I don't know about y'all, but personally, I can name about three trillion things I would rather do than go to the dentist. I mean, my dentist and his team are nice enough, but between laying on my back, looking at those tools, and holding my breath to hear if there's any news that I'd prefer to avoid—it can all be overwhelming, a tad bit uncomfortable…oh, and not exactly the cheapest, either. Apparently, I am not alone because it's been reported that only 58 percent of folks see their own dentist on an annual basis. That's not good either because, aside from the fact that we need our teeth to eat (and look presentable), there are all sorts of health issues that are tied to poor oral hygiene including cardiovascular disease, respiratory infections, diabetes, infertility, and even dementia.
And while I'm not trying to scare you into seeing your dentist, what I will say is the last time I waited and then went, I had to get the root canal from hell. And you know what? It could've been avoided if I had simply not skipped out on my annual visit. It also wouldn't have become as "big" as it did if I had paid attention to a couple of these you-really-need-to-get-to-the-dentist-ASAP warning signs, too. Don't say a sis didn't warn you.
1. Incessant Bad Breath
There is someone I went to high school with who, no joke, had some of the worst-smelling breath on the planet. On many days, I was around her after gym and lunch, so I know she brushed her teeth, but damn—when she talked, it still always smelled like something died up in there. I hope she's OK because bad breath isn't always automatically a hygiene issue. Sometimes it's a red flag that someone has an underlying disease like diabetes, acid reflux, or, in some cases, even cancer.
All of the mint toothpaste and Altoids in the world won't fix those things, so aside from not sucking the life out of everyone around you, for the sake of your health and well-being, incessant bad breath is something that should not be ignored.
2. Gum Pimples
If you're not exactly sure what a gum pimple is, I'm not referring to canker sores. (Another name for those is aphthous ulcers and they are basically surface-layer sores in your mouth.) No, what I'm talking about are bumps that have pus in them. Sometimes, what that means is an abscess has developed and you have a dental infection of some sort. If you choose to ignore it or even pop it yourself, the infection could ultimately spread and lead to far more serious issues like sepsis. It could even go to your brain and lead to fatality. So yeah, you should make an appointment with your dentist if you happen to notice any of these along your gum line.
3. Dry Mouth
Our mouths were designed to be wet with saliva at all times. This means that if, no matter how much fluid you take in, you just can't seem to shake having dry mouth, that is something else that could potentially be cause for concern. Not only does saliva keep bacteria at bay while helping to fight decay that leads to cavities, a lack of saliva production could be an indication of things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Dry mouth is one of the most slept-on reasons to go to the dentist, but a valid one nonetheless.
4. Cracking Teeth
Do you have a cracked (or crumbling) tooth that seems to have come out of nowhere? You know that you haven't eaten anything hard and you also know that you haven't neglected your teeth in any way, so what in the world could it be? One guess is you are producing an excessive amount of stomach acid that is damaging your enamel. There's only one way to find out for sure, though. You already know what I'm gonna say.
5. Receding Gums
Here's something to take pretty seriously. Did you know that, not only do half of all Americans have gum disease, but gum disease in an advanced stage? Aside from bleeding and swollen gums, another pretty telling sign that gum disease is starting to get the best of your oral health and well-being is if you notice that your gums are receding anywhere. Since there is a direct correlation between gum disease and other health-related issues like diabetes and heart challenges, don't let this one slip either. The state of your overall health could very well depend on it.
6. Teeth Sensitivity
While there are plenty of commercialized oral products out on the market that profess to treat teeth and gum sensitivity if this is something that has just recently started to happen, make an appointment to see your dentist.
When you react, excessively, to hot or cold foods, what that could mean is that you've got some tooth decay, a loose filling, or an exposed tooth root somewhere. The only real way to treat any of this is professionally.
7. Weird-Feeling Tongue
Your tongue is a breeding place for bacteria. That's why it's important to make the time to brush it every time you brush and floss your teeth. Not only will it remove a considerable amount of bacteria and germs, it will also reduce your risk of getting periodontal (gum) disease while helping to keep your breath smelling fresh throughout the day.
But what if you do take pretty good care of your tongue but happen to notice that it's been feeling pretty weird as of late? Should you chalk it up to not being that big of a deal? If by "weird" it has suddenly changed texture, color, or has lumps or bumps that you know aren't canker sores or "lie bumps", don't casually overlook that. Medical professionals often check for oral cancer via our tongue. It's another reason to see your dentist as soon you possibly can.
8. Swollen Jaw
Swollen jaw tissue could mean that you've gotten an infected tooth or even a cyst or tumor that is developing somewhere beneath your gum line. There's no way that you'll know for sure without a thorough examination and quite possibly a few X-rays, so if you feel or see any swelling, don't just "ibuprofen it away". Chances are, things will only get worse over time if you do.
