When I turned 49 a few months ago, I shared that I’m not emotionally worried about turning 50. I am , however, aware of the list of health checks and preventative measures coming in the next decade. My goal is the healthiest decade yet!
I decided to go to the experts and compile a series of posts about the types of docs to visit, health screenings to discuss, vitamins and supplements for our age, as well as the fun stuff like skin care regimens and maybe even injectables!
As I spoke to various health and wellness professionals, they shared that many patients exhibit real fear of preventative care. Many people delay regular checkups because of fear that “they’ll find something.” From dentists to gynecologists, women often postpone their own care until symptoms arise. These same women will spend thousands on hair, nails, and wardrobe, but balk at the cost of routine screening tests. One professional likened it to building a castle out of sand–it may look beautiful, but the foundation is too weak to withstand change.
Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile
I decided to tackle one of the most anxiety-inducing medical offices first: the dentist. I had a root canal at age 30 where the novocaine didn’t work, so for many years it has been torturous worry that i’ll need extensive dental work. When I do, I require medication to get me in the door. The fear is REAL.
Two other reasons to start with your mouth? First is the aesthetics. I frequently say the very best accessory we all have is our smiles. Healthy teeth boost confidence! It is nice to care for your health in a way that you can SEE the results. The second is the critical nature of dental health–in my research I learned that oral hygiene is tied to some of our most important systems and can lead to very sinister consequences.
While I knew from my personal experience of that first root canal that hormones (like those in pregnancy) can affect oral health, I did not see the connections the other way. Poor dental hygiene is linked to miscarriage, low birth weight for those in child-bearing years, but also to cardiac health, circulation, and more. The veins and arteries under the tongue have a rapid absorption rate, so you can actually see how important this connection is. A report from the Mayo clinic outlines some of the cautions we all need to consider and prioritize.
But what about the people with severe dental anxiety? My friend, a retired dentist, shared some of the latest and best technologies available to ease the stress. No longer just scrape and probe, dental hygienists now use ultrasonic power washers that pulse tartar from the teeth (I’ve had this. It is a lovely addition to teeth cleaning). Some fillings can avoid the drill with a sandblaster which doesn’t even require novocaine. Dentists now commonly fill teeth with white instead of amalgam/silver for a beautiful smile. Perhaps most important to those with dental anxiety is sedation dentistry. Many practitioners are providing sedation to bring comfort to patients.
The message from my dentist friend was clear–it is NEVER TOO LATE! If you suffer from this NORMAL but paralyzing fear, find an accountability partner who will help you find a sedation dentist for a simple consultation. Your first appointment needn’t require anything procedural, but an assessment of your concerns and making a plan of action. Ask about payment plans if you have insufficient coverage and extensive work. You are not alone in your fear, but caring for your mouth as part of your overall health must be the priority.
Orthodonture is something else to consider. While I know NO ONE wants braces as an adult, there are so many options to ensure you have a healthy bite and jaw alignment. I had braces in my teens, yet in my 30’s was cracking teeth and waking to an aching jaw every day. At 44, I got braces and in six short months, my bite and teeth were perfectly aligned and I haven’t needed any additional work since (KNOCK WOOD).
For those without any major issues to face, and even those who have, here’s a list of the ABSOLUTES in dental health:
- brush your teeth twice a day with flouride toothpaste (soft bristles ONLY)
- floss daily
- see your dentist for cleanings and checkups twice a year. Make sure these include annual xrays and oral cancer screenings.
- see a professional for any changes, pain, or concerns asap.
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.
I’ve also created this printable list of my favorite (and dentist-recommended) dental tools to keep on-hand. There are notes for some as to WHY they should be kept around. Everything is linked on Amazon and can ship right to YOU! Click the link at the photo to open the list…