Monday, October 23, 2017

Healthy Habits: Halloween and Oral Health

While Halloween brings loads of fun, it also brings with it a dental nightmare.  After eating a just a handful of candy corn, there is enough residual sugar on your teeth and inside your cheeks to feed an army of bacteria.
Here are some Halloween oral health tips from Dr. Harold Katz.

Worst Treats
Try to avoid or limit these unhealthy snacks: 
  • Sticky treats like gummy candies, jelly beans, raisins and caramels are bad for dental health. 
  • Full-sized candy bars. Some chocolate bars contain high amounts of saturated fat. The worst offenders are Mounds (11 grams of saturated fat in a two-ounce bar), Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar (nine grams in 1.5 ounces) and Almond Joy (eight grams in 1.7 ounces). 
  • Chips Ahoy!, Oreos, Hostess HOHOs and other snack cakes, Keebler Club & Cheddar Sandwich Crackers, and Starburst Fruit Chews were all voted the worst vending machine snacks for kids by Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Anything STICKY is terrible – including Raisins!
  1. Seek out healthier alternatives to candy. There are many ideas to consider: 
    • Different flavors of popcorn - tie in small cellophane bags with ribbon (for parties only) 
    • Individual packages of fruit or applesauce - even pudding is a better alternative than candy. These are usually sold in 4 or six-packs. Just break them up and give an individual pack to each child. 
    • Granola (muesli) bars (but watch their sugar content also) 
    • Low-sugar, trans fat-free cookies from health food stores. If these are not wrapped individually, wrap large cookies in cellophane and tape together; make little cellophane bundles of smaller cookies (self wrapped bundles for parties only) 
    • Bundle little pretzels in cellophane (for parties only) 
    • Small apples, mandarins are possible but many parents are wary of fruit due to scares about pins etc. being inserted into them. You could investigate packaged sliced apples in clear wrapping as a compromise. Or make a fruit bowl at home just for your own kids and play games like apple bobbing 
    • Nuts ‘n bolts – vary seasoning to suit little palates 
    • Instant spiced apple mix or hot chocolate mix 
    • Fruit bars - there are many pure fruit bars available now. The thin ones are especially good value and will slip into many treat bags as a filler 
    • Individual homemade fruit sweetened cookies (for parties only) 
    • If it's a warm night, fruit juice ice treats might be a good choice, especially for a party 
    • Plain dark chocolate is better than candy. Make sure it has no cream filling or high sugar content. Some claim chocolate even helps to prevent tooth decay. It has certainly been proven that the antioxidants in dark chocolate are healthy. Purchase small pieces in little packets or package small pieces in cellophane (for parties only). 
  1. Sugarless gum 
  1. Corn nuts, peanuts, or trail mix 
  2. Small individual bags of pretzels or popcorn 
  3. Packages of sugar-free cocoa 
  4. Individual bags of roasted pumpkin seeds 
  5. Pre-packed cheese and crackers 
  1. Invest in small games, kits or novelty items instead. Look in dollar stores, party stores, toy stores etc. Buy in bulk if possible and repackage into little treat bags. Look out for small games that are given out as party treats. The possibilities are endless and include: 
    • Halloween pencils, pens, erasers 
    • Stickers with Halloween themes 
    • Magic tricks 
    • Joke, puzzle or maze books 
    • Plastic or rubber animals or figurines 
    • Balloons, party whistles 
    • Miniature cars/dolls 
    • Comic Books from the quarter-bin at your local comic shop 
    • Cards (playing, baseball etc) 
    • Miniature jigsaw puzzles 
    • Crayons/Coloring Books
    • * - Peanuts (individual serving packages)
      * * - Juice boxes (100% juice of course)
      * - Microwave popcorn
      * - Cereal bars
    • Trick-or-treating coupons from places like Dunkin' Donuts are always a hit with kids and they give parents control over what their kids eat.
  1. Purchase entry coupons for local zoos, water parks, movies etc. If you have a set amount of children at a Halloween party, you might like to consider giving each child an entry coupon instead of candy. Unless you're bankrolling your neighborhood's Halloween though, you won't be able to use this idea for kids who come to the door! 
  1. Avoid trick or treating by having a party. Kids can still have all the fun and haunting but serve healthier food like pizza, dips and pita pieces and fresh fruit. Focus on the games more than the food and give good non-food prizes. As an added bonus, you know where the kids are. If it's for older kids, expect a lot of loud and scary sounds, very corny jokes and unexpected ghostly antics. Put breakables away. 
  2. Give mini-toothbrush sets. Maybe this sounds corny but it is a healthy reminder to kids getting so much candy that brushing their teeth is really important. If you're lucky, you might find Halloween themed toothbrushes. You will probably have more luck with this idea if you give out a treat or toy in addition to the toothbrush. 
  3. Spend your time, energy and money on the decorations as the treat. Turn your front yard or porch into a wonderland that kids will marvel at. Use light and sound to greatest effect. Tell visiting kids that the display is their treat. It had better be good though, or you’ll be in for a trick! This idea can also backfire, as kids usually expect houses decorated for Halloween to give out treats and your big attractive display may have them anticipating a big candy reward. 
  4. Work out compromises. Instead of banning sugary snacks altogether, try allowing a limited amount or making rules beforehand about how many treats your kids can have each day. If you're hosting a party, kids may feel deprived if they don't get to go trick-or-treating and you won't give them any candy at all. In addition to healthy treats, fun party games, and spooky decorations, make a small amount of traditional candy available. (It will prbably still be less than they'd get if they actually went out.) Giv each child a goody bag with some small toys, a mix of healthy and sugary treats, and a fun toothbrush. For very young children, see if you can find a small book about brushing your teeth to make the toothbrush seem like a better gift. 
  5. Teach your kids to practice moderation. Try not to make too big a deal out of the candy. A little candy is better than a long, sad memory of being totally denied treats at Halloween. Talk sensibly with them about diet, health and good eating habits at all times, not just at Halloween, so that they grow to understand the relationship between eating and body health. Help them to learn that some indulgence on special occasions is okay, as long as they don't consume too much and they accept that treats belong only to very special occasions. Kids are perfect at understanding and your continued support and good example are what they need the most. 

