Trending February 2024 # Is Vimm’s Lair Safe, Legal And A Good Site? # Suggested March 2024 # Top 7 Popular

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If you want to play old retro games on your computer, Vimm’s Lair is one of the websites you may want to visit. The website has a good collection of retro games and games for old consoles, like Sega Dreamcast, Sega Saturn, Nintendo Game Boy, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, etc. If you want to play these old games on your PC, you can download them from the Vimm’s Lair website. But the question is, are these games safe to download? Is Vimm’s Lair safe, legal, and a good site? This is what we are going to discuss in this article.

Is Vimm’s Lair safe, legal and a good site?

As described above, Vimm’s Lair is a website or a platform from where you can download old retro games and play them on your PC. Because the retro games are compatible with different consoles, like Sega Dreamcast, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, etc., you should have dedicated emulators installed on your computer to play these games. Don’t worry, emulators of these consoles are also available on Vimm’s Lair website.

Before we start discussing the legitimacy of Vimm’s Lair website, let’s have a look at what this website offers. The website has the following 5 categories:

Emulation Lair: As the name implies, this category contains some of the popular console emulators, like Nintendo, Genesis, Super Nintendo, Dreamcast, etc. You can download your favorite console emulator from here. Most of these emulators are available for Windows OS. But some of them are also available for other operating systems, including Android, iOS, and Linux.

The Vault: If you want to download games, you have to come to this category. Here, you can select the console and then download the games for that console from the available list.

The Manual Project: The Manual project category contains manuals of video games. You can view them online in your web browser or download them as PDFs.

FFA Links: This is a Free For All Links page. You can browse the listings or add your own. If your link is inappropriate, it will be removed.

Is Vimm’s Lair safe or legal?

While downloading files from the internet, security is paramount. Downloading files from unsafe websites can possess a security threat to your system as they may contain malware. There are many ways through which you can check the legitimacy of a particular website.

Web of trust (WOT) report

WOT is a community of millions of users worldwide. Users post their reviews on WOT about different websites. These reviews help other users know about the legitimacy of a particular website. You can check the legitimacy of the Vimm’s Lair website here. When we checked the legitimacy of Vimm’s Lair website, we found that it has a security score of 87% on WOT. Also, it scores 91% in Child Safety.

Read: How to check if a Website or URL is safe using Online URL Scanners

SCAMADVISER

SCAMADVISER is another popular website where you can check whether a particular website is safe or not. The Vimm’s Lair website has a 100/100 trust score on SCAMADVISER.

Read: Website URL Scanners & Link Checker addons

Trustpilot

Read: Secure yourself, avoid online scams and know when to trust a website

VirusTotal

Read: Online URL Scanners to Scan websites for malware

Reddit

Yep, and the majority of his roms are verified with either No-Intro or Redump (NES is verified with GoodNES). Do note that download speeds are somewhat slow as he tries to preserve as much bandwidth as possible.

Recently No-Intro has decided to remove pirate, aftermarket, and homebrew titles from their standard .dat files, so they will be removed from The Vault automatically in the coming days. This should make maintenance easier since these titles generally cause the most changes.

According to the above announcement, it is clear that most of the ROMs on Vimm’s Lair website are verified by No-Intro.

Talking about the legality of the Vimm’s Lair website, it has been operational since 1997. The website continuously scans its database and removes pirated ROMs from its database. However, no third-party website has the right to upload and distribute ROMs. Nintendo and other developers take copyright infringement very seriously but Vimm’s Lair is still up and running.

What sites are safe like Vimm’s Lair?

There are many websites like Vimm’s Lair. Some of these include CDRomance, KillerRoms, The ROM Depot, RomsEmulator, etc. To know whether these websites are safe or not, you can check their legitimacy on different spam-checking websites.

What happened to Vimm’s Lair?

Vimm’s Lair is a website that offers ROMs and emulators to users. It also has Message Boards where users can request games. Vimm’s Lair has been operational since 1997.

