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Today is June 2

Dental hygiene is about more than just your teeth

Individuals tend to learn about dental hygiene at an early age. On the recommendation of their children’s pediatricians, parents may begin brushing their youngsters’ teeth the moment the first tooth breaks through the gums. While proper dental hygiene is vital to oral health, it also can have a profound effect on the rest of the body.

According to the Mayo Clinic, poor oral health might contribute to various diseases and conditions. Periodontitis is a severe yet preventable gum infection that can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. But the threat of periodontitis doesn’t end in the mouth. The American Academy of Periodontology notes there’s a connection between periodontitis and several other diseases. While bacteria was long suspected to be the link between periodontitis and other diseases in the body, the AAP notes that recent research points to inflammation as the culprit that connects periodontitis with diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Diabetes

The AAP notes that people with diabetes are at increased risk for periodontal disease, speculating that diabetes patients’ risk is higher because people with diabetes are more vulnerable to infections than those without diabetes. While that suggests periodontal disease is a byproduct of diabetes, the AAP notes that research points to the relationship being a two-way street. Periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar, making dental hygiene an especially vital component of routine healthcare for people with diabetes.

Heart disease

The AAP notes that research indicates periodontal disease increases a person’s risk for heart disease, with the inflammation caused by the former leading to the latter. People with existing heart conditions also may find that periodontal disease exacerbates those conditions. The Mayo Clinic notes that the link between heart disease and periodontal disease is not fully understood, but enough studies have been conducted for scientists to support the notion that the two are connected.

Can periodontal disease be prevented?

Periodontal disease is preventable. A daily dental hygiene regimen that includes brushing after meals, flossing at least once per day and swishing with mouthwash are some simple, healthy habits that can prevent periodontal disease. In addition, the AAP recommends that people at increased risk for periodontal disease, including the elderly and smokers, should discuss their risk with their dental professionals.

Dental hygiene can do more for individuals than produce a mouthful of pearly white teeth. In fact, people who prioritize dental hygiene may lower their risks for various diseases.

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Pointers before preparing chicken

Chicken is a versatile food that can be found on menus at restaurants across the globe. Whether it’s stuffed chicken on the menu at an Italian restaurant or a spicy chicken dish from a local Indian eatery, chicken can be served in an assortment of ways.

As a global pandemic took hold in the winter of 2019-20, many people found themselves cooking at home more than ever before, and the versatility of chicken made it a go-to on home menus. People thrust into cooking duties despite little or no previous culinary experience should know that chicken can be cooked in a variety of ways and goes well with myriad side dishes. That makes chicken an ideal item to consider when planning meals for yourself and/or your family.

Millions of people across the globe eat chicken without incident every day. However, the threat of food poisoning is there when cooking chicken, so it’s wise for home cooks to take a few precautionary measures when making meals with chicken.

· Thaw frozen chicken correctly. It can be tempting to take chicken out of the freezer and leave it on the counter to thaw in the hours before dinnertime. But that’s potentially very dangerous. The United States Department of Agriculture notes that strains of bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli can be found on raw chicken. These bacteria thrive at room temperature, leaving you and others vulnerable to foodborne illnesses. When thawing frozen chicken, place the chicken in the refrigerator in a sealable plastic bag. Chicken also can be thawed in a microwave, but the online medical resource Healthline notes that chicken that has thawed in a microwave must be cooked immediately afterward to kill any bacteria.

· Be careful when rinsing chicken with water. The Australian Chicken Meat Federation notes that rinsing uncooked chicken with water can lead to contamination if chicken juices and any accompanying bacteria are splashed into the sink or onto surrounding surfaces, such as countertops. If you rinse chicken with water, make sure the water is running low to reduce splashing, and clean any areas that may have been contaminated, including the sink, immediately afterward.

· Clean all surfaces that have come into contact with raw chicken. Even if you don’t rinse chicken with water, all surfaces that have come into contact with raw chicken should be cleaned immediately. WebMD advises using hot, soapy water to clean surfaces that have or may have come into contact with raw chicken or chicken juices.

· Confirm chicken is thoroughly cooked before serving. WebMD notes that chicken can be checked for doneness by cutting a slit into the thickest part of the chicken piece to see if it is cooked through. Juices from cooked chicken run clear, not pink. If the juice or meat is pink, the chicken needs further cooking.

· Don’t baste with your marinade. If you’re marinating chicken prior to cooking it, discard the marinade once you remove the raw chicken from it. Raw chicken marinade may contain bacteria that can make people sick, so never baste cooking chicken with the same marinade you used when the chicken was raw.

Chicken is a versatile food that can be served in myriad ways. Safety should always be a priority when thawing, preparing, cooking, and serving chicken.