  1. When it comes to oral care, make sure they use a fluoride-based mouthwash that does not contain any artificial colors or flavors (such as TheraBreath for Kids Organic Grape), available at Walmart,, or  Toothpaste should also contain fluoride, but should be free of detergents.  One such brand is TheraBreath available at Walgreens, CVS, Walmart,, and

About Dr. Harold Katz
Dr. Harold Katz is widely recognized in the media as the “final authority” on breath. He’s been featured on Fox and FriendsFOX Network’s Mike & Juliet ShowABC’s Good Morning America, and The View with Barbara Walters and countless other radio and TV interviews.  Dr. Katz is a graduate of the UCLA School of Dentistry and holds a separate degree in Bacteriology, also from UCLA.  He is the founder of The California Breath Clinics, is the author of “The Bad Breath Bible,” and bearer of the now famous Halimeter which tests the sulfur compounds that cause bad breath.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Website Spotlight: Elfster

Elfster is an ultimate free online gift exchange service that is going to be your new Holiday BFF! Elfster saves you time, money, and everyone is happy with their gift in the end. Did I mention it’s free? It is the perfect way to handle all types of gift exchanges, and helps with those hard-to-buy people in your life, too.

Use Elfster for your family, your fraternity or your favorite online community. With their curated gift recommendations and awesomely revamped Shopsection, Elfster will be a huge life (and time) saver for you and your family this coming Holiday Season.

Here are three reasons why Elfster is your Holiday BFF;

1.     Saves you time
No more guessing what people want for gifts- you can add anything from anywhere to your personal wish list and share it with your friends!
2.     Saves you money
Thanks to the Secret Santa generator, that means less gift buying, and more fun!
3.     Brings your favorite people together
Elfster is a gift exchange social platform, allowing you to connect with friends, family, coworkers and people who share the same interests as you!

Use Elfster to relieve yourself from that holiday stress. Elfster seeks, organize and highlights amazing gifts for all sorts of interests, people and occasions. With over 7 million people exchanging gifts just last year alone, make Elfster your BFF this Holiday Season.