Read next: Is it legal to use the cheap Windows Keys available on the Internet?

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What Is A Good Download And Upload Speed?

Life without the internet these days feels like it has come to a halt. Internet is much more than what it was intended for, with people depending on it for media consumption, socializing, and work, among others. To browse the internet, you will need a stable connection to prevent data drops.

While we have moved on from the era where the maximum speeds were limited to 256 kbps, the definition of good download and upload speeds is still up in the air. Here I shall discuss what is a good download and upload speed for optimum usage.

The term internet speed can be a bit misleading, as you cannot actually measure the speed of the internet. What you get is actually bandwidth, which is the amount of data that your provider sends you. This is measured in packets, and the numbers presented to you is the packet data sent to you over a period of time.

2 MBPS data speed directly means your provider will be sending you 2 MB data per second, which is the speed referred to in the pamphlets.

If you are wondering why there are two different internet speeds mentioned, upload and download speed serve different purposes on a network. Both these speeds are the transfer speeds between your router and/ or modem, and the server located at your ISP. Here is a brief discussion about them, so you can get familiar with them:

Download speed: This is the speed of data transfer from your ISP to your device. Thus, a download speed of 10 MBPS means that your provider sends 10 MB data per second to your device. On a home network, this is primarily what you will be dealing with, as a lot of your work will make use of the download bandwidth.

Your download bandwidth determines a lot of what you do on your computer. Such activities include media consumption, web browsing, listening to music, and much more.

Upload speed: This is the speed of data transfer from your device back to the ISP server. The measurements of upload speeds are done similarly to download speeds mentioned above. On a home network, the upload speeds need not be extremely high, while the same is not true for office networks.

Upload speeds are important for many tasks, such as sending big files over the internet, or while video chatting and conferencing. If you plan on making a lot of video calls, you will get better quality by taking a plan with higher bandwidth.

Symmetric internet refers to the situation when download and upload speeds are the same on a network.

That being said, here are the good internet speeds that are recommended for most tasks.

If most of your task will involve web browsing, the optimal speeds you need to be looking for is 10 MBPS download and upload. You should be able to open even the heaviest of websites without any issues, and even send emails with big files. This internet speed is not ideally recommended for streaming and video conferencing, as you may face some stutters.

If you are a binge-watcher like me, good download and upload speed should be 25 MBPS. This is also the value recommended by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as good internet speeds. However, bandwidth allocation highly depends on the quality of the internet streams.

Netflix recommends 3 MBPS download and upload speeds for streaming in standard definition (SD), 5 MBPS for streaming in high definition (HD), and at least 25 MBPS for streaming HDR or 4K content.

For live streaming TV in HD on your computer, you will need at least 8 MBPS download and upload speeds. This value will increase if you want to stream on more than one device, in which case you need more than 13 MBPS bandwidth.

Even for online gaming, you need good bandwidth to be able to compete with the players over the internet. While you also need to keep in mind other factors, you can begin by making sure you have good download and upload speeds to be able to quickly transfer data between your device and the server.

Apart from the bandwidth, you also need to make sure you have low ping and latency while gaming. Cable connections and fiber optic lines are preferred by gamers primarily due to this reason, as lower ping and good bandwidth eliminate the possibility of the game not responding in high-intensity situations.

Good ping is more important than the bandwidth for almost all internet gamers. Ping can be affected by your LAN latency, and a good bandwidth can improve your ping, however slightly.

For competitive shooters, you will benefit by making sure your ping times are closer to 20 milliseconds (ms). However, you can have decent gaming experience up to 100 ms ping, beyond which you will notice desync.

Better bandwidth will result in less latency and ping, which will help you getting better network performances during online gaming sessions. For online gaming, a good internet speed should be around 25 MBPS. Make sure your ping stays in the values mentioned above.