One more. Each tooth contains nerves and blood vessels that help to keep it healthy. Another thing that the nerves do is help us to know when something that we put into our mouth is either hot or cold. When the pulp chamber of a tooth either gets exposed or becomes damaged in some way, that can first cause an extreme amount of pain. However, that's a good thing because it's a heads up that something is very wrong. The bigger problem is if we try and "Google our way through that" and then the nerve eventually dies, resulting in numbness. While on one hand that means the pain has subsided, what that doesn't mean is that the underlying problem has gone away or that it won't get worse over time. So, if you happen to notice any type of numbness anywhere, most definitely see your dentist. For the sake of your teeth—and your overall health.
Yeah, I know this wasn't the most pleasant read on the planet, but you know what? It's better to know what to look out for and book an appointment than to wait too late and have a world of oral issues that you didn't even know about. You need your teeth. Be proactive in taking care of them or you could live to regret it. Literally.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
10 All-Natural Ways To Strengthen Your Teeth & Whiten Your Smile
The Perfect Smile: 4 Influencers Give The 411 On Having Veneers
Cardi B's Dentist Dr. Catrise Austin Built An Empire Transforming Celebrity Smiles
Feature image by Shutterstock
- 12 Signs You Need to See a Dentist ›
- 4 Signs You Need to Go to an Emergency Dentist Right Away ... ›
- 3 Signs You Need to Go to an Emergency Dentist | Smiles of ... ›
- Root Canal Symptoms: 6 Ways to Tell If You Need a Root Canal ›
- Signs You Need to Go to an Emergency Dentist ›
- When you should go to the dentist - Insider ›
- 5 Symptoms That Require You to Go See Your Dentist ›
- Signs You Need to See Your Dentist – ActiveBeat ›
- 13 Signs You Need to See a Dentist Right Away | The Healthy ›
- 6 warning signs you need to see the dentist More | Aetna ›
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
Let's Finally 'Spring Clean' ALL Of Our Exes Out Of Our Lives, Shall We?
It’s kind of wild that I’ve never really pondered why spring cleaning actually happens in the springtime. After I did some Googling, I realized that I probably never knew because (luckily) allergies aren’t something that I personally have to deal with. If that is something that happens to be your struggle, though, basically, it’s a good idea to do some serious cleaning up, in every room of your house, on the earlier side of the spring season; that way, you can get rid of dust and allergens that could make this time of year completely miserable (on the coughing, sneezing and watery eyes tip) for you.
And since spring cleaning consists of doing things like organizing stuff and — eh hem — getting rid of what’s no longer needed and also since this season coincides with spring fever (you know, when the extra sunlight, chirping birds, and warmer weather can sometimes put people in a more-than-usual mood to get into a relationship), I thought that this would be a great time to explore what it looks like to spring clean an ex — or all exes — if that is something that you’ve been seriously contemplating as of late.
Yeah, if organizing your feelings and removing what’s taking too much of your time are on your relational to-do list these days is important to you, let’s dive into what you can do to FINALLY “spring clean” your past loves out of your present life. You know, in my opinion, asking certain questions can reveal answers that will put you on the path to forward movement — and true freedom. So, let’s go over a few that I think can help you to achieve your ultimate goal now.
(By the way, I’m going to address this as if one ex is the issue, yet if there are more, please make all of this plural as you go along.)
WHY Is He Your Ex?Giphy
I can’t believe that it’s freakin’ six years ago this year that I went on what I call a Get Your Heart Pieces Back Tour. It was so personally impactful and significant that I actually wrote about it for the platform a few years back (check out “Why Every Woman Should Go On A 'Get Your Heart Pieces Back' Tour”). The journey basically consisted of me reaching out to guys who I still felt things were unfinished with (at least on my end) in order to, well, finish them.
I was finally able to get my first love out of my system (listen, it’s not romantic to be so caught up in nostalgia that you find yourself emotionally stagnant while giving someone heart access to you who really doesn’t deserve it…the tour taught me that). I was also able to see the guy who I used to coin as “the one who got away” as the now-divorced guy who does some odd things to get back at women who do him wrong (not dangerous just…odd). He’s still fine as hell and just as super successful as I thought he would be — it’s just that the tour got me to see how/why it would’ve never worked out. Over and out. There were a couple of other guys who were more like super friendly sex partners (check out “5 Things You Should Ask Yourself Before Having Sex With A Friend” and “How To Preserve Your Friendship After BAD Casual Sex”) who I had a couple of questions for that I got answers too as well. And as a direct result of the tour, my heart is completely whole again, which is awesome. Clear on all-things-the-past feels…amazing. Empowering even.