Healthy Habits: How The Opioid Crisis Affects Even Oral Health

The opioid crisis is reaching epidemic proportions in the United States, and the number of opioid-related deaths has risen steadily for years, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Those addicted can experience numerous side effects, such as a weakened immune system, hallucinations and clogged blood vessels.
And if those problems weren’t bad enough, those who routinely use opioids face another potential health problem: dry mouth that can lead to troubling and serious oral-health conditions.
“Dry mouth is literally a lack of saliva or diminished production of saliva, and opioids are a contributor to this problem,” says Dr. Harold Katz (, a dentist and bacteriologist.
That might not sound so bad until you remember that the body produces saliva for a reason. It helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath, and also lubricates the mouth, making it easier to eat, swallow, speak and taste food.
“Sometimes dry mouth might just cause mild discomfort,” Katz says. “At other times it can lead to significant oral disease that can compromise the person’s health, dietary intake and quality of life.”
Plenty of things can lead to dry mouth, but opioids are one cause starting to get more attention in dental offices – where dentists are also concerned about over prescribing pain killers. Some opioids, such as oxycodone, codeine, and morphine, are prescription pain medications. Other opioids, including heroin, are illegal.
Katz offers tips to those who suffer from dry mouth, such as:
  • Drink more water. Katz suggests at least six to eight glasses a day, which comes to about 48 to 64 ounces assuming an 8-ounce glass.
  • Avoid alcohol. This advice isn’t limited to just alcoholic beverages, although it’s important to avoid them, too. But some mouthwashes are as much as 27 percent alcohol, Katz says. Alcohol is actually one of the causes of dry mouth.
  • Avoid spicy, acidic and sugary foods. Without saliva there to offer some protection to the lining of the mouth, spicy and acidic foods can be irritating. In addition, saliva helps to break down the sugar in foods. If the saliva isn’t there to properly do that job, then there’s an increase in the risk of such dental problems as tooth decay. 
  • Use a dry mouth rinse. Such rinses help moisturize the mouth and can increase the flow of saliva.  

“If you suspect your dry mouth is caused by your prescription medication, let your doctor or pharmacist know what is happening,” Katz says. “They may be able to make other suggestions that will help.”

About Dr. Harold Katz
Dr. Harold Katz (, developer of TheraBreath Dry Mouth Oral Rinse, received his degree in bacteriology from UCLA and is the founder of The California Breath Clinics and author of “The Bad Breath Bible.” He has been featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” CBS’s “Early Show” and “The View” with Barbara Walters and countless other TV shows. Dr. Katz has developed oxygenating compounds that have been used by millions around the world to eliminate bad breath. He is also the bearer of the now famous “Halimeter,” which tests the sulfur compounds in the mouth that cause bad breath. Dr. Katz’ website offers a free online bad breath test – as well as a sneaky way to tell someone they have halitosis.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thrifty Thinking: Protecting Information from Cold-Callers

Information is power, as revealed by a slew of recent cyber hacks in which millions of Americans had their personal data stolen by criminals. Now, doubt over releasing personal information is spreading across the country, especially as it relates to telemarketers…particularly those calling from prison.
“Many people don’t realize that cold-calling is actually quite common in prisons across the world,” says Karl Volkman, Cyber Security Expert and CTO of SRV Network, Inc. “It sounds odd, but it actually makes sense: Telemarketing is a trainable skill that requires little education, and all that is needed is a phone and a list of numbers. No wonder so many prisoners make their daily wages by calling Americans.”

There’s just one problem, says Volkman. Some of the questions these inmates ask could reveal information that could later be used against you. “You don’t want to hand out personal information to strangers on the phone, let alone prison inmates,” says Volkman. “Yet currently there is no law requiring prisoners to identify as such when they phone you, and there are very few regulations regarding the type of information these cold-callers can retrieve from you.”

The tech security expert advises people to never give information on the phone, even if it’s just for a ‘harmless’ political survey. “It’s especially important to make sure that vulnerable people like elderly folks or those with developmental delays are being protected from such scams,” says Volkman. “There is never a good reason to give out personal information over the phone, even if it is just about your shopping habits or your age and marital status.”

5 Things We bet You Didn’t Know About Cannabis (Guest Post)

By: Doug Mairs
(Owner of Circle M Farms Worm Castings)

Cannabis is a confusing topic. And it’s no wonder why.  Growing up, we were told contrasting info about the sticky substance. Credible sources like our teachers and DARE police officers told it is a dangerous gateway drug; that smoking one joint causes more bodily harm than smoking 10 cigarettes.  But on the other side, pop culture told us it was no big deal.  Movies and like Half Baked, Super Troopers, and rappers like Snoop Dog made it seem like hitting a bowl was a normal rite of passage for high schoolers.  

Whichever side of the cannabis debate you are on, here are 5 things we bet you didn’t know about the sticky icky:

  1. Marijuana has been around for a LONG time. Humans have been cultivating the crop for at least 6,000 years (possibly twice that long.)  That means people were working with marijuana before the great pyramids were built, long before gladiators fought at the colosseum in Rome, even before Stonehenge!
  1. Using marijuana for medical purposes isn’t new.  Ancient texts show that cannabis was used to relieve conditions ranging from constipation to malaria. 
  1. Getting the munchies after smoking is a myth…at least according to a 2014 study.  This study showed that after long-term ingestion of marijuana, mice ate less and lost weight — but remember, that was in lab setting, and the mice didn’t have access to Taco Bell. 
  1. Smoking isn’t the only way the marijuana plant is used. Its fibers can also be spun into rope or woven into fabric. One of the strangest uses of marijuana recorded is using hemp rope as a method for transporting giant stone statues.
  1. Marijuana plants grow best in worm poop.  Yes…you read that correctly. Plants that grow in worm poop (or worm castings) benefit from faster seed germination and plant emergence. With all the new marijuana regulations regarding the use of pesticides, growing marijuana in worm poop is going to become the norm as it is the only way to ensure crops are strong and also chemical free. 