So there you have it. Now you have a brief idea about what is a good download and upload speed according to your usage. Comment below if you found this useful, and to discuss more your internet plan and doubts about it.

What Is A Good Wordle Score?

Wordle has stuck its jaws in pop culture and it doesn’t feel like it’s going to go away any time soon. At least not until people don’t get bored of sharing their results on social media. But if you’re new to Wordle and don’t want to post an average score pretending you did great, then it’s about high time you understood what the colored boxes in Wordle’s score mean and what a good Wordle score is like.

What do the colored boxes in the score mean?

Curious why all your friends on Facebook and Twitter are sharing these tiny, randomly aligned cubes every day? Wondering why some have only one or two rows whiles others have six? Well, that’s because those rows represent the number of tries it took them to guess the word correctly. 

Every row has colored boxes, 5 of them in each row. A green box means the letter is in the right position. A yellow box tells you that the letter is in the word but in a different spot. However, grey tiles indicate that the letter doesn’t belong in the word at all. 

The number of rows in the score indicates the number of attempts it took the user to guess the word correctly.

Related: How to Play Wordle on iPhone or Android as an App

What is considered a good Wordle score?

Wordle results are a sequence of emojis that tell a story. They reveal how well you started, how quickly you bounced back from a bad guess, and if you learned from your mistakes even.

FYI, there is no hardcore ranking or badges thrown by Wordle for these scores. But it’s not difficult to form some opinion regarding them.

The average player — like us! — should be able to guess the word in four or five tries. But if it takes you less than that, you are doing very well. If it takes you only three attempts, then in our eyes, you had a great score and you should be proud of yourself. If you are able to do Wordle in 2 tries, like honestly, as you can play the game again in a different browser after knowing the answer, it’s insanely awesome. For those who are claiming to be finding the word in just one attempt, we know you are playing it again in the incognito mode or a different browser or profile, come on.

Check out the stats below from an unofficial Twitter account that created a bar chart out of Wordle scores shared on Twitter. That will satisfy the stats nerd in you, we believe.

Related: 8 TV Shows like Wordle

What are the chances of winning Wordle in two or three guesses?

Winning Wordle in two or three guesses is quite difficult. You really need to have used a great start word to start with, and luck should be on your side for that. 

According to an unofficial Twitter account @WordleStats, while second try guessers range from about 3% to 9%, only 1% of the players who share their scores on Twitter have been able to guess the word on their 1st try. But if they were really playing the game for the first time, they could be playing the game again on a different browser for example.

— Wordle Stats (@WordleStats) January 20, 2023

It’s also fair to question the practicality of these results. It’s likely that the majority of players who don’t do great on a particular day don’t often post their results out in the ether of the internet.

According to its creator Josh Wardle, Wordle has 12,972 acceptable guesses. However, the set of possible solutions is even smaller with online analysts claiming the number to be 2,315. 

Seasoned players might fair better because Wordle’s set of solutions contains only frequently used or a bit popular 5-letter words. Not unique or less-known words, thus the vast appeal of the game to people around the world, too.

Naturally, this solution set of common words has a greater chance of overlapping with a player’s guesses, since he/she might also start with common words. Even then the best-case scenario is a 1 in 2,315 chance of nailing it on the first try. It’s mathematical unlikely.

Sounds challenging no? That’s the fun part of Wordle. The idea of having a brainstorming session every day to keep the juices flowing has caught on with the internet and is showing no sign of slowing down.

Related: Wordle: What does Yellow mean?

Can Wordle scores be faked?

Indeed they can be. How? There are several ways to fake them since you can always cheat your way around it. Since the game only be played once and everyone around the world plays the same puzzle on a given day, it’s easy to Google search your way into knowing the solution to today’s Wordle.

