Red Hot Mamas® is the leading provider of menopause education and support programs in the United States and Canada, and has been educating and engaging women, and healthcare providers, since 1991. The organization has focused solely on providing information and support to women to help optimize their health at menopause and beyond.
“Summer is like a one night stand…hot as hell, totally thrilling, and gone before you know it”
Dear Red Hot Mamas,
It’s July and many of us like to make use of the nice weather and go outdoors as often as possible. Summer holidays are a special time for many of us. It allows us to get outside and enjoy the beautiful rays of the sun and come in with a golden sun-kissed skin. However, it’s important to take proper precautions from the ultraviolet rays that come from the sun. They can be extremely harmful to your skin and your eyes.
Personally for me, gone are the days when I was a backyard sun worshipper. Yes, I admit to slathering on baby oil in the quest to get a deep, dark tan. But, today, I’m more interested in protecting my skin and eyes from the sun’s harmful rays than ever before.
I’ve educated myself enough to know that tanning causes skin cancer; tanning causes wrinkles; tanning causes blotchy sunspots on the skin; tanning makes you look older and it can kill you.
The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light can also harm your eyes. Too much exposure to UV light raises the risk of eye diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancer. And, women face higher risks of blindness than men. So, we should make vision a top priority by actively protecting our eye health. We can do this during the summer by wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection and a hat while enjoying the time outdoors.
Some red hot tips to protect your skin include:
Wear proper lightweight clothing like thin linen and cottonas they are good choices in the hot weather. Another option is sun-protective clothing which has a fabric that is treated to reduce exposures to UV rays
Wear a hat with a brim that protects your face, ears and neck
Sit in the shade under an umbrella or underneath a tree which can help to reduce UV rays
Stay out of the sunbetween 10 am and 4 pm because during that time you will get the most hazardous UV exposure
Apply sunscreen which has ingredients that help prevent UV rays from damaging the skin. For daily use, products with SPF of 30 are adequate. On days of intense sun exposure, choose a sunscreen with the highest sun protection factor (SPF) and broad spectrum (both UVA and UVB) protection. Use sunscreen on your face every day and any sun-exposed areas.
In closing, there is a dark side of the sun. Tanning and over exposure to the sun is what smoking is to the lungs. The good news is you can easily protect yourself by taking precautions when you are outdoors.
Summer can elicit a lot of different feelings. You might be looking forward to the vacation of a lifetime, hanging out at the pool, or spending some much needed time with the grandkids. On the other hand, if you’re struggling with the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, you may be dreading the dog days of summer even before they get here.
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with a few great tips for beating the summer heat and keeping hot flashes under control so that you don’t have to miss any of the fun this summer.
Choose Foods that Ease Symptoms
Nothing is quite as refreshing as a cold glass of water when you’re dripping with sweat. However, we all know a cold drink isn’t the only thing you can use to ease the discomforts of menopause – in fact, what you drink might not only cool you down, but food itself can also affect your symptoms in both good and bad ways. For example, increasing your dairy intake can boost bone health and even improve the quality of your sleep, which is especially important if you plan on running around most of the summer chasing kids and being in the sun. Be sure that you’re getting plenty of whole grains, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables as well. Avoid spicy foods, added sugars, and excess caffeine, which don’t mix well with the heat of the season.
If you’re looking for treats that can run double-duty by keeping you cool and minimizing the risk of hot flashes, keep chilled fruits and veggies on hand. You can even freeze fruits and use them in smoothies for a refreshing and healthy afternoon snack, to sip on when the sun is high in the sky. If you want to indulge your sweet tooth and have a little fun with the grandkids or your spouse, consider stirring up a batch of homemade coffee can ice cream – but only in moderation, as too much caffeine might have the opposite effect on your body.
Plan Outdoor Events in the Evening
Hot flashes shouldn’t keep you from enjoying and even hosting summertime events like pool parties and backyard barbecues, meaning you should plan your events for the evening or early morning to avoid the sun’s rays when they’re the strongest. If your parties tend to go long and you want to keep socializing later into the day, though, you have an excellent reason to upgrade your outdoor space to boast areas of your yard for intimate conversations, cocktail parties, and even lighting that makes yard games possible after the sun goes down.
