Follow the Rainbow to Healthy Eyes and a Healthy Smile







Colorful fruits and vegetables can lead you to good dental and vision health. This St. Patrick’s Day, follow the rainbow to these healthy choices.




  • Yellow peppers, like red, have anti-inflammatory benefits along with vitamin C.
  • Cheese gives you calcium, famous for building strong bones and teeth.


  • Leafy greens contain vitamin K – good for your dental and vision health. This vitamin can help block substances that break down your bones, promoting good bone density. Leafy greens also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which can reduce the risk of some eye diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
  • Broccoli contains folic acid that is good for the health of your gums. It also contains vitamin A.



  • Eggplant has a handful of nutrients for your mouth and eyes – vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. Folic acid in eggplant builds strong bones and helps prevent osteoporosis.
  • Acai berries, a newly popular choice, have antioxidants to strengthen your immune system.
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How Alcohol Affects Your Vision

If you’re celebrating on March 17, you may experience blurry or double vision, bloodshot eyes, and sensitivity to light. How is alcohol causing these eye-related symptoms?

An occasional drink will not result in lasting damage to your eyes, but according to Your Sight Matters, “excessive drinking can cause permanent eye damage.” While we might commonly consider other parts of our body that alcohol can impact, like our liver, here’s how alcohol affects our eyes.

Your eye muscles

Alcohol will weaken your eye muscles. If you excessively use alcohol over time, your eye muscles could be permanently changed. Involuntary rapid eye movement could be a result of alcohol’s impact on your eyes. Also, since alcohol is affecting your eye muscles, your pupils are not working properly. This can lead to tunnel vision or your peripheral vision to be impaired.

Connection to brain function

If you experience double or blurry vision, or if you can’t decipher certain colors when you drink alcohol, it’s because the communication between your eyes and your brain is being impaired. Alcohol is slowing down your brain function and its ability to communicate with your eye muscles. Alcohol’s influence on your brain function is also decreasing your reaction time.

Light sensitivity

Sensitivity to light can be part of your hangover after consuming a lot of alcohol. Light sensitivity is usually accompanied by eye pain and headaches.

Bloodshot eyes

Another eye-related effect of drinking alcohol is bloodshot eyes. Alcohol dilates the blood vessels in your eyes making them appear larger and red.

Permanent damage

There is also a condition called toxic amblyopia. It leads to permanent loss of vision or blindness, and it’s caused by a deficiency in nutrients. It’s also sometimes referred to as nutritional amblyopia. People struggling with alcoholism can be susceptible to this condition.

Please drink responsibly with your family and friends, and consider your health and the health of your eyes.

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Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration

To raise awareness of a leading cause of vision loss among people 50 and older, here is some information about age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Since February is AMD awareness month, we’d like to provide some useful material so you can understand the basics of the condition, know what to look for, and be attentive to your vision health.

What is AMD?

Age-related macular degeneration is an eye disease that mostly affects those who are 50 or older. It causes vision loss in the center of your field of vision. There are two types­ of AMD – dry macular degeneration and wet macular degeneration. With dry, the center of the retina deteriorates. With wet, leaky blood vessels grow under the retina. Dry AMD is the most common.

What are the symptoms?

In some cases, you could not have symptoms of AMD, even though the disease is progressing. That’s why visiting your eye doctor and getting annual comprehensive eye exams is so important.

Symptoms include blind spots; a difference in the appearance of color; distorted vision where straight lines appear wavy or bent; blurred or decreased vision when looking straight ahead, either at a distance or close up; and objects appearing different in color, shape or size in one eye compared to the other. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, or having trouble with daily tasks like reading, cooking, driving, seeing in dim light or looking at faces, contact your eye doctor as soon as you can and make an appointment.

Are you at risk?

There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of developing AMD. It’s best to discuss these factors with your doctor. Here are some of the risk factors:

  • Family history of AMD
  • Over the age of 50
  • Smoking
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Overweight

To learn more about these and other risk factors, and to learn more about AMD, talk with your doctor and consider these additional resources, Prevent Blindness and American Academy of Ophthalmology.

