Monthly Archives: October 2017

Experts: Brushing and Flossing Regularly Aren’t Enough

Think that brushing twice a day and flossing regularly are the only things you can do to help keep your teeth healthy? Well, think again. Chances are, you’re not doing enough to keep your teeth in ample shape. It turns out, there are a few other things you need to be doing.

Dr. Steven Lin, a dentist from Sydney, Australia, says that brushing won’t help you achieve impeccable mouth health. Dr. Lin believes that the key to ideal oral health isn’t actually in the brushing or flossing, but instead in what we eat.

The Australian Dental Association says that we should be brushing our teeth for at least two minutes each morning and night. In addition to that ever-important habit, we need to keep in mind the importance of a healthy diet.

Dr. Lin suggests we return to a diet that is full is fats, vitamin A, vitamin D, and K2. He spoke with News.Com.Au.

“Harmful foods that we eat are what fuels disease in the mouth,” Lin said. “Over time, we have stripped out foods that promote healthy teeth — like butter, meats, yolks and full fat dairy. If you don’t include these types of fats in your diet, you lose the ability to absorb those vitamins.”

32% of people say they are worried by what their teeth look like. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare says in 2013, 16% of adults with natural teeth say they’ve experienced a toothache in the past six months. These are issues that cause people to question what is going on with their teeth.

Dr. Lin says since the early 2000’s, there has been a shift toward a more functional oral hygiene routine. This shift includes the elimination of the use of mouthwash.

“I would never recommend mouthwash, it’s like throwing a grenade into the mouth,” Lin said. “Bad breath is a problem with microbiome in the mouth and mouthwash takes no consideration to microbiomes.

Taking these extra steps and cutting out unneeded foods and treatments will set you on a path toward exceptional oral health.

Record 2016 Roadway Deaths Spark Concern For Upcoming Winter Driving

Motor vehicle crashes were one of the leading causes of death in the United States last year, and the same will be true this year as well.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which collected data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, there were 37,461 roadway fatalities in 2016, an increase of 5.6% from the previous year.

Drivers, no matter who is driving or where they are, have to be extremely careful at all times when they’re behind the wheel.

This is especially concerning as winter is just around the corner. When driving conditions are poor, roadway injuries and fatalities shoot up past their already high levels. In Minnesota, drivers are already seeing these dangerous winter road conditions as a truck driver was recently killed due to icy road conditions.

According to TwinCities Pioneer Press, drivers were killed as a result of wintery conditions as early as October.

Snow had accumulated just a little bit in Minneapolis, but it was enough to cause severe issues out on the roads and take the life of a 44-year-old man from Duluth. The driver, whose name has not been released, lost control of his tractor-trailer just before a bridge along the snowy Interstate 35 at 4:30a.m. The truck went over the bridge into the St. Louis River and the driver’s body was eventually found at 9:00 a.m.

Sadly, another young driver lost his life that same morning after losing control of his Kia while trying to pass another vehicle. Alvaro Ambriz Rodriguez, 26, lost control of his car as he slid into oncoming traffic and was fatally struck by a semi-truck. The truck driver was uninjured.

Truck drivers across the country have to make sure they are especially alert and staying as careful as possible on the roadways because even the slightest mishap can result in taking the life of another driver. Of the 3,3,82 people who were killed in large truck accidents in 2015, only 16% of those fatalities were the drivers of those trucks. Nearly 70% of those deaths were drivers in other vehicles involved in the accidents, and 15% were pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists.

Both large truck drivers and average drivers need to be aware of how to effectively drive during snowy and icy road conditions. Here are the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) recommendations for operating a vehicle in dangerous winter roadway conditions:

  • Avoid driving at all while fatigued (especially for truck drivers who are on long-distance winter trips).
  • Pay attention to weather reports prior to any trip, especially when driving in isolated areas. Delay your trip whenever severely bad weather is expected.
  • Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it properly inspected and taking excellent care of it.

Also, drivers and passengers alike should know where the closest urgent care facilities are in the event of being involved in or witnessing a roadway accident. Approximately 85% of urgent care centers are open all seven days during the week. Call emergency crews if you have been involved in a serious accident or have witnessed one.

H7N9: Terrifying Flu Virus Could Turn Into a Pandemic

Every year, between 5% and 20% of the U.S. population gets the flu.