Even if don’t want to blatantly cheat with a Google Search, you can easily fake a Wordle score by playing it once on one web browser and then putting in the answer from before on another browser (or an Incognito tab). While that takes the fun out of the game, you can still use this technique if you guessed all the wrong answers in your first six tries on Wordle. If you guessed a word in your final attempt but don’t want to look like an idiot when sharing your score, you can open Wordle on another browser or private window and play it like a champ. 

How to share your Wordle score 

Sharing your Wordle score with friends is quite easy. You can copy your glorious results and paste them wherever you want or you can choose any app from your device’s sharing menu to share it from. Read our step-by-step sharing guide to find out how you can share your Wordle score easily.

Related: How to Share Wordle Scores on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere

How to improve your Wordle score

Things are fun when you’re good at them. And being good at Wordle is not hard. There are some tips and tricks you should follow to give a structure to your everyday guessing process and boom! You’ll be off to the races. Here’s what you can do to improve your Wordle score.

Remember your first guess is very important. Since you have no data available on the word, it’s good to get something good on your first try itself.

Try the words that contain popular letters in the English language, these are the vowels: A, E, I, O, U and N, R, S, T.  Letters like X, W, Q, Z occur very rarely in 5 letter words much less 5 letter common words that are possible Wordle solutions. Avoid them. Also, avoid using the previous day’s solution.

Some commonly used opening words are: STARE, ARISE, TEARS and MAKER. Players also prefer using ADIEU and AUDIO to figure out the vowels as early as possible.

Guessing positions of already revealed yellow words is also crucial. What most players forget is that the yellow letters cannot be at spots already occupied by green cubes. That should narrow down the guessing margin further.

Related: Related: Wordle: What does green mean?

Take your time, you only get 6 tries. Never waste a try and always try to figure out the ending of the word first. For example, knowing the word ends with ING should greatly reduce the deduction time for the remaining 2 letters. But don’t get too caught up in guessing rhyming words.

Always use a strategy and follow it to a t to make playing Wordle fun and worth your while.

Remember, it’s not the score that counts…

If you’ve played Wordle, you’d know the meaning of those colored boxes by now – green tells you that you’re correct about the placement of letters; yellow tells you that you’re almost right about the choice of letters but haven’t placed them correctly and lastly; grey says you’re wrong about your choice of letters. An average user who’s playing the game without any tricks up their sleeve should be able to guess the puzzle in their 3rd or 4th attempt but this varies depending on how lucky one gets with their first attempt. 

If you see all green squares in their 1st or 2nd attempt in someone’s tweet or post, then you know that luck has favored them or they just knew the answer beforehand and are making their guess seem more realistic. If you see someone struggle their way from yellow and grey boxes to the correct answer on their 6th attempt, you’ll know that they genuinely tried and will applaud them. 

An interesting aspect of Wordle is that once you’ve cracked today’s puzzle, you can now decipher how others fared in their attempts when they share their scores. In other ways, Wordle is good at storytelling. If you know the answer to today’s puzzle, you can easily decrypt what letters a player got right and script up a word they may have guessed. That’s probably what makes sharing Wordle scores more fun as it’s not just about points but more about how you landed on the right answer. 

What Is Duda Website Platform And Is It A Good Fit For Agencies?

There have never been more high quality choices for creating a web presence as there are today, which ultimately comes down to choosing a website platform that best serves your business needs. Duda focuses on the business needs of agencies that require the infrastructure to grow with more customers.

This article began with a WordPress versus Wix versus Duda angle.

But as I discussed each platform with the various stakeholders I came to realize that each platform did what they did really well serving, to a certain extent, a different user base.

Thus, this article became a three-part series exploring three different publishing platforms (Duda, WordPress and Wix) to understand what makes them the best in their chosen market.

Each platform is the best at what they do and today we look at why Duda is popular with web design and SEO agencies.

Choosing the Best Website Platform

Today there are two competing ways to create a web presence, proprietary (also known as closed source) and open source.

Proprietary content management systems take care of the technology underneath each website, freeing agencies and business owners to focus on growing their business.