All that from having a few conversations? Yep. Well, that and also getting serious with myself about why the exes were my exes to begin with. My first love? We always had a great connection and honestly, “first love bonding” aside, never formally or officially breaking up (not having a real conversation about ending things) was our main issue. Yet once I got real with myself about how we were somewhat trauma bonded, how his past poor choices left him an ultimate commitment-phobe (along with being someone who, at one point, slept with and impregnated the woman who hooked us up in the first place years after he and I broke up…she decided to tell me years later) and I accepted that, although he’s now a really great dad, I have no desire to be a step-mom (like AT ALL) — he’s an ex because our lives never were going in the same direction, past or present (“present” meaning the last time I checked which has been years ago at this point).
Whenever we bump into each other, it’s always all love but not IN love. And the one who got away? Timing never was nor ever will be right. Even when we reconnected and talked for almost eight hours straight on the first call, we knew that the chemistry was still there and strong — just not much else. Just like before. And so, once I sent him an email stating that I think I can move on and stop communicating but that I also wished him super well, and then when I heard years later that he got married for a second time, I was genuinely happy for him…because our chapter was fully closed.
A wise person once said that you can’t know your “what” until you deal with your “why.” And I can vouch from very up close and personal experience that once you are willing to remove your feelings out of the way long enough to address the WHY of why your ex is an ex, it will start to make handling these other questions a lot easier to do.
What Do You Miss About Him/the Relationship?Giphy
If you don’t get anything else out of this article, please — PLEASE — hear me loud and clear when I say this: SOMETIMES WHAT YOU THINK IS LOVE IS REALLY NOTHING MORE THAN GRIEF (check out “Why You Need To Grieve Your Past Relationship”). Take it from me, that when you miss someone or something about them, that can manifest in a way that makes you think that you still love them when really, you just need to be intentional about going through the five stages of grieving them — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance — so that you can actually and finally let them go.
I mean, think about it. When you miss a person, doesn’t it often manifest as:
- Thinking about them a lot
- Feeling lonely without their presence
- Physical signs like sleeplessness, loss of appetite and maybe crying off and on
- Wanting to talk to them or tell them one last thing (for the umpteenth time)
- Longing for or even craving them
Yeah, those are some pretty powerful emotions. Problem is, one definition of miss is literally “to be unsuccessful.” Yes, you might miss them, but if the relationship was unsuccessful, you’ve got to be honest with yourself about that side of “miss” too.
So, the next step? Ask yourself what you miss about the relationship. Do you miss the sex at the expense of “forgetting” that the two of you were totally unsuccessful when it came to getting on the same page with communication? Do you miss being in a relationship on special occasions at the expense of “forgetting” that he never wanted anything more serious than what the two of you had established? Do you miss quirky little nuances about the two of you at the expense of “forgetting” that your needs were never fully met?
There are things about some of my exes that I’m always going to miss. However, on this side of healing, those things aren’t enough to reconnect, in an intimate way, ever again. The longing doesn’t trump the unsuccessfulness anymore. How about you?
Are You “Editing Out” Some Realities?Giphy
Did you know that there is a part of our brain that stores up memories to the point that, whenever we reflect on them, there are literal chemical reactions that will transpire? In fact, some medical professionals believe that some memories can actually "trigger" us into wanting to recreate what we're thinking about. For instance, an article on the topic that I read on Healthline's site (here) literally said that if memories of your first kiss were good, it could cause you to want to find someone to recreate that memory with as soon as possible (pretty wild, right?).
Keeping all of this in mind, doesn't it make perfect sense that good memories about your ex would cause you to want to talk to them, get close to them, and "recreate the good" with them? Here's the thing, though — if you're only thinking about the good, that means you're editing out the bad, and doing that could get you into some deep trouble.
So, when it comes to this particular question, get quiet, get still, and then do some journaling. In fact, go the old-school pros and cons list route and organize your memories by writing down what was good about the relationship on the left side and what wasn't so good on the right. When it comes to the not-so-good things, also jot down how those things made you feel.
I've got a friend who is back figuring things out with an ex as we speak, and this is something that she's doing. As she's remembering that although the good was really good, she also has to admit that the bad was awful. Yeah, you don't want to let your missing someone cause you to overlook why you left them alone in the first place (or how you felt when they up and left you). Besides, oftentimes, if the bad was super bad and they never apologized or tried to make amends (check out "Heads Up: It's NOT An Apology If An Amends Isn't Made"), all you're doing is sending the message that they can treat you the same way without them experiencing any real consequences for their behavior — and that could actually end up making round two (or 10) so much worse.
Definitely, something to think about…
What Do You Feel Is Unresolved?Giphy
This question, while it might be difficult on the self-awareness and self-accountability tip, that doesn’t make it any less necessary to ask: when it comes to your ex, is something genuinely unresolved, or have you simply purposed in your mind to not let him and/or the relationship go, regardless of what he’s doing or what you know needs to be done? In other words, do you really need answers, or do you already have them, and you’re just in denial about the fact that you do?
