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MY MOUTH IS FROM VENUS, YOUR MOUTH IS FROMMARS WHAT SETS MEN’S AND WOMEN’S ORAL HEALTH APART
I think the fact that he encouraged that mindset helped me succeed as a dentist. For a long time, dentistry was a male- dominated field, and even though about 50% of today’s dentists are women, it’s still pretty rare to see them in prominent positions. However, I was never afraid to go for those leadership roles, and over the years, I ended up getting quite a few of them. I’m proud of that, and I know my dad is, too! That said, even though my dad is proud of my work as a dentist, sometimes it’s still hard to get him to take my expertise seriously. Some of the areas I work in — dealing with airway problems, sleep apnea, and adult snoring, for example — were just starting to be explored when he was practicing, so I think sometimes it’s hard for him to deal with the fact that this is an area where a dentist, like myself, has expertise. Like many guys his age, my dad snores, and I had to pretty much drag him to a sleep physician to get it checked out. After telling him for years to make an appointment for himself, I finally did it for him and even drove him there myself. Sometimes that’s what it takes to get a stubborn dad to listen! (I’m sure you can relate.) The odds are pretty good that your dad snores, too, and there’s actually a medical reason men are more likely to saw logs than women. Men and women have different hormone profiles, and estrogen protects the female airway and keeps it from collapsing. That's why women are more likely to start snoring after going through menopause — they’ve lost a lot of the protection!
Father’s Day and Men’s Health Month both fall in June, so it seems only right to focus this newsletter on the guys in our lives. We’ve all been separated from our families for months now, so I’m sure you’re missing your dad as much as I’m missing mine! When I sat down to think about writing this article, it was hard to know what to tell you about my dad, but I finally settled on two things: • How his life lessons helped me succeed as a dentist • How he truly embodies one of the biggest dad stereotypes — snoring As you might remember, I come from a family of dentists. Both of my parents are dentists, and they really set an example for me. My dad is now retired. Instead of just telling me I’d make a great dentist, he showed me I could do anything I set my mind to. He inspired me to be active, get outside, and pursue all of my interests as a kid, even the ones that didn’t fall into the “girly” stereotypes of the time. Back when my friends’ parents were telling them not to climb trees or shoot guns because that was “for boys,” my dad was right there boosting me up into the branches!
From left to right: Rich (Dr. W's husband), Dr. W, and her dad.
Another difference between men’s and women’s mouths is that men have far fewer pain receptors than women. That means that when men grind their teeth, they often use a lot more force and end up putting more stress on their bones because they don’t feel as much TMJ pain in their jaws. This can lead to something called a torus, which is basically a lump of bone that grows on the roof of the mouth or on the bottom jaw under the tongue. Grinding can also cause bone loss or gum recession; I’ve even seen men crack their teeth or wear them down until the nerves are exposed! This Men’s Health Month, you might want to keep these things in mind and even share them with your dad and the other men you know. Here at Great Smiles, we can help with snoring, airway collapse, TMJ issues, and teeth grinding so you (or they!) can always reach out to us for assistance. And just because I know dads are tough and may need extra incentive, mention this month’s newsletter and receive $500 toward oral appliances for sleep apnea, $250 toward TMJ appliances, and $50 toward night guards. Plus, what better Father’s Day present is there than a lifetime of better sleep?
To your great smiles and better health,
–Dr. Michelle Wedd le
Dr. Weddle with her dad, Dr. Phillip Sabater.
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