October marks the beginning of flu season in the United States. The flu vaccine has been improved to better match various viruses that are expected to lead to medical issues, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to Accu Weather, current flu shots now contain updated influenza A component, which reflects the constantly adapting flu virus environment.

“Generally, people with influenza are very ill,” said Dr. Mark Beahm, a family medicine doctor with the Mayo Clinic Health System. “To put it in simple terms, they look like they’ve been hit by a bus. They’re very achy and tired. They complain of headaches, sore throat, body aches, joint aches, and they often times have high fevers and a cough.”

Usually, catching the flu results in about a week or two of feeling off, missing some work, and taking it easy for a couple of days — though it could be much worse if things become severe. Unfortunately, there is a terrifying flu going around that could soon turn into a pandemic.

The Atlantic reports that H7N9 is at the top of the CDC’s Most Wanted list for flu viruses.

The CDC evaluates every disease and gives them two scores out of 10 to reflect how likely they are to trigger a worldwide pandemic and how catastrophic it would be. The H7N9 virus scored a 6.5 for emergence and a 7.5 for potential impact.

The H7 virus affects birds and has been shown to very rarely impact humans, but this could still lead to severe health concerns.

“This is very difficult to assess because we only see the more severe infections who present to hospitals,” said Malik Peiris of the University of Hong Kong. “This is an issue that needs to be closely monitored in the upcoming winter season.”

Implementation of New App Helps Reduce Employee Turnover

Businessman Gary Abram, who has showed an interest in the fields of motivation and positive thinking, has come up with a smartphone app named Tak. The app is built based on the belief that employee recognition and rewards can increase morale and performance.

The idea surfaced after Abram sat in a board meeting for St. Mary’s Medical Center in Blue Springs, Missouri. He heard hospital CEO Deb Ohnoutka state that nearly one in four nurses were quitting every year, causing a massive employee turnover for the industry.

Health providers are desperate for ways to reduce this employee turnover rate. Some providers are beginning to use recruiting and talent acquisition technologies in an attempt to reduce health systems’ turnover rates by using predictive analysis.

Abram began thinking of a way to reduce this inefficient and expensive turnover, and thought that maybe by helping people see that their good work is noticed, they’d be more likely to stay in their position and continue to strive to do good work.

One year after the implementation of Tak, Ohnoutka said it appears to do what it was intended to do. Nurse turnover dropped from 24% to 17%.

“Our theory is that intrinsic rewards are more powerful than extrinsic rewards,” said Abram.

The app works by allowing each bit of thanks or recognition to be entered in the app, which in turn earns points for the recipient. These points can then add up and be redeemed for free food or gifts.

Ohnoutka says she’s surprised that not many points are being redeemed, and the program isn’t costing as much as she had expected.

“They’re really not using the money,” she said, “It’s more about being thanked, getting recognized, and seeing if they can get on the leaderboard.”

A variety of employee recognition programs have been proven to work. In fact, 86% of companies that use some kind of employee recognition program say they saw an increase in worker happiness.

A residential treatment center, Kids TLC, was Tak’s second customer. CEO Gordon Docking decided to make it available for the entire 250-person staff.

A few minor glitches, like employees giving themselves recognition in order to earn points, were noticed, and promptly fixed. A tracking program was also implemented to ensure a small group of employees weren’t just giving each other recognition to increase their points.

While Tak can be compared to other programs that “gamify” the workplace by giving points for things like clocking in on time and attending health programs, it’s different from the others. Users emphasize that it’s not the actual points or prizes that make a difference, it’s the recognition.

Sensors Used to Determine Slow Functional Decline in Assisted Living Residents

Researchers from the University of Missouri introduced the use of motion sensors in 86 assisted living resident’s rooms.

Approximately 85 other residents were treated with the usual care without the use of motion sensors. The motion sensors measured overall activity, breathing, restlessness and pulse, all with the help of an under-the-mattress motion tool. The sensors were also used to enable early detection of impending problems. Considering that around 40% of assisted living residents are assistance with three or more daily living activities, those still getting normal care could benefit from the activity assistance.

A gait sensor was also used to determine each resident’s speed, stride length, and the risk of a resident falling. Each resident who was a part of this experiment lived with their sensor for almost a year.