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Assess Your Dental Benefits for the Year Ahead

Since it’s tax season and you’re reviewing your finances and other paperwork, it’s also a good time to look at your dental insurance. Here are some things to consider.

  1. Check the contract year. Your dental benefits renew at the calendar year or the contract year. The contract year is usually based on when your insurance plan actually took effect. For example, if your dental benefits started in April, your benefits would typically renew 12 months later, in April. If your benefits renew at the calendar year, your benefits will start on January 1. At the beginning of the calendar or contract year, you start over with the deductible and annual maximum.
  2. Check your deductible. Your deductible is a specific dollar amount that you pay out-of-pocket before your dental insurance begins to cover your expenses. Deductibles usually apply to basic or major treatment, not cleanings or exams. Cleanings and exams are considered preventive services and are typically covered regardless of whether your deductible has been met. Find out your deductible so you can plan accordingly for the year.
  3. Check the annual maximum.Just like your deductible is reset with the start of a new calendar year or contract tear, so is your annual maximum. The annual maximum of your dental plan is the maximum dollar amount the plan will pay towards the cost of care, within a specific amount of time (typically January through December).
  4. Check your lifetime maximum. The lifetime maximum of your dental plan is the maximum dollar amount a benefit plan will pay for your dental care over the course of your lifetime. This usually refers to services like orthodontic or prosthodontic treatment. Some treatment doesn’t have a lifetime maximum. If you check your dental plan, you can plan accordingly for care you or your family might need, like braces for your kids.

It’s a good idea to read through your dental insurance to understand all the details and to be aware of any maximums or limitations. You can also contact customer service with any questions.

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How Your Dental and Vision Benefits Do More For Your Overall Health

This February, to partake in the awareness of American Heart Month, we’d like to show how your dental and vision benefits provide an unexpected way to detect issues with your heart and your overall health.

Your eyes and mouth can reveal a lot about your overall health. During dental and vision exams, doctors can spot signs and symptoms of health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Health issues can be detected during an eye exam

During an eye exam, your eye doctor will look at the blood vessels in your eyes. As the American Academy of Ophthalmology explains, because the eye is an important part of our large nervous system, irregularities may indicate the changes in other parts of our bodies. In other words, since the blood, blood vessels and nerve connections in the eyes are connected to the rest of the body, our eyes “can reflect illness that begins” in another part of our body.

For example, an ophthalmologist can detect diabetes by noticing changes or damage in the blood vessels of our retina. Sometimes, an eye exam can detect the early and beginning stages of diabetes even before a blood sugar test. Early detection of diabetes can be crucial to avoiding more serious complications of the disease.

Hypertension or high blood pressure is another health condition that can be detected during an eye exam. The blood vessels can exhibit this condition. Inflamed eyes can be an indication of autoimmune disorders. High cholesterol can be identified by an eye doctor’s examination of the cornea and blood vessels. If these or other health issues are found by your eye doctor, they’ll refer you back to your primary care physician or specialist for further tests and examinations.

Health issues can be detected during a dental exam

Just like your eyes can be indicators of your overall health, the same is true about your mouth. Systemic diseases and health issues can sometimes show signs and symptoms in your mouth. For example, bleeding gums, dry mouth, loose teeth and bad breath can be signs of health problems in other parts of your body.

Heart disease can be detected by inflammation in your mouth. Sometimes a sore jaw or pain with other signs can indicate a looming heart attack. Diabetes can show signs in your mouth such as chronic bad breath and bleeding gums. High stress can lead to many health problems. Your dentist could notice signs of stress like worn down teeth or bone loss from grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. And an oral cancer screening is also usually a part of a dental exam. If these or other health issues are found by your dentist, they’ll refer you back to your primary care physician or specialist for further tests and examinations.

Early detection with regular visits

When you make your eye doctor and dentist appointment, you’re also taking care of your overall health. With these regular visits, twice a year at the dentist and once a year at the eye doctor, you’re preventing small problems with your teeth and eyes from becoming bigger and more costly, while also possibly identifying other health issues.

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How to Get a Fit Smile

We talk about staying fit, working out and eating healthy, so why not consider the “fitness” of your teeth? Along with your daily routine of going for a walk or run, here are some fitness goals for your smile. While you work on building strong muscles, follow this advice to build strong enamel. After all, your dental health is an important part of your overall health.