Dress for Hot Flashes
When a hot flash hits, your first instinct is to probably remove as much clothing as you can. Obviously when you’re out and about this isn’t always possible, so learning how to dress for hot flashes is essential so you’re never caught off guard. For example, you might believe 100% cotton garments are most breathable – and while this is technically true, they also soak up any sweat that hits them, meaning a hot-flash could disrupt your overall look without warning. Instead, dress in moisture-wicking fabrics that are often found in clothing made for athletes.
What more, consider dressing in layers if you’re going to be inside so that you can shed one or two pieces if needed. If you’re going to a special event or plan on being outside for an extended period of time, pack an extra blouse so that if you have a hot flash that leaves you uncomfortable, you can change and feel refreshed.
Plan Indoor Fun
If you have an upcoming play date with the grandkids and the weather looks like a scorcher, plan a few fun indoor activities instead. Try some safe craft paint activities, grab a few new coloring books, or make lighting bug habitats together during the day that you can fill up at night. You can also try indoor fun with the grands such as learning how ink is made, making your own snow, or experimenting with chemical reactions. These science experiments might even get grandpa excited, too!
Pack an Umbrella
Don’t forget to pack an umbrella if you’re going to the beach or the pool, in order to keep you out of the sun’s direct rays. This will help keep you a bit cooler and provide some summer sun protection for your skin, too.
Know When It’s Something More
While all types of hot flashes can be downright miserable, you need to make sure you know the difference between hot flashes and heat illness, especially during the summer months. Heat stroke happens when your body overheats from prolonged exposure to high temperatures, and can be very dangerous if not acted upon right away.
If you’re outside and start feeling like maybe it’s more than just a hot flash, move indoors right away, remove excess clothing, and cool down with a refreshing beverage or even a cold shower or bath if possible. A few signs that it might be heatstroke include:
Elevated temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
Hot, dry skin and very little sweat
Confusion, agitation, or other changes in mental state
Increased breathing and heart rate
Nausea and Vomiting
Breathe Through the Worry
If you tend to worry about having a hot flash before it even starts, try mindfulness exercises like meditation or yoga. When you work on connecting your mind and body through these practices, you can ease your thoughts and better control what you worry about. Meditation can also help you connect with your breath anytime you start to worry about a hot flash to ease the worrying.
Enjoy Your Summer
The symptoms of menopause aren’t just uncomfortable, they can cause you to worry and even begin to change behaviors just to avoid dealing with the inconveniences. However, we hope you can use these tips to keep you cool, worry-free, and enjoying your summer months!
Author Bio: Brooke Faulkner is a mother of two and animal lover from Portland, Oregon.
Written by Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. -Guest Contributor
Obesity is quickly becoming a major health problem. While obesity can cause many issues, many might be surprised to learn that obesity can be a major source of lower back pain. In fact, in 2015, the American Journal of Epidemiology conducted a study that found that lower pain back can be caused by having a larger body mass index. Below you’ll find more information about the connection between obesity and lower back pain. You’ll also discover some ways you can help to relieve any lower back pain you might be having due to it.
What Causes Obesity? Lower Back Pain?
The main cause of obesity is when you overeat. In other words, your body is absorbing more calories than it knows what to do with. While obesity is mainly caused by lifestyle changes, it can also be due to genetics or metabolic issues.
Lower back pain is mainly due to spinal discs shifting. While it is normal to have back pain as you age, obesity puts extra force on these discs. Because of this, it can cause severe pain to the spine.
The Problems Obesity Can Bring
Besides lower back pain, obesity brings with it plenty of other problems.
❏ Type 2 diabetes
❏ Fatty liver disease
❏ Kidney disease
❏ Heart disease
❏ High blood pressure
If you’re not sure whether or not you might be obese, you can check a Body Mass Index (BMI) chart. The chart will tell you the right weight you should be based on things such as your height and age.
