5 Things You Should Always Carry With You

Oops, did that garlic-laden lunch leave you with bad breath? Did your sweaty run for the train smear your mascara? A beauty or fashion emergency can happen anytime, anywhere. But you can maintain your calm, poise and appearance if you’re prepared. Our advice: Don’t leave home without the following items tucked into your makeup bag. 

1. Deodorant Mark Remover
We recommend: Deodorant Removing Sponge, $5 

You just noticed a white deodorant smudge on your dress, and you know that trying to rub or wash it away will only make it worse. To the rescue: this deodorant removing sponge from Hollywood Fashion Secrets. Just rub the pink foam square over the spot and watch it disappear -- no water necessary. It also works on makeup powder and picks up stray pet hairs on clothing.

2. Toothpaste & Toothbrush
We recommend:  Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste
, $1

Your lunch leaves you with bad breath and food in your teeth. What do you do?
Pull out your travel-size tube of toothpaste and a small toothbrush. Try Crest Pro-Health toothpaste, the only brand accepted by the American Dental Association in six categories (cavities, gingivitis, plaque, whitening, sensitivity and bad breath). [Note: Crest is the sponsor of Completely You.] And just in case you get spinach stuck in your teeth, bring along a few floss picks too.

3. Makeup Remover
We recommend:
Beauty Fixation Makeup Remover Swabs, $5

You got sweaty and your makeup smeared. Remove raccoon eye mascara marks and other migrating makeup with these swabs. Make sure to keep a few in your bag -- they’re perfect for quick touchups, and much more precise than wipes or cotton balls.

4. Moist Towelettes
We recommend:
Crystal Body Deodorant Towelettes, $8

Sometimes … and there’s no nice way to say this … you just smell bad! So keep some individually wrapped deodorant towelettes on hand. Unscented and made with all-natural mineral salts, they eliminate odor-causing bacteria and keep you smelling fresh all day long. Great for trips as well.

5. Stain Remover
We recommend: Tide to Go, $4

Got Bolognese sauce on your blouse during lunch? A quick swipe with an individually wrapped stain remover wipe will instantly remove most stains from both washable and dry cleanable fabrics -- although it’s always a good idea to test a hidden area on silk first. Plus, they also work on carpets and car interiors.

Bonus items: tissues, adhesive bandage, a tampon, double-sided tape for fixing fallen hems and clear nail polish to stop pantyhose runs.

Did we leave something off? Tell us what else you’d add to the list in the comments section below!

The Tiny Guide to Creating the Flossing Habit

For many years, I rarely flossed. As a result, I had some not-so-pleasant dental problems. I always knew I should have been flossing but could never make the habit stick.

Creating the habit of flossing is a recent triumph for me, and because I’ve had a bunch of people ask about it, I decided to share what works best.

Let’s start by saying I’m not an expert on flossing. But I do know a thing or two about creating the habit of flossing, and that’s what we’re focusing on here.

I do know that flossing can fairly quickly improve your dental health. If you haven’t been flossing, it’s likely that you have some kind of gum infection, so flossing might cause some unpleasant (but not really painful) bleeding at first, but it will go away after a few days of flossing (at least in my experience).

Your teeth will also start to feel cleaner, which is an amazing experience. And when you go to the dentist (you should if you aren’t regularly, trust me), you’ll get a much better report and have much less nasty dental work to be done.

Let’s take a look at how to form the habit of flossing.

Forming the Habit

These are the steps that worked for me:

  1. Pick a trigger. For a habit to be automatic, it needs a trigger -- something that is already in your daily routine. If you already brush your teeth every morning, then I suggest that as your trigger. Actually, a better trigger is going to brush your teeth -- say you go into the bathroom to brush your teeth and reach for your toothbrush … that’s your trigger. Floss right at that point, before you brush your teeth, and then brush your teeth after.
  2. Have a visual reminder. The key is to do the new habit right after the trigger, but at first you might easily forget. So have the dental floss right next to your toothbrush, where you won’t forget it. You might also put up a note next to your bathroom mirror so you can’t possibly forget.
  3. Floss just one tooth. This is an old idea, but it works well. Start your habit by just flossing one tooth. It’s so remarkably easy that you won’t be able to say it’s too hard or that you don’t have the time. It will feel a bit ridiculous, but just do it. On day two, floss two teeth. Slowly expand every one to three days until you’re flossing all your teeth. Sure, you won’t get the full benefit of flossing all your teeth at first, but the key is not to get the full benefit right away but to create a habit that lasts.
  4. Focus on the enjoyment. Many people put off flossing because it seems hard or boring or unpleasant, but it doesn’t have to be. Flossing is a pleasurable activity if you allow yourself to be present and think about how your teeth are getting cleaner and how nice that is. I love the feeling of clean teeth.
  5. Mark it on your calendar. Every day you floss, mark a big X on your calendar (Jerry Seinfeld’s secret). Try to string together a bunch of Xs, and you’re golden.

That’s really all it takes. Focus on this one habit for a few weeks to a month, and you’ll have a new flossing habit. Matt Frazier did this, along with a bunch of other habits, and it helped change his life (read his amazing story). It’s such a simple thing, but it can change yours too.

This guest post was reprinted in Completely You from ZenHabits.net.

How Your Meds Can Affect Your Mouth

You’re probably well aware of side effects like stomach upset that many medicines can cause. But how your meds affect your mouth is also important -- mouth health impacts overall body health.  

Yet most people don’t realize this, says Dr. Gigi Meinecke, a dentist in Potomac, Md., and a spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. What’s more, “patients are very selective about what they tell dentists about the medications they’re taking because they consider it a private matter,” adds Dr. Meinecke. “But we can better care for you if we know what you’re taking.”