Choosing a content management system (CMS) platform is not a matter of choosing the best CMS. It’s about choosing the platform that’s best for your business model.

The business case for closed source website building platforms like Duda or Wix is that they handle the technical aspects of building a website, allowing businesses to focus on their business without having to worry about updates, structured data, or optimizing for search engines.

Duda Professional Website Builder

Duda is a closed source platform designed to fulfill the needs of agencies and web professionals, regardless of size.

It offers collaboration and client management tools to help web professionals scale the process of launching and maintaining websites.

The focus on helping agencies scale is evident in the fact that Duda doesn’t charge customers extra for additional bandwidth or storage space.

What Duda excels at is making it easy and fast for agencies to prototype designs, collaborate with team members and clients and have all the features necessary for running a business on both the agency and the client side.

I asked Duda what makes Duda a good choice for agencies:

“The Duda platform is designed to help agencies build beautiful, modern websites for their clients faster than they ever thought possible at any scale.

No matter whether you have 10 or 10,000 clients, Duda provides agencies with an ultra-flexible platform that enables them to create conversion-driving websites with everything they need included–from hosting, templates, widgets, and SSL certificates all the way to our very knowledgeable support staff that is there to help agencies every step of the way.

Duda provides agencies with a user-friendly web design interface clients can access to update websites on their own.

And since the entire platform is white labeled, clients will only know you’re using Duda if you want them to.

Finally, Duda’s purpose is not only to be a leading website-building platform for agencies but also a valuable business partner for our agency customers, constantly seeking to support their business growth.

This vision guides us in everything we do as a company – from strategic business decisions to our product roadmap.”

Duda Scales Up for Growth

Wix’s model focuses on helping businesses easily build high performance websites and do business, with no technical knowledge necessary.

Duda’s approach is providing the white label technical infrastructure for agencies to build high performance websites for their clients, at scale.

Many SEO and web design agencies aspire to scale up to hundreds or even thousands of clients. Doing that demands a lot of technical infrastructure and human talent to take on the  prototyping, development and client collaboration at scale – all things that Duda provides.

I asked Duda how well they scale:

“Duda scales effectively.  In fact, Duda doesn’t charge its customers for storage or bandwidth, enabling them to scale without being concerned about incurring additional cost.

Duda’s platform is hosted on AWS. We guarantee 99.9% uptime and believe in transparency with regards to our uptime SLAs.

With Duda’s API, agencies can automate workflows to significantly increase efficiency and build client websites at scale.”

SEO is Baked into the Duda Platform

Performing well on search engines is critical.

As a closed source website building platform, Duda takes care of technical SEO factors as well as site speed performance, especially as measured by Google’s core web vitals metrics.

Core Web Vitals are performance metrics designed to measure how well a webpage performs for users.

A high core web vitals score will generally be matched with a better user experience, less visitor frustrations and higher conversion rates on sales.

Google’s support page about core web vitals shares why core web vitals track with higher sales and earnings:

“Studies show that better Core Web Vitals improves user engagement and business metrics. For example:

When a site meets the Core Web Vitals thresholds, research showed that users were 24% less likely to abandon page load.

With each 100ms reduction in Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), web conversion rate for Farfetch increased by 1.3%.

Reducing Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) by 0.2 led Yahoo! JAPAN to a 15% increase in page views per session, 13% longer session durations, and a 1.72 percentage point decrease in bounce rate.

Reducing CLS from 1.65 to 0 significantly uplifted domain rankings globally for redBus.”

Clearly, a high core web vitals score is important for websites and in general those high scores are difficult to achieve, except for sites created on the Duda platform.

Duda has long been known as the Core Web Vitals champion, as reported by the independent HTTPArchive, a score derived from a sampling of website performance as experienced by real website visitors.

The current core web vitals scores on HTTPArchive shows Duda outperforming both WordPress and Wix by a wide margin.

