Women: Tough Cookies, or Delicate Flowers

Posted on 05/14/2018

Paula Casalena, RDH
Michele McQuillan

Every year, Mother's Day marks the beginning of National Women's Health Week, an event focused on promoting better health in women of all ages. During this time, it is important to remember that oral care should be a part of our larger health care plans. Both men and women may experience many of the same oral health issues, but physiological issues, unique to women, can impact how oral health issues develop over the course of our lifetime. Our office realizes the importance of these issues, so when our Doctors asked us to put our thoughts together on how to better serve our female population, it got us to thinking: Are women patients tough cookies, or delicate flowers?

We say both! We women do a lot and give ourselves very little credit. One of the biggest complaints we hear in the chair when speaking to women about taking care of themselves is, "I don't have time." We find time to care for everyone else, yet somehow find it difficult or even feel guilty when it comes to taking care of ourselves. We know you've heard the saying, "when Mama's happy, everybody's happy!" So how do we make Mama happy? Start by making small commitments to yourself. Taking care of your oral health is a very impactful way of taking care of yourself, and really doesn't require much time. Seriously, are you really going to tell us that you can't give yourself 3 minutes, 2 times a day?! Really? That's only 5-6 minutes of your precious time. Not to mention the message you send to all the little women in your life who are watching and learning from your actions, such as your kids, your grandkids, nieces, neighbors, etc. Your impact is great! Show them to care for others, you must first care for yourself!

We women are tough, but our physiological and hormonal balances are delicate. By eating balanced whole foods, hydrating, getting enough rest, and yes, daily hygiene, we can ensure that we can tackle whatever the day may throw our way. Additionally, there are many hormonal changes that impact our health, happiness, and well-being, starting at adolescence with our menstrual cycle, and on through menopause. We heard that! Don't groan! These hormones are meant to be celebrated, they make us the superheroes we are! Yet, sometimes these hormonal surges in our bodies combined with increased plaque bacteria can cause puffy, bleeding gums, sometimes known as "pregnancy gingivitis", or "hormonal gingivitis." Luckily, the best way to control this is also simple. Ready? 2 minutes of brushing, 2 times a day, thoroughly at the gum line, massaging the gums with the bristles of your toothbrush, and then floss. Easy peasy.

For those of us on the other side of the hormonal spectrum, you may find your mouth dry or burning, especially if you are taking multiple systemic medications. Make sure to drink plenty of water, and use toothpaste that does not contain Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) as it can further irritate your delicate oral tissues, and of course, following the above brushing and flossing instructions. We like to keep it simple sillies!

Most of all make sure to come in and see your dentist and dental hygienist for preventative cleanings and care. While most things are simple, we are a great resource for your oral health and can direct you to the care that may be necessary if things get more complicated. We at CMB Family Dentistry are proud to support and celebrate National Women's Health Week, and we are committed to helping you improve your oral and overall health. You owe it to yourself and those who count on you to take care of yourself! You've got this!

Paula and Michele