How it Affects the Lower Back
As mentioned above, obesity can cause spinal discs to slip. It can also create pressure on the bottom of the spine. This problem causes the body to form a large amount of weight around the waist and hips. The abnormal collection of weight in this area can also gather around the lower back causing pain.
To help conform to the current situation, the spine tries to tilt and adjust itself. This can also create a strange curvature in it. The abnormal spine curvature will not only cause pain, but could make it difficult for you to stand or walk.
Ways to Help Relieve Lower Back Pain
Thankfully, there are numerous ways you can eradicate lower back pain, especially if it’s caused by obesity.
See a Chiropractor
One of the best ways to help relieve lower back pain due to obesity is by using the services of a chiropractor. They can adjust your spine and body to help provide instant relief. The adjustments also work to help realign your spine to help stop future lower back pain. These adjustments also decrease pressure on your nervous system which results in reduced pain throughout your body.
Chiropractors can also help with increasing your mobility. By adjusting various body parts, you’ll be able to move them more freely. This can help with you exercising better and getting around effortlessly.
When many hear the word “exercise” they think of intense workouts with heavy weights and other powerful fitness equipment. While this can be helpful, even just a daily walk around the block can be beneficial for lower back pain. It can also help you to lose weight. Other simple exercises to consider are:
❏ Squats from a chair
❏ Static lunges
❏ Suitcase carries
❏ Water jogging
❏ Basic strength training
You can try these simple exercises yourself, or hire a trainer who can create a routine that fits your needs perfectly.
Try CBD Oil or Cream
CBD has become a miracle option for many different health problems. The oil or cream will absorb into your skin and block pain receptors. This can eventually help with reducing and eliminating lower back pain. It also works to stop inflammation, a common problem obesity causes in the body. However, for most CBD products, you need to have a doctor’s approval.
Watch Your Posture
Lower back pain is often caused by incorrect posture. Obesity can create a curvature in the spine resulting in it shifting to awkward positions.
While it might be hard at first, it’s important to correct your posture. This can help to prevent extra pressure on the spine. To properly sit or walk, keep your spine straight while pushing your shoulders slightly back. If this is difficult, you can invest in a posture chair or pillow to help you out.
A brace can also help you with any lower back problems. You can wrap it around your abdomen and lower back which will help to provide it with support. A brace can also help with reducing strain which can prevent future back pain.
Get a Massage
A massage can also help to release tension from the lower back. Massage therapists can work to relieve pressure around the spine. This helps to soothe the area and work to remove muscle knots and inflammation.
Besides this, massages can also help with circulation. This works to bring much-needed nutrients to the bones and tissues to encourage them to stay healthy.
There are various types of massages you can try out to help with lower back pain, but there are two to really consider trying if your problem is caused by obesity:
❏ QL muscle massage – helps with pelvic stability.
❏ Neuromuscular massage – works to release friction in the spine and heal certain trigger points.
If you prefer to do a massage yourself, you can take your hands and make soft circular motions on your lower back. You’ll want to continue this for a few minutes to help release tension. You can also invest in a back massager which can do deeper strokes than you can do by hand.
Ice it Down
If you need to find quick relief, ice can help to soothe inflammation. This cold therapy works to numb the area. Because of this, it can also prevent severe pain in the future.
Obesity has become a common problem in today’s world. It not only can make you feel sick and lethargic, but can cause many other problems, like intense lower back pain. While it can be difficult to fully get rid of this problem, there are various methods you can try to help relieve it, such as the ones mentioned in this article.
About Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.
Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor’s of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He and his wife founded Better Health Chiropractor Wasilla AK. He became passionate about being a professional chiropractor after his own experiences with medical doctors. The goal for Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment. Wells is a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. He continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.
Since hitting menopause the most significant symptom that has ailed me is back pain. Can you provide information as to what can help? Thanks for being there for me always through your educational efforts.
Thank you for writing to Red Hot Mamas. Back pain is quite common and is the cause of many women to go to their doctors.