Doug Mairs is an organic farming expert and the Operations Supervisor and Sales Manager for Circle M Farms Worm Castings. Doug has lived in the Ontario, Oregon area for the past 20 years and is the heart and soul of the family farm. Dedicating his life to its success and growth, he is focused exclusively on the worm operation. His daily tasks include tracking production supplies, product quality, vendor satisfaction, deliveries, personnel, and contract/wholesale sales. He enjoys traveling, the outdoors, and spending time with family. 


Consumer Critique: The Christmas Star from Afar

If you like the idea of a hiding game that leads up to Christmas, but want it to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas, you can check out a game I recently got to review, Christm
as Star from Afar. 

In this version, parents hide a star somewhere in the house. When it's found, kids bring the Wise Men to the star. This carries on each day, until Christmas Eve, when the star is placed above the nativity and the Wise Men arrive on Christmas Day. 

I would actually change this slightly - because we follow the tradition of Epiphany as the Wise Men's arrival, we would probably start on Christmas or Christmas Eve and have them arrive on Epiphany.

Either way, it's a fun tradition that focuses more on Christ at the center of Christmas. The kit comes with a book, a wooden Star and nativity scene, and optional Scripture readings for families to use in the days leading up to Christmas.

Area Attractions: TADA! Youth Theater (NYC)

TADA! Youth Theater will present “The History Mystery,” an original musical back by popular demand. This perennial audience favorite tells the story of three students who wander through American history and meet the people who have had to fight for freedom, women’s rights, and racial equality. Along the way, the three time-travelers meet history greats such as the Wright Brothers, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Eleanor Roosevelt as kids, influencing their futures to help make the world better for us today. Tickets can be purchased at

TADA! Youth Theater’s original production of “The History Mystery” is based on the book written by Janine Nina Trevens, with music by Eric Rockwell and lyrics by Margaret Rose. The production is directed by Janine Nina Trevens. “The History Mystery” is choreographed by Joanna Greer, with music direction by Matthew Gregory, set design by Joel Sherry, costume design by Megan Turek, and lighting design by Steve O’Shea.

Since 1984, TADA!’s mission is to provide young people from all different backgrounds with musical theater programs that inspire them to be creative, learn, and think differently. A unique Drama Desk award-winning nonprofit youth theater, TADA! produces original musicals for children, teens, and family audiences.

TADA! offers a free, year-round, pre-professional training and positive youth development program for its Resident Youth Ensemble (ages 8-18); musical theater classes/camps for the public; as well as musical theater residencies in NYC schools and community centers. Through high-quality work, young people’s self-confidence and creativity are enhanced. They also develop advanced skills in leadership, communication, responsibility, collaboration, and problem-solving - skills that help with growing up and are essential to their success both in school and in life.

Book Nook: May the Faith Be with You - Bible and Bedtime Prayers

I recently had a chance to review May the Faith Be with You Bedtime Prayers and May the Faith Be with You Holy Bible. Both of them are designed to be somewhat of a riff on Star Wars with the title and cover graphic.

The prayer book contains simple prayers for younger kids. It's a good way to introduce them into praying more than the same bedtime prayer every night. The book glows in the dark, which is always a hit with young kids, and the space-themed art is perfect for budding astronomers.

The Bible is the New International Reader's Version - following the standard NIV but simplified to a third-grade reading level. This makes it a good transition Bible between the very simplified language in kids' Bibles and the formal language of adult translations. It's also a little easier for younger kids as a read-to-me version. The Bible contains images and other contents that use the marvel of God's creation, especially outer space, to visually engage readers.

Caring Causes: PUR Attitude and National Breast Cancer Foundation

PUR attitude™ announced that it will donate 50% of proceeds for its HA85 PUR Relief Lotion(MSRP $45) and HA85 PUR Relief Spray (MSRP $45), advanced therapeutic topicals designed to be safe for use by cancer patients, to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.® (NBCF) during the month of October. The brand also will donate 25% of proceeds for items in the rest of the PUR attitude collection to the charity during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. NBCF is an organization dedicated as much to the prevention of the disease, as it is to the cure, and holds excellent ratings with independent charity reviewers. PUR attitude chose to work with NBCF due to its alignment with PUR attitude’s own core mission to carry out responsible industry practices by providing carcinogen-free skincare.

