Insightful Discussions
May 21, 2018

Women's Health: Dental Care

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How have recent advances in technology impacted women’s dental health?

We searched high and low in designing our practice and selecting certain technologies to bring an elevated experience in terms of comfort and convenience, which are often reasons people neglect to turn up at the dentist.
Who wouldn’t prefer to have a cavity removed without the sound of that drill or the frozen face that goes along with the injection?

We are thrilled to offer Solea laser technology, which has proven to be a game-changer for patients! I had to do one of each kind of filling (Solea without numbing versus numbing, plus drill) on a patient this week, and he said he would recommend the laser, since the other side of his mouth was numb for four hours after he left.

What impact can the work-life balance have on women’s dental health?

I read a baby book during my first pregnancy that detailed car seat safety rules and standards but specifically pointed out to make sure mom is buckled up. I’ve come to realize that mom often neglects taking care of her own health as she tends to the needs of her family.

We’re trying to make the twice-yearly trip to the dentist a little more family-friendly, with a playroom with iPads, Netflix and toys, as well as a dedicated child helper available several mornings each week. Not being able to arrange childcare shouldn’t be a hurdle to a woman’s own dental health.

How has the health care industry adapted to busy lifestyles?

The industry’s embracing of technology can enhance all aspects of going to the doctor/dentist. From online researching and selecting a health-care provider to easy appointment scheduling, busy women can really find the right partners for health care.

Staying engaged online allows prospective patients to have a good feeling about selecting our studio before committing, and we want it to be easy to schedule time for them. Patients can click on our Google contact and directly text me to arrange an appointment when it’s convenient for them, not just during typical business hours.

A misnomer we often encounter is it’s too expensive to visit the dentist if you don’t have dental insurance benefits, which is about 50 percent of the U.S. population. We wanted to make sure everyone had access, so we created the REVIVE Membership Plan. For a yearly fee, patients get their basic twice-yearly appointments covered in full, with additional savings on all other services. It has proven to be quite popular with our patients.

What dental issues should women be concerned with as they age?

Women are more subject to hormonal effects on their oral health, which can fluctuate with life stage.

Most women will notice more bleeding when they brush and floss during pregnancy, but these changes are usually reversible postpartum. Pregnant women and those trying to conceive should check in with their dentist to rule out gum disease and have regular teeth cleanings, as some studies have shown links to preterm, low birth weight babies.

Post-menopause and/or taking some of the most common daily medications, most women will notice an increase in mouth dryness, which unfortunately contributes to higher risk for cavities, but we have some great protective toothpastes and mouth rinses to help offset those risks.

What impact could dental issues have on women’s overall health?

Researchers are investigating ties between long-term gum inflammation and cancer, as well as diabetes, respiratory diseases and heart disease. Chronic inflammation causes DNA damage and produces chemicals in the bloodstream that might play a role in increased risks for heart disease and cancer. It takes years to make definitive statements on causation and correlation, but anything we can do to lower our potential cancer risk is worth some consideration.

Additionally, the psychological and emotional issues that can arise from not being a regular dental patient can be so hard to overcome. People are sometimes embarrassed or ashamed to see the dentist for fear of judgment, and for regular patients who have severely worn their front teeth, their smile confidence has eroded.

We want to be a caring home for these patients. When I was picking out equipment for our new studio, I chose heated massage dental chairs. What a great thing to help an anxious person relax and maybe distract from some of the traditional heart-stoppers about a dental office.

We take the time to listen to our patients before, during and after the dental stuff. We want you to feel comfortable with us, so we can truly go on this journey together.

How can women be proactive about their dental health?

The old standard of brushing and flossing is still golden. There are many options on the market to keep this routine fresh, like electric toothbrushes – including Sonicare Diamond Clean, which has sensors to track how long you’re brushing, and fancy “faux-flossing” devices, such as Sonicare AirFloss, to help folks get into a steadier oral routine.

One surprise trend we’ve noticed is lots of women have shed their Diet Coke habit but picked up a LaCroix one. The dental effects of all-day sipping on carbonated flavored water can cause a crazy amount of enamel loss on the teeth’s chewing surfaces. During our first meeting with new patients, we use photography of their teeth to show them what we see. Patients are shocked!

Our tip – no brushing for one hour after consumption of acidic foods and/ or beverages. The scrubbing action of a brush over a bathed-in-acid tooth is super harsh, and the mouth needs time to re-establish a neutral pH.

How can women advocate for their own health?

Go get some wellness checkups! Find a primary care provider, a therapist, a dentist. Build relationships with these partners. Life is moving so fast these days, the struggle for women to take care of themselves is real. Little issues left unchecked can turn into lifechanging events.

My Mom had her first colonoscopy at 53 and had some polyps, but never found time to do the follow-up. She was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer three months after she retired at age 62. Five years later, she is one of the incredibly lucky ones, but her life is so different now. Early intervention in gum disease, depression, tummy issues is key... check-ups, ladies!

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