Here are some ways which may help:
Massage, especially deep tissue massage may help to break up knots known as adhesions. There may be some discomfort during an intense massage, so speak to your massage therapist before having a massage.
Heat wrap therapy may help. Try using a heating pad or a press on heating pad from the drug store. Moist heat seems to work better than dry heat.
Exercise – Exercise can reduce pain and improve physical function. The best type of exercise is one that incorporates stretching and strengthening. Pilates or barre exercises are good options. And, lift weights properly.
Ensure that your seating is right. The best chair for back pain will not let you slouch. When you slouch, your shoulders and head move forward in an unnatural position which puts strain on your spine and neck causing stress on your lower back.
You can also speak to your doctor/healthcare professional about whether medications such as muscle relaxants, pain medications or even surgery is necessary for you.
Oftentimes, the winning formula to get rid of back pain incorporates different strategies, but exercise is a must.
“Summer afternoon-summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
– Henry James
Dear Red Hot Mamas,
June is National Safety Month. Red Hot Mamas organization would like to encourage you to learn more ways to prevent injuries. It’s so important for you to be aware of safety issues like preventing poisonings, transportation safety, as well as preventing slips, trips and falls.
Let’s look at why these items are so relevant:
In the US:
Emergency Departments Visits:
Number of emergency department visits for injuries: 45.5 million (includes visits for adverse effects of medical treatment)
Injuries are a leading cause of death for Americans. But there is good news. You all can get involved to help prevent injuries like preventing poisonings, transportation safety, and slips, trips, and falls.
Here are some more interesting facts:
Poisonings: Nine out of 10 poisonings happen right at home. You can be poisoned by many things, like cleaning products or another person’s medicine.
Transportation safety: Doing other activities while driving – like texting or eating – distracts you and increases your chance of crashing. Almost 1 in 6 crashes where someone is injured involves distracted driving.
Slips, trips, and falls: More than 1 in 4 older adults fall each year. Many falls lead to broken bones or head injuries.
Red Hot Tips to Prevent Poisonings:
Drugs and Medicines
Only take prescription medications that are prescribed to you by a healthcare professional. Misusing or abusing prescription or over-the-counter medications is not a “safe” alternative to illicit substance abuse.
Never take larger or more frequent doses of your medications, particularly prescription pain medications, to try to get faster or more powerful effects.
Never share or sell your prescription drugs. Keep all prescription medicines (especially prescription painkillers), over-the-counter medicines (including pain or fever relievers and cough and cold medicines), vitamins and herbals in a safe place that can only be reached by people who take or give them.
Follow directions on the label when you give or take medicines. Read all warning labels. Some medicines cannot be taken safely when you take other medicines or drink alcohol.
Turn on a light when you give or take medicines at night so that you know you have the correct amount of the right medicine.
Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers.
Always read the label before using a product that may be poisonous.
Keep chemical products in their original bottles or containers. Do not use food containers such as cups, bottles, or jars to store chemical products such as cleaning solutions or beauty products.
Wear protective clothing (gloves, long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes) for and use of chemicals and pesticides.
Never mix household products together. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia can result in toxic gases.
Turn on the fan and open windows when using chemical products such as household cleaners.
Read the label again and again.
Put the poison help number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and save it on your cell phone. The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Red Hot Driving Safety Tips:
Keep 100% of your attention on driving at all times – no multi-tasking.
Don’t use your phone or any other electronic device while driving.
Slow down. Speeding gives you less time to react and increases the severity of an accident.
Be aware of what other drivers around you are doing and expect the unexpected.
Assume other motorists will do something crazy, and always be prepared to avoid it.
Keep a 4 second cushion between you and the car in front of you. (Example: one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four Mississippi)
Make a safe driving plan
Build time into your trip schedule to stop for food, rest breaks, phone calls or other business.
Adjust your seat, mirrors and climate controls before putting the car in gear.
Pull over to eat or drink. It takes only a few minutes.
Don’t attempt to retrieve items that fall to the floor.
Have items needed within easy reach – such as toll fees, toll cards and garage passes.
Always wear your seat belt and drive sober and drug-free.
