NEW YORK -- There is a direct connection between oral health and overall health. "Oral conditions can mirror your body's health," according to Dr. Terry Gotthelf, who warns that "preventable oral diseases such as gum disease may affect other conditions, including heart and respiratory diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and stroke. Also, benchmarks of the female life cycle can be identified through benchmarks in the mouth."
"Many conditions apply to both genders, but male-female differences in basic biology become medically important in the pathology and treatment of disease," said Dr. Gotthelf, a dentist who established her midtown Manhattan practice 20 years ago.
Dr. Gotthelf will conduct a seminar, "The Mind-Body Connection, A Gateway to Women's Health," this Sunday, April 3rd, as part of the 92nd Street Y's Annual Women's Health Symposium that starts at 9:15 a.m. at the Y at Lexington Avenue and East 92nd Street. Call 212-415-5500 to register for the Symposium.
Dr. Gotthelf warns that periodontal disease, a bacterial infection of the tissues which support the teeth, and affects three out of four people over 35 years old, is associated with:
-- "Higher rates of stroke, heart and pulmonary disease...people with periodontal disease have nearly twice the risk of having a fatal heart attack as those with healthy gums."
-- "Premature low birth weight babies. Pregnant women with gum disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby born too early and too small, and these babies are more likely to have other health problems including breathing problems, jaundice, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, congestive heart failure and malnutrition."
-- "Diabetes is often exacerbated by periodontal disease and also manifest by such oral problems as 'dry mouth' (xerostomia), tooth decay and salivary and taste dysfunction. People with diabetes have a significantly higher incidence of severe periodontitis and vice versa, with periodontal infections contributing to problems with diabetic glycemic control."
-- "Osteoporosis, which is of particular concern to women, causes about 1.5 million bone fractures annually in the U.S. Many studies have demonstrated a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw, and postmenopausal women taking hormone replacement therapy have greater tooth retention."
-- "Stress, which can be manifest in the oral cavity through increased clenching and grinding of the teeth, known as TMJ syndrome, apthous ulcers and acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis."
Changes in female hormone levels also affect periodontal health, warns Dr. Gotthelf. She pointed out that "women's oral health care needs to change at certain specific times in their lives that are primarily related to fluctuations in female sex hormone levels, such as puberty, use of oral contraceptives, pregnancy and menopause. These fluctuations in hormone levels can cause an exaggerated response of the gums to bacterial plaque, which causes gum disease," and during these times extra vigilant home care and discussion with a dentist are needed to maintain oral health.
"Many women develop swollen and bleeding gums, or canker or cold sores, before and during menstruation," says Dr. Gotthelf. Among pregnant women, "up to 75 percent develop pregnancy gingivitis, and this increased susceptibility to gum disease usually occurs in the second and third month of pregnancy and increases in severity until the eighth month."
"When the mouth and oral cavity are disease free, susceptibility to other diseases throughout life may be reduced," says Dr. Gotthelf, who offers her patients a wide range of traditional and holistic therapies.
"There is ample evidence demonstrating the negative effects of stress and anxiety on health and healing. By incorporating alternative mind-body techniques with conventional dental treatment, we create an environment in which optimum healing can take place," Dr. Gotthelf said.
Dr. Gotthelf received a DDS from the New York University College of Dentistry. She also holds an MS in psychobiology from the University of Pittsburgh and a BA in psychology and philosophy from Barnard College. Dr. Gotthelf completed a General Practice Residency at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, and she earned a Certificate in Surgical and Prosthetic Implantology at the New York University College of Dentistry.
Her office is located at 19 West 34th Street in Manhattan, telephone 212-564-6682.
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