Women’s Dental Issues

Womens Issues

Throughout a woman’s life, hormonal changes affect tissue throughout the body. Fluctuations in levels occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. At these times, the chance of periodontal disease may increase, requiring special care of your oral health. Please visit, www.perio.org

Menopause

Changes in the look and feel of your mouth may occur if you are menopausal or post-menopausal. They include feeling pain and burning in your gum tissue and salty, peppery or sour tastes.  Careful oral hygiene at home and professional cleaning may relieve these symptoms.

Should you notice dry mouth, please consult your dentist or periodontist. Dry mouth can lead to decay and periodontal disease. There are also saliva substitutes to treat the effects of “dry mouth”. Please visit, www.perio.org

Menstruation

Similar symptoms occasionally appear several days before menstruation. There can be bleeding of the gums, bright red swelling between the teeth and gum, or sores on the inside of the cheek. The symptoms clear up once the period has started. As the amount of hormones decrease, so do these problems. Please visit, www.perio.org

Puberty

During puberty, there is an increased production of hormones.  These higher levels increase gum sensitivity and lead to greater irritations from plaque and food particles. The gums can become swollen, turn red and feel tender. Overtime, with poor plaque control, chronic periodontal disease can develop. Please visit, www.perio.org

Pregnancy

Your gums and teeth are also affected during pregnancy.  Between the second and eighth month, your gums may also swell, bleed and become red or tender. Large lumps may appear as a reaction to local irritants. However, these growths are generally painless and non-cancerous. They may require professional removal, but usually disappear after pregnancy. Periodontal health should be part of your prenatal care. Any infections during pregnancy, including periodontal infections, can place a baby’s health at risk.

The best way to prevent periodonal infections is to begin with healthy gums and continue to maintain your oral health with proper home care and careful professional monitoring. In some situations, more frequent cleaning may be needed. Please visit, www.perio.org

Oral Contraceptives

Swelling, bleeding and tenderness of the gums may also occur when you are taking oral contraceptives, which are synthetic hormones. You must mention any prescriptions you are taking, including oral contraceptives, prior to medical or dental treatment.  This will help eliminate risk of drug interactions, such as antibiotics with oral contraceptives – where the effectiveness of the contraceptive can be lessened. Please visit, www.perio.org

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which bones are thin and weakened. Researchers have suggested a link between osteoporosis and tooth loss do to decreases in bone density.  Thus, the prevention of inflammatory periodontal disease is important if you are prone to osteoporosis. Please visit, www. nof.org.

Patrick J. Morris DDS MS

 

Women: Tips for Handling Holiday Stress

If you’re “dashing through the snow” this holiday season, chances are you’re experiencing stress — especially if you’re a woman. Women are vulnerable to stress due to:

  • Socialization. Women are taught to nurture others and spend less time caring for themselves. They often feel guilty saying “no.”
  • Too many hats. About 70 percent of married women with children under 18 work also outside the home. Struggling to meet the “male standard” at work and the “perfect wife and mother” standard at home is a recipe for stress.
  • Hormones. Premenstrual, post-partum and menopausal hormone changes make women more biologically vulnerable than men to stress and depression.

Even positive change causes stress

Stress is normal; it’s a physiological or emotional response to stimuli.“It is how we react and handle demands placed on our body,” explains Lauren Weber, DO, of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Specialized Women’s Health. “Even positive life events, like a new baby or a job promotion, trigger stress because they cause so much change and create new demands in our lives.”

The triggers of stress are different for everyone but the effects are similar, and include:

  • Negative thinking and depression
  • Trouble concentrating and making decisions
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Anger and hostility
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Excessive smoking or eating

Tactics for managing stress

Stress isn’t all bad. It can be motivating if you learn to manage it. According to Dr. Weber, the first step is identifying the cause of stress to see if you can eliminate it. If not, you can experiment with one of these coping strategies:

  • Writing thoughts and feelings in a journal
  • Crafting, gardening, or another hobby you enjoy
  • Playing with pets
  • Exercise, dancing or yoga
  • Meditating
  • Taking leisurely baths
  • Talking to friends
  • Listening to or playing music
  • Joining a choir or book club

Carving out daily “me time” for an activity that soothes you is essential during periods of stress. You may find yourself relaxing and forgetting your troubles, even for a short period of time. Dr. Weber also suggests a practical stress-prevention tip: “Make sure you leave plenty of time to get somewhere so you are not late.”