Below, we rounded up the five most common oral side effects of medications, along with advice on what to do if you have them. Talk to your dentist and remember to bring a complete list of all the prescription medications, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and supplements you’re taking to your next dental checkup.

Side Effect: Dry mouth
Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but having an overly dry mouth can also make you more susceptible to gum infection, cavities and tooth decay.

  • Possible culprits: Hundreds of medications can cause dry mouth, including antacids, antihistamines, antidepressants, decongestants, painkillers, high blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications, and drugs for urinary incontinence.
  • What to do: Sip water or suck on ice chips frequently throughout the day, and sleep with a humidifier in your bedroom. Avoid alcohol and toothpaste with sodium laurel sulfate, which can aggravate dry mouth, advises Meinecke. Ask your doctor or dentist whether you’d benefit from using an over-the-counter moisturizing gel to stimulate saliva production.

Side Effect: Tooth discoloration
Sometimes the discoloration is superficial; other times, it’s inside the tooth (if it occurred when you were very young, for example).

  • Possible culprits: Antibiotics like the tetracycline class, Cipro and penicillin.
  • What to do: If the discoloration is on the outside of the tooth, a dental hygienist may be able to remove it, says Meinecke. If the area along the gumline or between the teeth is stained, your dentist can probably remove the discoloration using a special polishing system called Prophy-Jet.

Side Effect: Gum overgrowth
Fortunately, this is a rare phenomenon, but gum overgrowth is not only unsightly, it can also lead to lots of plaque buildup that can cause cavities and other problems. According to Meinecke, people with poor oral hygiene are more likely to experience gum overgrowth in response to medications.

  • Possible culprits: Prolonged use of anticonvulsant drugs, calcium channel blockers or immunosuppressants.
  • What to do: Meticulous brushing and flossing is essential while taking these medications. If your teeth are building up plaque because of abnormal gum growth, you may need to see your dentist more frequently than twice a year.

Side Effect: Tooth grinding or jaw clenching (aka bruxism)
Tooth grinding or clenching can lead to jaw pain and harm tooth enamel. “If people are just doing it at night, they may not be aware of it,” says Meinecke, but some are doing it during the day too.

  • Possible culprits: Some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SSRIs), including Prozac, Celexa, Paxil and Effexor.
  • What to do: Talk to your dentist about having a model made of your teeth to see if their size and shape change over time due to the grinding, suggests Meinecke. If you’re grinding just at night, wearing a mouth-guard can help. If it’s a problem 24/7, talk to your doctor about whether switching antidepressants or taking another medication along with the antidepressant might help mitigate these effects.

Side Effect: Abnormal bleeding
Certain meds can reduce the blood’s ability to clot, which can lead to bleeding problems during oral procedures or treatments.

  • Possible causes: Anticoagulant medications (like Coumadin) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (including aspirin).
  • What to do: Practice scrupulous oral hygiene (with gentle flossing and brushing), and be sure to tell your dentist that you’re taking these meds so he or she can take steps to minimize bleeding. “You may need to stop the medications before having a cleaning or certain types of dental work done,” notes Meinecke.

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The Surprising Way You’re Making Yourself Fat

Sure, you realize that what you put into your mouth could affect how comfortably your pants fit from day to day as well as over time. But did you know that what’s naturally in your mouth could also affect your weight?

A study recently published in the Journal of Dental Research discovered a surprising link between the presence of certain oral bacteria and obesity. While comparing saliva samples between overweight women and average-weight women, researchers found that 98.4 percent of the overweight women had higher levels of a particular type of bacteria called Selenomonas noxia, which has been linked to periodontal (gum) disease.

In other words, “it appears the oral bacteria of obese people are different from the oral bacteria of controls,” says Dr. J. Max Goodson, the co-author of the study and a senior member of the staff at The Forsyth Institute, in Boston.

Why Gum Disease Is so Dangerous
At this point, the exact mechanism between oral bacteria and obesity isn’t known, but the relationship between periodontal disease and obesity is well-established. It may be that the bacteria from the oral cavity (aka your mouth) travel into the gastrointestinal tract, where they turn into bacteria that are better at converting food into calories that are absorbed by the body, says Goodson. “You swallow almost a gram of oral bacteria per day,” he explains, so if you harbor bacteria that could promote weight gain, that’s a significant amount. Or it may be that the potentially problematic oral bacteria stimulate appetite by increasing certain hormones like ghrelin.

In addition, inflammation may play a role, especially since both periodontal disease and obesity involve inflammation. “It’s known that central adiposity -- increased fat around the abdomen -- can lead to a hyper-inflammatory response, including an increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can lead to more periodontal disease,” explains Dr. Robert Genco, distinguished professor of oral biology and microbiology at the State University of New York, University at Buffalo.

Periodontal disease has also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, preterm labor in pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, and various types of cancer (such as oral, esophageal, gastric, and pancreatic).

The Simple Solution: Upgrade Your Oral Hygiene
To protect yourself from these health conditions and perhaps obesity too, start thoroughly brushing your teeth and tongue at least twice per day and regularly flossing to clean between teeth, says Genco.

Even the most stellar oral hygiene won’t get rid of all the bacteria in your mouth, but it will keep the numbers down, says Goodson. Also, be sure to have professional dental cleanings at least twice a year. And if you do develop periodontal disease, getting it treated early and thoroughly may help protect you from obesity and a variety of other health problems, from head to toe.         

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Photo: @iStockphoto.com/Sveta