Duda shared this about how SEO is native to the platform:

This makes it possible for agencies to offer websites to their clients with low/no maintenance load.

In addition, Duda provides agencies with a user-friendly web design interface clients can access to update websites on their own.

And since the entire platform is white labeled, clients will only know you’re using Duda if you want them to.

Finally, Duda’s purpose is not only to be a leading website-building platform for agencies but also a valuable business partner for our agency customers, constantly seeking to support their business growth.

This vision guides us in everything we do as a company – from strategic business decisions to our product roadmap.”

Why Agencies Choose Duda

There are over 20,000 agencies who rely on Duda to help build and manage client websites, currently totalling over a million websites now hosted on the Duda platform.

I asked Duda why it was so popular with agencies.

They answered that there are five reasons why agencies choose Duda:

Agencies can build and maintain sites twice as fast compared to any other platform.

In addition, by integrating our platform directly into their service agencies can automate workflows, such as instant site creation, data collection, content management & more.

Duda offers numerous built-in tools that help agencies drive success for their clients without relying on third-party plugins.

Duda’s platform is regularly updated and maintained, ensuring a secure environment for websites.

Agencies don’t have to worry about keeping up with security patches or updates, as Duda handles this automatically.

Duda’s white-label capabilities allow agencies to fully brand the platform as their own, offering a cohesive and professional experience for their clients.

Duda provides dedicated customer support, ensuring agencies have access to expert assistance whenever needed.”

In short, Duda makes it easier for agencies to grow their business by making it easy to service more customers.

Brian Lewis, CEO of WebAct Inc (LinkedIn profile), shared why he is enthusiastic about Duda:

“With Duda we have all of our clients under one dashboard where we can manage everything in a single location.

For the development side of things, we can create custom widgets and apps and do custom API integrations with ease.

The ability to customize the experience for our clients and agencies is very helpful for integrating a custom solution or vertical.

For example, an automotive company may need a custom filter that connects to their software to upload vehicle information as well as having the users of the website search the entire inventory.

We have been using Duda for 11 years now.

Overall the platform is great, it gives us a complete solution for serving our clients.”

Duda Professional Website Builder

Duda calls itself a professional website builder as a way to distinguish itself as a tool for professionals who service clients.

I don’t think it’s fair or accurate when people plant a flag on the ground and proclaim that one platform is better than another.

An apple is an apple and an orange is an orange.

Duda happens to be a fine choice that professionals should consider when planning how to best serve their clients and grow their business.

Featured image by Shutterstock/HBRH

Does Teeth Whitening Work? And Is It Safe?

The new year is upon us. That means resolution time. Millions of people will dive into the anxifying world of self-improvement—through diet, exercise and whatnot. One thing that’s sure to be flying off drug store shelves: teeth whitening treatments.

Bleaching and scrubbing our pearly whites (so they become pearlier and whiter), has become an $11 billion-plus national obsession. Some of these off-the-shelf products, and even dental office procedures, have downsides. Before you beautify those canines, here are a few things to consider.

How did we get here?

Teeth whitening has been cultural compulsion going back to the Egyptians, who mixed wine vinegar with crushed pumice to polish their smiles. Even worse were the early Romans. (Skip this next part if you’re squeamish): They used urine to whiten their teeth; it turns out the ammonia contained in our wastewater excretions acts as a bleach. Good to know. Thankfully, today’s treatments are not so unsavory. Consumers have access to dozens of abrasives, bleaches, and lasers that will brighten their smiles without giving them ye olde urine breath.

How many of us shine our grills? In a 2013 U.S. survey, 89 percent of orthodontists said patients had asked them to whiten their teeth. Then there are all the over-the-counter kits that made up an $11 billion dollar market in 2013, a market that is expected to grow another $44 million by 2023.

So how good is this stuff for your teeth?