Staff members who worked with residents throughout this experiment received alerts when sensor data had changed. Every morning, the nurses working on this project would receive an email that included all of the alerts from the past 24 hours. Every member of the staff received real-time fall alerts so they could respond to the resident who had fallen immediately.

Researchers discovered a few things when study results came in. Their study revealed that those assisted living residents who received regular care had a faster functional decline than those using the sensors did. Researchers also discovered that using the sensors could aid in cutting costs for the assisted living community.

The researchers spoke with the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine regarding the study in October 2017.

“With the innovative technological solutions like the ones we tested in this study, elders can benefit from early detection and recognition of small changes in health conditions,” they told the magazine.

They also said that early detection can help to keep a resident out of the hospital or nursing home by allowing them to receive treatment when it’s needed.

NHTSA Data Shows Fatal Vehicle Accidents In U.S. At Nine-Year High

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For the second year in a row, the number of fatal vehicle accidents in the U.S. has been at a nine-year high. Despite state investments in self-driving cars and additional safety features in new vehicles, the number of deadly accidents remains as high as those in 2015.

According to USA Today, the reason behind the drastic increase in fatalities includes failing to wear seat belts and speeding. There has also been an increase in deaths related to motorcycles.

Data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that those who passed away from car accidents in 2016 (a total of 37,361) has increased by 5.6% since 2015. However, in 2014 the number of deaths from vehicle accidents was at an all-time low at 32,744.

Strangely enough, one of the culprits to the increasing number of accidents may very well be the technology designed to make roads safer. The Seattle Times reports that out of 31 vehicle collisions involving self-driving cars, 13 involved self-driving cars operating in autonomous mode.

“You put a car on the road which may be driving by the letter of the law, but compared to the surrounding road users, it’s acting very conservatively,” said Karl Iagnemma, the chief executive officer of NuTonomy, a self-driving software developer. “Humans violate the rules [of the road] in a safe and principled way, and the reality is that autonomous vehicles in the future may have to do the same thing.”

However, the introduction of self-driving cars on the road isn’t the main reason behind the rise in vehicle accidents. Up to 80% of bumper scratches, after all, happen when a driver is parking their own car.

The number of distracted driving accidents fell by 2.2% in 2016. However, there was a 4.6% fatality increase due to passengers failing to wear seatbelts, a 4% fatality increase due to speeding, and a 5.1% fatality increase involving motorcycles. Additional fatality increases include incidents of drunk driving and pedestrian deaths. AAA also released a study on Thursday, October 5, which points a finger at touchscreen systems in vehicles. Compared to the average number of 136 guests at a typical wedding, the 3,450 Americans who were killed on U.S. roads in 2016 by distracted driving alone is staggering.

Safety advances aim to improve that number. Technology such as rearview cameras, lane departure warnings, advanced airbags, and automatic emergency braking are becoming increasingly common in modern vehicles. These advances alongside the safe and principled manner of human driving may prove to be the road safety improvements the U.S. needs.

4 Tips For Falling Asleep (And Staying Asleep) When Suffering From Chronic Pain

alarm-clock-1193291_960_720When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, Americans are severely lacking. We all know that seven to nine hours of sleep per night are what’s generally recommended, but current statistics show that the average American is getting just 6.8 hours of sleep per night. For those who suffer from chronic pain, getting to sleep and staying asleep can be even more difficult. Here are a few strategies to help those with chronic pain sleep as soundly as possible night after night.

Form A Routine

More than 1.5 billion people live with chronic pain, and the first step to enhancing the amount and quality of sleep you get each night, regardless of your pain level, is to form a routine and stick to it. Try to start the process of going to sleep within an hour or two range each night. Similarly, try to wake up around the same time every morning as well. This eventually gets your body aligned on a circadian rhythm that allows it to fall asleep and wake up easier.

The winding down portion of the process is also important and should not be neglected. Around an hour to an hour and a half before going to sleep, start winding down by turning off screens and getting yourself relaxed.

“An hour before bed try sitting down with a decaffeinated drink and a light snack, perhaps after a warm bath. You could read or listen to music,” writes Charlotte Ward on Mirror.

Exercise Earlier In The Day

It may sound surprising, but those who exercise regularly often report getting a higher quality of sleep. However, there’s a catch — you need to time your workouts so they’re earlier in the day. Not only will this help you stay relaxed for the rest of the day, but you’re bound to notice an almost instant improvement in mood.