Avoid driving when you’re tired. Be aware that some medications cause drowsiness and make operating a vehicle very dangerous.
Always use caution when changing lanes. Cutting in front of someone, changing lanes too fast or not using your signals may cause an accident or upset other drivers.
Let’s focus now on falls and what you can do to prevent falls:
Falls can be prevented. These are some simple things you can do to keep yourself from falling.
Talk to Your Doctor
Ask your doctor or healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling and talk with them about specific things you can do.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if any might make you dizzy or sleepy. This should include prescription medicines and over-the counter medicines.
Do Strength and Balance Exercises
Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance. Tai Chi is a good example of this kind of exercise.
Have Your Eyes Checked
Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed.
If you have bifocal or progressive lenses, you may want to get a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for outdoor activities, such as walking. Sometimes these types of lenses can make things seem closer or farther away than they really are.
Make Your Home Safer
Get rid of things you could trip over.
Add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
Put railings on both sides of stairs.
Make sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs. And keep a night light lite in your bathroom.
In closing, let’s keep each other safe by learning ways to prevent injuries.
While most women experience symptoms of menopause between the ages of 45-55, some of us start to experience it earlier – sometimes even in our late 30s. If you’re within that age range and haven’t experienced menopause yet, there’s a good chance you’re at least thinking about it and how it will affect your life.
Menopause affects the amount of estrogen your ovaries produce. After you go through it, your body will produce very little estrogen. This not only causes certain things to happen during menopause itself, but it can increase your risk for specific health problems and conditions later in life. It also marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Of course, menopause is also a sign of aging. As we get older, our risk also increases for potential health problems. So, what sort of side effects can you expect during menopause and beyond? What can you do to treat some of these issues? Let’s take a look at some of the most common ailments associated with menopause and how they can affect you:
Because menopause causes hormonal changes within your body, it can make you more susceptible to yeast infections. Your body naturally produces a healthy yeast, but when hormonal changes occur, the vagina might start to produce too much of this yeast, which can cause a variety of complications. The common symptoms of a yeast infection include:
Thick discharge from the vagina
A white coating around the vagina
The irritation and burning sensation caused by a yeast infection can often make it easy to confuse with a UTI. But there are a few major differences between a UTI and a yeast infection. UTIs are caused when bacteria from the genital or anal areas enter the urethra. They can cause pain or a burning sensation when you urinate. Generally, UTIs have nothing to do with menopause.
A yeast infection can usually be treated with an antifungal medication. If it’s mild, an over-the-counter topical medication should help to clear it up. If your symptoms are more severe, you may need to get a prescription from your doctor for an antifungal solution.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Menopausal women are 2.9 times more likely to experience symptoms of GERD than others. GERD affects the muscle between your esophagus and your stomach and often causes symptoms like heartburn or indigestion.
GERD occurs when the contents of your stomach return up to the esophagus through reflux. In menopausal women, the imbalance and shift of hormones can create problems with your digestive system. This often leads to bloating. The change in hormones can also relax the esophageal sphincter, which can cause acid reflux and symptoms of GERD.
If you do experience GERD as you’re dealing with menopause, talk to your doctor about different ways to ease the discomfort. For many people, GERD can be managed with diet and lifestyle changes. Eating smaller meals more frequently, avoiding alcohol, and reducing pressure on your stomach can make the symptoms of GERD feel less overwhelming and uncomfortable.
Keep in mind that having reflux once in a while isn’t abnormal. But, if the symptoms start to feel constant and are causing a lot of discomfort, it’s important to talk with your doctor about ways to find relief.
Other Symptoms and Health Risks of Menopause
Some women experience more intense symptoms than others as they go through menopause. There are plenty of stereotypes about hot flashes and mood changes during this time in a woman’s life, and while there is some truth to that, the symptoms are often no laughing matter to those of us experiencing them. Some additional common symptoms of menopause include:
Changes in emotions
Irregular menstrual cycle
Even after menopause, the changes in your body combined with your age can put you at a greater risk for conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, and stroke. So, it’s important to take care of both your mind and body as you start to experience the first signs and symptoms of menopause. Boosting your healththrough diet and lifestyle changes can make a big difference in how you feel throughout this major shift in your life.