That depends on the treatment—and your teeth. Genetics, hygiene, and past dental work can all play a part. Whitening, for example, doesn’t work on crowns or veneers. There are some potential short term side effects, like tooth sensitivity. And longterm effects are still TBD. But on the whole, dentists say it works as long as you don’t get carried away. Keep in mind that everyone’s teeth are different, and the effectiveness and side effects will vary person to person.

Crest MultiCare Whitening toothpaste Scott Ehardt/Wikimedia Commons

Here’s how whitening works.

Teeth color with age. The tooth’s interior, known as the dentin, yellows, and the enamel (the protective outer layer) thins from a lifetime of brushing. Lifestyle choices, from drinking coffee and red wine to smoking and taking certain medications, such as tetracycline, can further discolor your teeth.

Whitening works in one of two ways. It either removes surface stains from the enamel or it changes the color of the dentin.

Whitening toothpastes use abrasives to scrub away surface stains. Because toothpaste works only on superficial stains, (as opposed to the inner dentin, where most discoloration actually occurs) the visible effect is pretty minimal. It’s usually no more than one shade lighter on the 16-point tooth shade scale and lasts as long as you keep it up.

If you do go this route, though, make sure you use an approved toothpaste so you’re not causing damage to the enamel. The list of toothpastes approved by the American Dental Association for safety and effectiveness includes six kinds from Colgate, five from Crest, and two from Tom’s of Maine.

To actually change the color of the dentin requires bleaching. This has a more dramatic effect, making teeth three to eight shades whiter. And the color lasts about two or three years.

What color are your teeth?

The Vita shade guide has 16 different shades.

Generally, bleach-based whiteners contain either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide (which reacts with water to form hydrogen peroxide). When these chemicals break down, they release oxygen into the enamel on the teeth, which lightens the color.

For professional bleaching, dentists tend to use high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, between 25 and 40 percent. This stuff can burn your gums, so the dentist will cover your gums with a rubber dam to protect them during treatment. This method is sometimes used in combination with a light or laser, though there’s no proof that this makes the treatment more effective.

At-home treatments come in the form of trays, gels, and adhesive strips. These methods use lower concentrations of the same chemicals, usually 5 to 15 percent hydrogen peroxide, which makes them safer.

Both methods have proved effective when used as directed.

A third method, popular among the lazy set, is a little weirder. Some people actually use whitening chewing gum and paint-on whitener, but neither seems to work. It can make you feel better about sticking to your New Year’s resolution, though. Same goes for DIY treatments such as strawberry and baking soda. They don’t seem to work, but they make you feel like you’re taking action.

You could, of course, concoct your own at-home whitening elixir, using diluted hydrogen peroxide. But the trick is getting the liquid to stay on your teeth for long enough (30 to 60 minutes) without coming into contact with your gums during that time. This is why the trays and strips are so handy, and so popular.

Okay, what’s the downside?

Like everything, moderation is key. People have been known to become so obsessed with their whitening results, that they use the kits far too often. The condition even has a name: bleachorexia, where people bleach over and over, sometimes as often as weekly, in a quest for ever-whiter teeth. (Not so different than tanorexia, though on the other end of the color spectrum.)

Such intense and repeated bleaching can wear down enamel to dangerous levels. Not only can this make teeth more sensitive, but it can expose more of the dentin, which could, ironically, make the teeth appear yellower. As a rule, don’t use the whitening treatments more often than recommended by your dentist or the instructions on the box.

For the non-obsessives among us, bleaching and these other treatments have very few lasting side-effects. Studies since the late 1980’s have shown that the short-term effects are mild and short-lived: just the occasional sensitive teeth or irritated gums following treatment. No long-term effects have been found in studies yet, but according to a review paper from 2009, more research is needed to be certain. Especially since most of the studies have been paid for by the companies that produce the whiteners.

One other thing to keep in mind. These are cosmetic procedures, so don’t confuse white teeth with healthy teeth. You still need to brush and floss (two to three times a day) if you want your teeth to last you a lifetime.