Know The Most Comfortable Sleeping Position For Your Injury

Everybody has a preference when it comes to comfortable sleeping positions, but it’s important to know that there are sleeping positions that correspond to many injury types and are medically proven to ease musculoskeletal stress. Knee pain, for example, is the second most common cause of chronic pain. Dr. Andrew Yaun, chiropractic sports physician, suggests tucking a pillow under the affected knee if you’re sleeping on your back, and if you’re sleeping on your side, tuck a pillow between both your knees. For a more permanent solution, however, Dr. Yaun suggests taking more serious action.

“If you have back pain combined with hip or knee pain, go to a doctor to address the situation before it becomes worse,” he advises on Van Winkle’s.

Optimize Body Temperature

Finally, check the temperature you’re used to sleeping in. Sleeping when you’re too warm can cause restlessness and less dreaming sleep. Being too cold, however, can also have negative implications, making it difficult for the body to relax and get to sleep and having the potential to cause bad dreams. Experts say the ideal sleeping temperature is about 64.4 degrees F. Don’t be afraid to open your windows to let in some fresh air as well.

Ultimately, sleeping soundly is one of the most important ingredients to maintaining a positive overall quality of life. Understanding and implementing these strategies can help you get to sleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night for years to come.

Russian-Linked Facebook, Google Ads Spur Brand Safety Anxieties In Advertisers

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Online tech giants are under fire from advertisers after causing significant problems with brand safety. According to NBC News, Facebook recently handed up to 3,000 advertisements over to Congress. These ads, through which Facebook had received a total of $100,000 in ad spending, were linked to the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The Washington Post reports that the advertisements exploited U.S. religious and racial divisions as a means to promote voter suppression and to incite fear based on prejudices. A similar tactic had been used during the Cold War when Soviet operatives took out advertisements in newspapers across the United States, which were written as though they’d been created by political activists.

Facebook wasn’t the only digital advertising platform to be used to influence the 2016 election. On Monday, October 9, Google found that advertisements had also been purchased by Russian-linked groups during the 2016 election.

These advertisements are believed by federal investigators to be linked to a secretive company in St. Petersburg, Russia called the Internet Research Agency. The Agency has been known to spread propaganda and fake news throughout the Internet. However, Facebook has declined to confirm that the advertisements were linked to any specific groups due to legal restrictions.

Yet it isn’t the Russian-linked advertisements that several businesses are concerned about, says chief executive of Horizon Media Bill Koenigsberg. Rather, it’s the news surrounding digital advertising. “Every day there is another snippet that comes out,” he said, “and you piece them together and you’re starting to draw conclusions that the water isn’t as clear as we’d hoped.”

Many businesses and companies still utilize traditional methods of advertising, which many Americans pay attention to. Up to 71% of people driving on the road will look at and read the messages of roadside billboard advertisements. However, many businesses also rely on digital advertising methods offered through Facebook, Twitter, and Google which send advertisements to users based on their demographic regions and past online searches.

For instance, up to 18% of people admit to concealing their teeth in photos. Depending on the past online searches of those users, online tech companies may be more likely to send advertisements of teeth whitening products or dental veneers because those users would be more likely to click on those ads.

Yet these advertisements aren’t appearing online as many businesses would like them to. According to NBC News, companies and politicians have become squeamish of these automated digital advertisements after their own banner ads have appeared over jihadi videos on YouTube.

“The entire advertising world is very anxious,” said independent expert in crisis public relations, Mike Paul. “But few will admit publicly that the negative news is affecting Facebook because it is the 800-pound gorilla globally for ad and media buyers.”

12-Year-Old Locker Board Creator to Be Featured On ‘Shark Tank’

The “casual skater” is someone who hops on a board and skates between one and 25 times a year. A “core skater” on the other hand, is someone who skates wherever and whenever they can. Skateboarding has always been popular in small circles of the United States, especially among students, but it’s been difficult for young kids to skate as much as they’d like thanks to educational restrictions. Until now.

Thanks to a California entrepreneur, kids around the U.S. are able to skate to school, skate to their lockers, and safely keep their boards inside those lockers until it’s time to go home and hit the skate park.

Carson Kropfl created Locker Board, a company that manufactures skateboards that have been modified to fit within compact cubbies, storage areas, and school lockers.

One important note: Carson Kropfl was 11 years old when he created this company.