It’s also important to develop a close relationship with your doctor as you go through menopause. Having a doctor you can trust and one you know will listen to your concerns can make going through this change easier and more comforting. If you’re uncomfortable or nervous about sharing your symptoms, you can work with a reputable online doctor when it comes to asking common questions or looking for advice.
The best thing to keep in mind is that every woman experiences menopause differently. If you have questions, concerns, or you just need some support, help is available – and you don’t have to go through this experience alone.
Author Bio: Brooke Faulkner is a mother of two and animal lover from Portland, Oregon.
I’m a bit perplexed. Could you please tell me what causes vaginal dryness? Thank you.
Estrogen keeps the lining of the vagina healthy, thick and elastic. At menopause, there is a drop in estrogen levels which reduces the amount of moisture. This drop in estrogen also makes the vagina thinner and less elastic which caused vaginal atrophy.
It’s not only menopause which causes estrogen levels to drop. It can also drop from childbirth, breastfeeding, radiation or chemotherapy treatments, the surgical removal of the ovaries, and certain anti-estrogen medication that treat endometriosis or uterine fibroids.
Other causes of vaginal dryness include: douching, allergy and cold medications, Sjögren’s syndrome and lack of enough foreplay before sexual intercourse.
Vaginal dryness can be extremely uncomfortable and can lead to itching, burning and painful intercourse. This discomfort may warrant a call to your doctor or gynecologist.
Thank you for writing to Red Hot Mamas. I hope this information is of some help to you.
“Friendship is always a sweet responsibility; never an opportunity “
– Kahlil Gibran
Dear Red Hot Mamas,
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As an organization, Red Hot Mamas would like to promote more of you to learn more about mental health concerns and if necessary get help for them. We recognize the importance of acknowledging how widespread mental disorders are. By doing this it might help pave the way for many of us to obtain better care.
Here are some interesting facts:
18% of US adults – some 40 million people- have anxiety disorders, the most prevalent mental illness
It’s 2 to 4 times as likely that offspring of depressant parents will develop depression
50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. Three quarters of them begin by age 24
Depression’s rank among the most common causes of disability in the US. The condition is more prevalent in women
16 million US adults have experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year
1 in 25 US adults have a serious mental illness that limits or interferes with major life activities
*(reference sources: Anxiety and Depression Assn of America; Nat’l Institute of Mental Health; World Economic Forum; Nat’l Alliance of Mental Illness)
As women, we tend to help others first and take care of ourselves last. However, getting proper care can make an invaluable impact if you are struggling with a mental health condition. It may be a good idea to apply the same concept that flight attendants tell you to do which is to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.
So some red hot things you that might consider doing which could help you if you are dealing with a mental health issue are:
Reach out to family members or friends and talk about what you are feeling with them
Find a mental healthcare professional that has the skills to help you. Interview this person to make sure he/she is qualified and is non-judgmental about your concerns
If you need to wait a long time for an appointment, look into other resources like your primary care doctor, nurse practitioner, mental health hotlines, or even crisis centers
Build a support network and make sure you can talk to someone by telephone and people you know that will make themselves available for you if necessary
I would encourage you to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day. But first, discuss the type of exercise you are planning to do with your health care provider. Workouts can strengthen both your body and mind. Aerobic exercise, in particular, can help to improve your mood and lower your stress levels by releasing endorphins. But whatever, form of exercise you do, it can be a powerful tool for improving your mental health. first, discuss what your exercise regimen with your health care provider. Aerobic exercise, in particular, can help to improve your mood and lower your stress levels by releasing endorphins. But whatever, form of exercise you do, it can be a powerful tool for improving your mental health.
In closing, focus on following healthy aspects in your daily lives like:
Getting at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep
Eating a well- balanced diet
Learning how to manage your stress
And, making time to take care of yourself every day
Even small changes can have a positive impact on your life.