Case in point. A few years ago, an ex of mine needed to get some things off of his chest. A damn near seven-hour conversation kind of irritated me because he kept asking me the same things, on a loop, that we had already discussed before. Personally, I don’t think that he was looking for resolve so much as he wanted me to feel like I didn’t make the best decision by ending things in the first place. (Chile…CHILE)
So yeah, this is an important question, too, because resolving matters is all about figuring out how to come to a DEFINITE DECISION as well as how — by literal definition of the word — BREAK THINGS UP. That said, if you know that you need to get rid of the feelings that are holding you back, what things do you need to discuss with your ex that will help to make that happen? Hmph, while we’re here, let me take it a step further and ask if you actually need their input in order to get the answers that you seek because, sometimes, being real with yourself is all the resolution that you need.
In Present Day, Would the Relationship Be a ‘Recycle’ or an ‘Upcycle’?Giphy
Most of us have heard the saying, “Your ex is an ex for a reason,” and while there is a lot of truth to that, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least touch on the fact that sometimes getting back with an ex can actually work out. Sometimes things end, not due to a lack of love or even a solid connection — it’s just that both people need more time to do some processing and maturity separately before coming back together again.
So, with that said, be honest with yourself and really ponder if getting back with your ex would be a recycle or an upcycle. Now before you answer, I want you to think long and hard about the following definitions of both words first:
Recycle: to use again in the original form or with minimal alteration.
Upcycle: to process goods or materials so as to produce something that is often better than the original.
Do you see the difference? I’ll be honest, back in the day, a huge pattern that I used to stay in was recycling exes. I would get back involved with them, on some level, even though nothing about the dynamic had really changed. This meant that the good stuff remained good, and the BS remained the same ole’ BS. And honestly, that only proved to be 1) ultimately a total waste of time and 2) something that tarnished the good because either one or both of us would realize that we were only prolonging the inevitable: realizing that we really weren’t meant to be and that we were holding each other up from fully getting on with our lives which ended up creating some relational resentment and low-key disdain for each other.
Upcycling is different. Relationally, it’s not about getting with someone after you’ve barely done any changing and they’ve hardly done any evolving. Both of you are different individuals now, and so, while you have the foundation of familiarity, to get back together would be so much better than it was before.
Now if you feel like you and your ex have “upcycle potential,” I still advise you to take it slow, to talk things over with one of your “keep it real” friends (so that they can give you an outside-looking-in perspective) and that you have some serious discussions with your ex before officially getting back involved — oh, and that you lay off of sex for a while so that you don’t cloud your judgment.
Yet if it looks like there is some real upcycle potential and you both agree on that…perhaps what you’re doing is not spring cleaning an ex in the sense of getting rid of them but spring cleaning in the sense of reorganizing the role that they play in your life.
Is Your Ex Keeping You in a ‘Circle’ or on a ‘Line’?Giphy
I share the quote often because it’s a sobering one. There is a Chinese proverb that simply says, “It’s later than you think,” — and that is something that I keep trying to remind another friend of mine who is entertaining an ex, one who looks totally different from the guy she recently broke up with…oh, but he damn near acts just like him (that’s not a compliment). And because of this, relationally, she is operating in a “circle,” not a straight line.
What do I mean? Back when I was in elementary school, one of my classes had a hamster and a hamster wheel in it. That hamster would be running for his damn life in that wheel, and while I guess the silver lining is that he got some serious cardio in, ultimately, he wasn’t getting anywhere.
Putting this analogy into human form, maybe getting back with an ex can get you some good sex (you know, fun cardio), but c’mon — is it really getting you anywhere? Is the nostalgia actually nothing more than just…that? Will the following weeks or even months really help you to get anywhere closer to where you want — or, more importantly, need — to be?
I’m here to tell you that when you’re trying to make the best (meaning most beneficial) decisions for yourself (check out “Need To Make A Big Decision Quickly? Do This.” and “Before You Make A Life-Altering Decision, Read This.”), always ask yourself if it’s going to keep you stuck or move you forward. Because no matter how great something might make you feel, it’s really not the best thing for you if it doesn’t help you to maximize your time (time you can never get back) and get you ultimately to where you need to go.
Exes can be a hard thing to shake — trust me, I know. Still, use this spring season to organize your feelings, get rid of who is no longer holistically serving you and be honest about what is turning you into a progressive person and what is a direct enemy of that.
A clean house is bomb. So is a clean heart. Pun intended here on every level, sis.
No time like the present. Get to cleanin’.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Tony Anderson/Getty Images