Stay away from sugary foods and drinks

The harmful bacteria in your mouth will feed on the sugars found in soda and sweets. Then, these bacteria create acids. Acid attacks and wears down your tooth enamel. Those sugary foods and drinks aren’t good for your overall health or your smile!

Eat foods high in calcium

Foods like cheese, broccoli and yogurt are rich with calcium. Calcium can counter the damage from acids, as explained above, by rebuilding enamel. Choose foods high in calcium to keep your teeth strong, and your bones will stay strong too.

Fluoride helps strengthen enamel

When you brush your teeth, twice a day for two minutes, use fluoride toothpaste. The fluoride protects your teeth, helps strengthen your enamel and repairs the first stages of tooth decay. You can also find fluoride in certain mouthwashes and most tap water. Also your dentist provides fluoride treatments.

Brush twice a day, but not too hard

You’re already brushing twice a day for two minutes. But to keep that smile fit and keep your enamel strong, don’t brush too hard or too fast. Improve your brushing technique by brushing gently in an oval-shape motion. Also, to avoid wearing down your enamel, choose a soft-bristle toothbrush.

Keep your gums in good shape too

Healthy gums are another important part of your dental health. Add these steps to your fitness routine to keep yours in good shape.

  • Brush and floss daily – Brushing twice a day is part of your routine, but is flossing too? To keep your gums healthy and strong, when you floss and brush, pay attention to the gumline. Need to improve your flossing technique? Learn five steps to better flossing.
  • Visit your dentist – Your dentist can identify any early signs of gum disease so it can treated early and prevent worse problems. A professional cleaning from your dentist and dental hygienist provide the only way to remove tartar buildup. They can also reach plaque that you may have missed.
  • Don’t smoke – Being fit and healthy corresponds directly with not smoking. Same is true for your dental health. If you smoke, it makes it harder to fight gum disease. Smoking can weaken your immune system and make it difficult for your damaged gums to heal.
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Party Snacks for Your Vision and Dental Health

If you’re hosting an awards show party or throwing a game-day bash, try these foods for healthy teeth and eyes.

Reconsider the trend and try something new

Rosé, champagne and prosecco may be a trendy choice and a fun idea for an award show party or to celebrate your favorite team winning the big game, but these drinks can be hard on tooth enamel. Prosecco, champagne, and rosè have high acid levels, so try sparkling water instead. Or if you’re looking for a unique drink to serve, try a colorful vegetable and fruit smoothie. Pack it with eye-healthy choices like spinach, carrots, apples or beets. With fruit to garnish, your guests will feel indulged and healthy.

Cheese – both appetizing and helpful

Putting together a cheese tray can be an easy choice. It can also protect your teeth if you do decide to treat you and your friends with champagne. Cheese is usually a favorite, and you can add more to the platter like prosciutto and salami.  Add some vision-friendly nuts like walnuts and almonds. How about chickpeas or sunflower seeds, both with nutrients good for vision, to add to the selection? With all these extra choices, your guests won’t miss the crackers. Crackers are starchy and high in carbohydrates. Those carbohydrates turn into sugar that can harm the enamel on your teeth. If you do decide to add some crackers, other snack foods like celery can act as a natural toothbrush to clear the food particles on the surface of your teeth.

A different veggie tray

I know it’s tempting to just grab a couple of bags of chips, but they are high in carbohydrates and starches, and no good for your smile. Instead, put together a veggie tray. Vegetables will provide the same satisfying crunch your guests crave while providing vitamins good for your vision and dental health. If you’re looking for something different than the usual celery, carrots and broccoli, try parsnips, jicama, snap peas, artichokes and asparagus. Raw red peppers are filled with vitamin C which is a good nutrient for your eyes.

Berries for sweetness

I suppose it wouldn’t be a party without something sweet. So here is an option that can have some benefits while also delighting your friends and family. Try berries drizzled with dark chocolate – dark chocolate has less sugar than milk chocolate or white chocolate and strawberries are filled with vitamin C, good for your teeth and eyes.

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