Whatever you do, don’t get your teeth whitened at a mall kiosk, in a spa, or on a cruise ship. Yes, these services exist and seem quite handy. But a number of states have actually passed laws to keep whitening at the dentist’s office. Don’t leave something as important as oral health in the hands of a mall worker.

Bottom line

Ask your dentist if you should whiten, even—or maybe especially—before going the over-the-counter route.

Follow-up if you feel tooth sensitivity to cold or heat, or if your gums get irritated.

And leave mall workers to peddle scented lotions and R/C helicopters—things that are (arguably) less risky to your health.

Is Deet Safe To Use?

DEET is a popular insect repellent—an estimated 30 percent of Americans use it every year—yet it sounds like a good number of people are wary of it, too. A Google search of “DEET dangers” found a Mercola article saying DEET kills mosquitoes, although it doesn’t (Perhaps they’ve confused DEET with DDT?). A site called FitSugar says “DEET pumps through your nervous system and has been proven to kill brain cells,” neither of which is true. Weird! Guess DEET does really suffer from a “perception problem,” as the Los Angeles Times reported in 2011.

Now, recent review of DEET’s effects on human health has found the insect repellent is safe to use on the skin. The review is one of several that researchers have done over the past 20 years, all finding that DEET is generally safe. In fact, there’s no direct evidence using DEET normally harms the nervous system. Bad reactions to DEET, when applied to the skin in bug sprays, are extremely rare, but not non-existent.

Why use DEET if there’s any risk of health problems at all? The chemical is the best insect repellent people have ever invented. Nothing else has the same history of efficacy, although a few others have strong evidence for them, too. Still, in regions where people are at risk for serious insect-borne diseases such as malaria or West Nile virus, DEET is what doctors recommend. In addition, doctors recommend using DEET in concentrations between 20 percent and 50 percent. The idea is that lower concentrations require people to reapply more frequently than they’re apt to (while concentrations higher than 50 percent don’t necessarily work better or longer). This means if you want DEET protection, you’ll have to resign yourself to using pretty high concentrations of the stuff.

Let’s start with the evidence for neurological problems from DEET, which FitSugar was so afraid of. In the scientific literature—in all of scientific literature since 1957, when DEET first appeared on store shelves—researchers have reported 14 cases of kids who suffered encephalopathy, including seizures, after using DEET on their skin. All but one were kids under age 8. Three children died. The others recovered fully. In each of the cases, it was difficult to determine whether DEET caused the brain symptoms. Such data are just hard to come by; the kids could have been exposed to other things, but it could have been the DEET, too.

DEET is the best insect repellent humans have ever invented.

More straightforward is one study researchers conducted, following women in Thailand who used DEET from their second trimester of pregnancy onward. DEET reduced the incidences of malaria the women suffered, the study found. In addition, babies born to moms who used DEET didn’t differ from babies born to moms who didn’t use DEET. Babies in the two groups had the same weights and lengths and had the same head circumferences. All the babies also performed the same in neurological tests.

The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has a page of reports in the U.S. of health problems in people after using DEET. Among the cases are two deaths in adults and three cases in which pregnant women who used large amounts of DEET gave birth to babies with problems. One baby died. As with the kids with encephalopathy, in the nearly all of the ATSDR-reported cases, it’s difficult to know if DEET was the culprit. Compared to how often people use DEET around the world, those cases are very rare. Researchers estimate people around the world put on DEET 200 million times a year.

These figures are all for people who use DEET on their skin. Doctors definitely don’t recommend ingesting a lot of DEET or getting it in your eyes. Don’t leave bug sprays in a place where a kid could do either by accident. MedlinePlus lists symptoms of DEET ingestion, plus recommendations for what to do if someone does consume a lot of DEET or get it in his eyes.

We’ll leave you with what’s perhaps science’s strangest report of DEET-related problems. From the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry:

Happy camping, dear readers.

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