Written by Dr. Borvana Nikolova – Guest Contributor
Tooth grinding is one of the most under diagnosed problems in dentistry, affecting 80% of people.
It occurs when involuntary twitches in the tiny muscles that control your jaw cause your top and bottom teeth to rub against each other.
More women grind their teeth than men, and it can lead to chipped teeth, as well as enamel wear that can make your teeth more susceptible to sensitivity and cavities.
However, the most common symptom associated with tooth grinding is tension headaches. If you regularly wake up with a headache, then it is likely that tooth grinding is the cause of this (most tooth grinding occurs at night when you are asleep).
To help you prevent future headaches, enamel wear, and to make your teeth more resilient to cavities, here are five ways to prevent tooth grinding.
This is because magnesium can help relax the tiny muscles in the jaw, the spasms of which are what cause you to grind your teeth.
Magnesium’s ability to increase your control of fast twitch muscles has also seen it be used in treatments for Parkinson’s disease.
Taking magnesium supplements can be a particularly effective means of reducing tooth grinding in women. This is due to the fact that natural levels of magnesium in the body can decrease during menstruation.
Cut down on stimulating activity before bed
One of the biggest contributors to people grinding their teeth is stress.
Although reducing and managing one’s stress is a very personal endeavour, there are some “easy wins” when it comes to minimizing the physiological manifestations of stress, one of which is tooth grinding.
These “easy wins” involve cutting down on behaviours that stimulate the nervous system such as consuming caffeine and alcohol, as well as exercising vigorously.
While it is unreasonable and, in the case of exercise, even unhealthy to cut out these habits altogether, you should try and avoid them within two hours of going to bed.
If you suspect that you grind your teeth at night then reducing such activities before bed may well help to reduce this.
Dehydration can increase your propensity to grind your teeth due to the extra physiological stress that it puts on your body.
Therefore drinking more water than you usually do can help reduce tooth grinding.
As you are unable to take on water while you sleep, dehydration can play a particularly significant role in tooth grinding during the night time.
Therefore you should aim to drink at least one pint of water during the final hour before you go to sleep. Ideally you want to be drinking another pint of water in the hour before that.
Try to drink more water if you have been drinking alcohol or have done some vigorous exercise during the day.
Consider orthodontic treatments
This may seem like an extreme measure to take against tooth grinding, but if you are certain that grinding your teeth is significantly affecting your well being, then it may be worth getting orthodontic treatment to reduce the amount you grind.
Straightening your teeth can reduce tooth grinding because tooth grinding occurs when your mouth is trying to find a comfortable “resting” bite.
If your teeth are misaligned (as is the case with most people) you will never be able to find a “resting” bite that is perfectly comfortable for all your teeth.
You make up for this continuous discomfort by constantly adjusting your bite, grinding your teeth against each other as you do so.
Therefore straightening your teeth will help you achieve a more comfortable “resting” bite, and reduce your involuntary urge to grind your teeth.
Get a specialised “tooth grinding appliance” to wear at night
This is, by a distance, the most effective way to stop you from grinding your teeth.
If you know that you grind your teeth, I would highly recommend you invest in one of these.
A “tooth grinding appliance” is a thin acrylic covering for your teeth that to wear at night.
It is similar to a mouth guard that you wear for contact sports but it is thinner (and therefore more comfortable) and made out of acrylic rather than rubber.
The appliance works in two ways.
Firstly it adjusts your bite to its most comfortable “resting” position. This will greatly reduce the urge to grind your teeth.
Additionally, the appliance acts as a shock absorber to any residual grinding. This means that the damage done to your teeth, and the strain to your jaw muscles (which causes headaches) due to tooth grinding will be minimised.
These appliances can be custom made by most dentists, and should feel comfortable to wear in bed after a few nights of getting used to it.
It could free you of any future morning headaches.
Dr Boryana Nikolova is the owner and Principal Dentist of 92 Dental, a dental practice in London, England. She has a passion for preventative dentistry and wants to put dentistry on the same footing as other forms of medicine where problems are mitigated by lifestyle choices and good habits rather than invasive procedures.