. Many areas that see frequent moisture, such as the corner of an old and cracked shower, can grow black mold. The toxic fungi can result in serious side effects, especially for infants and young children. More info can be found at this site:

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Sensitive individuals should avoid areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas. Inside homes, mold growth can be slowed by controlling humidity levels and ventilating showers and cooking areas. If there is mold growth in your home, you should clean up the mold and fix the water problem. In addition to finding information a this site:, there are more tips listed here. 

Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:

         Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
         Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
         Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
         If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document also applies to other building types. You can get it by going to the EPA web site at
         Always follow the manufacturer�s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.

According to the CDC, here are some recommendations:

         Keep humidity levels as low as you can�no higher than 50%--all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
         Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months.
         Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans.
         Add mold inhibitors to paints before application.
         Clean bathrooms with mold killing products.
         Do not carpet bathrooms and basements.
         Remove or replace previously soaked carpets and upholstery.

Never attempt to dispose of toxic black mold on your own, according to Residential Energy Services Network. Improper removal of mold can cause the release of high amounts of spores and mycotoxins. This can lead to cross contamination throughout the interior of the home and increases the chance of health issues.

If you discover toxic black mold in your residence you should contact a professional and if required in your state, a licensed mold remediation company. The removal of mold can be very extensive. Improper remediation of a toxic black mold condition can lead to cross contamination and require additional remediation and cleaning. While remediation is being performed, arrangements should be made for the home to be empty of residence. Some mold conditions can require long term remediation leaving the home inhabitable.

Toxic black mold grows at a slower rate than most molds. It requires a food source to be extremely wet for up to 7-10 days before it can start to grow. Typically your average mold will take 1-2 days to colonize, but toxic black mold can take up to 12 days before colonizing. Toxic black mold in a home will typically grow in a place that is not visible to the occupants. Because toxic black mold requires extensive moisture for a long period of time, it usually grows in a place where there has been a hidden water leak.

Many times the cause of toxic black mold growth is a plumbing leak hidden within the walls. Other causes include: water heater and washer leaks, shower and sink leaks and water entering into the interior by way of a construction failure.  More info about black mold remediation can be found at this site:

If you want to be safe, it is highly recommend you hire a professional company who has experience working with mold removal. They can advise you on the best cleanup process to completely get rid of your mold problems. You can find them typically through referrals or online, and the company should provide a free consultation:

         They will assess the situation at no cost to you.
         They will help you find mold that you may not have seen. This is very important because if you miss even a little mold, you remain at risk for health problems
         They have the knowledge and special equipment to safely remove mold without exposing you to further health problems.
         They can advise you on techniques that will help you complete the job safely if you opt to do the work yourself.

The dangers of black mold increase during the cleanup process because you will be increasing your exposure to the mold. In order to avoid the health effects of black mold, it is necessary to take precautionary steps in order to prevent cross contamination and also minimize the exposure. Wearing goggles, a mask, and other protective clothing can help you to avoid exposure to the spores. More details can be found at this site:

As well, here are some additional resources on this topic:
Mold: Signs, Types of Mold, Clean-up, Effects on Health, Toxins, Mold Prevention and more

Mold and Moisture in Homes - Minnesota Department of Health

Mold: Standards, Hazard Recognition, Detection Methods, Control and Clean-up - U.S. Department of Labor

Molds and Your Home: What You Need to Know - New York State Department of Labor

Black mold is something that can be prevented, but when it is found in any type of structure, you should act immediately to resolve the situation�not only for economic and environmental reasons, but also for your own physical and mental health and wellbeing .

Until next time.

New Medicare cards are coming starting in April

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will start mailing redesigned Medicare cards to beneficiaries in Washington state aft...