Making a list and checking it twice

Making lists is another way to make hectic times like holidays manageable. Write down everything you need to do, and cross tasks off as you complete them. You’ll see how much you’ve achieved, and just what still needs doing. And don’t be afraid to assign a few tasks to someone else — it’s OK to ask for help.

In striving to relieve your stress, avoid these common temptations:

  • Drinking excessive alcohol
  • Using drugs
  • Driving recklessly
  • Overspending

They will only compound your stress in the future. Even drinking too much caffeine — including energy drinks — can worsen  stress. So can the resulting lack of sleep!

Talk to your doctor

If you find your stress completely unmanageable, talk to your physician. Your doctor may recommend medication, acupuncture or massage therapy, or refer you to a therapist to work through larger issues.

Meanwhile, don’t sentence yourself to a stress-filled existence. Take steps to reduce your stress so that you can get back to “making spirits bright” for the holidays.

By , Family Health | Women’s Health

Let’s Talk About Alzheimer’s – by Linda Fisher

Before Alzheimer’s came into my life, I considered it to be an equal opportunity disease affecting males and females the same way. During my years of involvement, I began to realize that Alzheimer’s had a bigger impact on women than on men.

 

The 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures includes a “Special Report: Women and Alzheimer’s Disease.”  This report highlights several studies that bear witness to the higher burden the disease has on women.

 

Out of all Americans with Alzheimer’s, two-thirds are women. Why? The most obvious factor is age. Women have longer lifespans and are more likely to reach the age of highest risk. Women are more concerned than men about developing Alzheimer’s, and with good reason. A sixty-five year old woman has a 20 percent lifetime risk of developing dementia during her lifetime. I don’t know about you, but I’m not happy with those odds.

 

I admit that before Jim developed dementia, I never gave much consideration to how unfair Alzheimer’s is to the person with the disease and the caregiver. I had no concept of the breadth and scope of the disease—how all consuming it can be.

 

Being a caregiver for my husband was never a part of my vision of our life together. Jim never seemed like the type of person who would ever be anything but decisive, a man of strong convictions, protective, creative, and loving. Never in my wildest imagination could I have envisioned the turn our lives would take when he developed dementia. And certainly, if an Alzheimer’s type of dementia had ever entered my mind, I would have thought of him as an elderly man, not one who wouldn’t live to see his sixtieth birthday.

 

The job of caregiver falls more often on women. They are two and a half times more likely than men to be that caregiver who provides the around the clock care for a loved one who is in the late stages of the disease. These female caregivers are made up of daughters, wives, siblings, friends, and in younger onset—mothers. In a study of caregivers, indications are that females are substantially more likely than males to provide intimate personal care for their loved one with Alzheimer’s. Just like me, other women caregivers take on bathing, dressing, toileting, and changing adult diapers.

 

Caring for a loved one is hard work and stressful. Women report a higher level of emotional stress than men (62 percent vs. 52 percent) and greater physical stress (47 percent vs. 24 percent).

 

Women’s employment is affected adversely by caregiving. Twice as many women as men give up employment entirely to be caregivers. Seven times as many women as men go from working full-time to part-time in order to be a caregiver.

 

I was in my forties when Jim developed dementia and worked full-time. Quitting work wasn’t an option for me. There were times when the challenges of juggling a job and caregiving seemed overwhelming. Jim didn’t require but about four hours of sleep at night and that meant that I often went to work sleep deprived and emotionally drained. When I hired caregivers to come into my home, they would often arrive late, or call at the last minute that they couldn’t come. Because they were undependable, it made me, as an employee, feel undependable too. Fortunately, my employer allowed me the flexibility I needed to work around caregiving issues. They knew that from time-to-time I would receive a phone call and have to go home to tend to the latest challenge—wandering, refusing to let someone else do something for him, or just to comfort him when he was scared or depressed.

 

I was young compared to most women who are caring for spouses with Alzheimer’s. When I found myself feeling defeated, I couldn’t help but wonder how elderly ladies could manage to be a full-time caregiver.

 

Think about it—as a woman you are more likely to be a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, and then, after years of caregiving, you are more likely to develop the disease. We women have a large stake in ending Alzheimer’s. Our brains matter to us, and we want to keep them healthy throughout our lifetimes. We need to join together as women, as caring people, as advocates to end Alzheimer’s now.

 

copyright © March 2014 by L.S. Fisher

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