Practicing Self-Care

A Cautionary Tale About the Dangers of Women Ignoring Their Own Health

Article by Alma Lombardo, D.D.S.

Photography by Stephen Neilson

Originally published in SW Lake Lifestyle

Last week a new patient of mine said something that reminded me of something flight attendants always say before a plane takes off: “In the event of an emergency, put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.”

When a plane loses cabin pressure, there is limited time to put on a mask before suffering from oxygen deprivation. If you pass out, you can’t help anyone else, such as a child or older passenger. We put on our own mask first, so we can help others.

Even though she was a new patient, I’ve known her for the last five years because she brings her kids to see me like clockwork every six months. She also schedules her husband’s appointments and recently started bringing her mother-in-law. It’s obvious that she cares about her family’s health by taking the time to ensure they are well cared for.

So, when she finally got herself into my dental chair, I was surprised to learn that she had not seen a dentist since her first child was born eight years ago. When I asked her why she always made sure her family saw the dentist regularly, but not herself, she replied, “Who has the time?”

And that is why I thought of the safety drill we hear whenever we fly.

My new patient and countless women just like her constantly put others ahead of themselves. Whether it’s their children, spouse, aging parents, or their busy careers, there is unspoken societal pressure on women to ignore their own needs and to take care of others. But just like putting on someone else’s oxygen mask first, this is risky behavior.

The CDC reports that 47.2% of Americans over 30 have some form of periodontal disease, and that figure rises to a staggering 70.1% by age 65. As a dentist, these figures are very troubling because gum disease has been linked to a myriad of health problems such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, stroke and even heart disease, the number one killer of women in America. In fact, people with gum disease are three times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

Ladies, we need to start taking better care of ourselves, and our oral health is a critical component of our overall health. With so many harmful medical conditions associated with poor oral health, it is more important than ever to make the time to see the dentist regularly—if not for ourselves, then for our families.

Dr. Alma Lombardo is a practicing dentist and owner of Diamond Dental Services in Lake Zurich. Learn more at DiamondDentalService.com and call 847.550.3134 to schedule an appointment.

Quick Tips for Better Women’s Health

  • Exercise daily; even a walk helps your cardiovascular system.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • See your physician for regular check-ups and be sure to ask about dietary supplements.
  • See your dentist every six months – it really does matter.
  • Spend at least 10 minutes daily on a renewal activity, such as meditating, listening to uplifting music, observing nature, or reading an inspirational book.

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