“My mom said I had to pay for all my surf contests and surf lessons,” Carson said.

So, of course, this young skater came up with the locker board idea, made a few dozen boards, and began selling them.

“At first, we had the boards kind of like a normal skateboard with the round edges and the tail. The tail would make it wiggly and it wouldn’t really work, so I cut off the tail but kept the round shape. It still didn’t really work. It was too small to fit your feet on. So I thought to just cut the board into a block and round the edges.”

According to San Clemente Times, Carson, now 12 years old, has been invited to make an appearance on the popular television show Shark Tank.

“We were at Mammoth Mountain in an elevator, and my dad noticed someone who had the Shark Tank on his jacket, and he was actually one of the producers,” Carson added. “My mom and my dad started asking him questions and showed them the pictures of the products. He said we had not grown enough (in understanding business), but he said he could give the producer updates on our progress.”

As The Orange County Register, reports, when Carson launched his company last year, the 11-year-old boy built every Locker Board by hand in his backyard workshop. He struggled to keep up with orders, so he had to outsource operations a little bit.

If Carson’s appearance on the network show is a success, he’ll likely see a tremendous amount of increased business. He might have to get in touch with large manufactures who work with industrial sheet metal, which is the number one most common type of metal used in the industry, in order to mass produce his Locker Boards.

Carson does, however, still collect used skate decks and handcrafts them. He calls these handcrafted boards the “Recycled Series.”

“I was so excited,” he said. “I was blown away that I was going on Shark Tank.”

Nevada Researchers Develop Earthquake Proof Bridge Design

Seismograph and earthquakeOne Nevada research lab is making moves when it comes to earthquakes. Literally.

Scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno have started to test new bridge designs with connectors that are meant to better withstand violent earthquake tremors. They also believe that their innovative approach will be able to speed reconstruction efforts after major earthquake damage.

For the researchers, these tests couldn’t have come at a better time. They were conducted one day after a deadly quake hit Mexico, and their goal is to help prevent any fatalities as a result of falling structures.

Even though bridges are designed to withstand earthquakes, they often become unstable and unsuitable for travel after they have been hit by one. And considering that over two hundred million trips are taken daily across deficient bridges in the United States’ 102 largest metropolitan regions, a lot of people are putting their lives at risk every day around the country without even realizing it.

Saiid Saiidi is a researcher with the Nevada Earthquake Engineering Lab and has over 30 years experience looking at the structural soundness of bridges across the world. According to him, it is important to focus on creating a strong bridge in the first place since earthquakes don’t necessarily kill people, but unstable structures do.

To perform their experiments, the Reno researchers used a giant shake table to stimulate the violent motions of an earthquake. Their model weighed 100-tons and was 70 feet long. During the shake test, the columns and beams swayed back and forth for 30 seconds at a time — some were displaced nearly a foot, and others had small cracks in them. The graduate students studying on the project were able to use an electrochemical fatigue crack sensor system to detect cracks in the bridge as small as 0.01 inches.

However, they found that these fractures were minimal and didn’t result in major structural damage. This came as a surprise because the computer models they used before the test indicated there would be more bridge damage.

So what did the researchers do to create such a strong bridge? They used special connectors to link pre-fabricated bridge parts, including ultra-high performance concrete. These connectors cause the designers to place the prefabricated concrete directly onto the existing bridge foundation, making it easier for repair after a quake if necessary because they will be easier to get to.

Known as pipe pin connectors, the pin is made up of a steel pipe that is anchored into the column and extended into a piece of steel that is embedded into the bridge’s beam. But since there is a gap between the steel pipe and the piece of steel in the beam, the extended segment of the bridge is able to rotate freely during a quake. This flexibility means easier movement and less of a probability that the column will collapse on itself and crumble the entire bridge.

These special connectors make this bridge the first in the world that uses flexible columns and reinforcement bars made out of a metal alloy. While alloy steels can be divided into four classes: structural steels, tool and die steels, magnetic alloys, and stainless and heat-resisting steels, this metal alloy is made from titanium that bends and springs immediately back to shape after an earthquake hits.

The researchers at the quake lab are hopeful that this new technology can help earthquake-prone areas like the Western United States and Mexico in stabilizing their bridges for the future. As of right now, the California Department of Transportation is funding the project and is developing 10 projects with this new pipe pin connector technology.