Each product in the PUR attitude line is dermatologist tested and approved, backed by independent clinical studies, and follows the brand’s philosophy of “Safe Beauty,” avoiding harsh chemicals and known carcinogens, parabens, PEG’s, glycols, sulfates, petro-chemicals, synthetic fragrances and artificial dyes. 

About the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.® 
Recognized as one of the leading breast cancer organizations in the world, the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s (NBCF) mission is to save lives through early detection and to provide mammograms for those in need.  A recipient of Charity Navigator’s highest 4-star rating for nine years, NBCF provides women Help for Today…Hope for Tomorrow® through its National Mammography ProgramBeyond The Shock®Early Detection PlanMyNBCF online support community, and breast cancer research programs. For more information, please visit
About PUR attitude
Based in Boca Raton, Fla., PUR attitude was created by a team dedicated to the research, development and manufacturing of advanced therapeutic topicals and skin care. All PUR attitude products contain only safe beauty ingredients. More than 1,300 chemicals have been banned from the company’s lab, which adheres to strict EU standards. Additionally, all PUR attitude products are created with 100 percent pure, active ingredients, and are not diluted with water.

Area Attractions: WonderWorks Destiny 5th Anniversary (Syracuse NY)

WonderWorks Destiny, Syracuse’s premier indoor amusement park that focuses on STEM “edutainment”, is celebrating its 5th anniversary. The public is invited to attend WonderWorks anniversary party on November 18, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The party will be held at inside WonderWorks, located at 9090 Destiny USA Drive, Syracuse, New York, and will feature fun giveaways, door prizes, Professor Wonder meet and greets, titillating science experiments and of course, birthday cake!
“We are thrilled to have provided such great family fun for the last five years in the Syracuse area and look forward to many more years ahead,” says Nicole Montgomery, director of operations at WonderWorks Destiny. “WonderWorks is packed with exciting exhibits that captivate all age groups. We have something for everyone in the family. Within our 40,000 square feet of space, we combine education and entertainment to provide an experience like none other.”
The anniversary party will include:
  • 93Q hosts Ted & Jack live on site
  • Door prizes and giveaways, including WonderWorks passes, two birthday party packages, and more
  • Special and exciting science experiments
  • A meet and greet with Professor Wonder
  • Glow in the dark party favors
  • Birthday balloons and cake
The party is a ticketed event and there are 3 ways to get your ticket:
  1. Buy any full price VIP or WonderWorks ticket between November 1-17, 2017 and you will get your ticket to come back to the party included with your purchase.
  2. Tickets will be sold the day of the party at a reduced rate. WonderWorks general admission ticket will be $5 or a get a $10 VIP ticket.
  3. WonderWorks will be giving away tickets on their Facebook page so make sure to like them and go on the page often.
In order to celebrate the entire month, WonderWorks Destiny will be offering two anniversary specials throughout the month of November 2017. They are offering $5 admission after 5 p.m., any day of the week, excluding Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving weekend. They are also offering $50 off any birthday party package that is booked during the month of November for dates through 2018.
“We have an amazing month of activities and specials planned to celebrate our anniversary,” added Montgomery. “We look forward to welcoming new guests as well as seeing our returning guests for this special occasion! We are grateful for the support we have received over the last five years, thank you, Syracuse!”
WonderWorks offers a variety of fun family-friendly interactive activities to engage in, including:
  • Laser tag arena – Friends and family compete in a game of laser tag.
  • 4D XD Motion Theater – showing family fun movies the family will never forget.
  • Canyon Climb Adventure – featuring 70 feet, 3 stories, and 81 obstacles to challenge everyone.
  • WonderZones – offering a variety of areas to explore, such as natural disasters, physical challenges, light and sound zones, imagination lab, and space discovery.
  • Sky Tykes ropes course – an activity for kids under 48”.
For more information regarding the anniversary party, anniversary specials, or visiting WonderWorks, please visit WonderWorks website:
About WonderWorks
WonderWorks, a science-focused indoor amusement park located in Destiny USA, combines education and entertainment with over 100 hands-on exhibits. There is something unique and challenging for all ages. Adventures include: The Hurricane Shack, feel the power of 71 mph hurricane–force winds, The Bubble Lab, make huge, life–sized bubbles, The Astronaut Training Gyro, get the NASA treatment and experience zero gravity, Nail it by lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails. WonderWorks is also home to two indoor ropes courses, Canyon Climb, which is the world’s largest suspended indoor ropes course, and Sky Tykes, which is a confidence booster climb for small children. WonderWorks also hosts birthday parties and special events seasonally.