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woman's siloTo your health


Welcome to our inaugural Women’s Health special section, in which we asked area health care professionals to write about the issues they believe have the most impact when it comes to the fairer sex.


On the following pages, you’ll find short, to-the-point advice and information on everything from dental care during pregnancy to facts about fibroids.


Here’s to your health in 2011 in beyond!


Treating sensitive teeth


The Academy of General Dentistry estimates that at least 40 million Americans have experienced sensitive teeth. The symptoms are believed to occur when the tooth’s dentin, which is filled with microscopic canals that open to the nerves, is exposed. When the protective enamel covering is gone, cold air or other stimuli travel through these canals, stimulating the nerves and causing pain.


Enamel loss, or potential tooth sensitivity, has several causes. Cavities and fractures can open a hole in the enamel, exposing the dentin. Excessive tooth brushing also can erode enamel, as can certain high-acid foods, some soft drinks, and medications. Other factors that lead to enamel loss include tooth exposure to stomach acids, gum disease, poor oral hygiene, tooth grinding and teeth bleaching.


Not everyone with worn enamel experiences tooth pain, however. Researchers report that people with tooth sensitivity also tend to have wider-than-normal dentin tubules, as well as a greater number of canals per area of tooth.


One of the best home treatments for tooth sensitivity is to use a desensitizing toothpaste, which blocks the canals and prevents nerve irritation. For optimal results, place a small amount on a cotton swab and dab the toothpaste onto the surface of the tooth before going to bed. Repeat the process after eating breakfast, brushing and flossing. The idea is to leave the toothpaste on the tooth’s surface for as long as possible.


The Academy of General Dentistry also recommends drinking tea to combat sensitive teeth. The tannic acid in tea clogs dentin canals, blocking the stimulus from reaching the nerves.


If these at-home remedies don’t work or if you experience bleeding or severe pain, then it’s best to see a dental professional. These symptoms could indicate a sign of another problem that should be addressed. Dentists have other resources that can be used to treat sensitive teeth  as well, like prescription toothpaste, fluoride gel, varnish and laser treatment.


If the cause of the tooth sensitivity is confirmed as periodontal disease, then it’s essential to see a periodontist. Periodontal surgery often can be performed to build up gum tissue. In severe cases or when the pain doesn’t respond to treatment, a root canal might be necessary.


Dr. Mandy Ghaffarpour of Studio G Aesthetic & Family Dentistry in Chapel Hill is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Operative Dentistry at UNC’s School of Dentistry. To learn more, call (919) 942-7163 or visit




 Lift weights like a man, stay lean like a woman



What if the secret to your discontent with your appearance is that you’ve been lied to? What if the people who were interested in taking your money were interested in doing so repeatedly? What kind of fitness program would they design? How about one that wouldn’t work?


That’s exactly what occurs in many gyms today. Women are steered toward classes with little pink handheld weights and are told to feel the burn. The result? Millions of dissatisfied women.


Here’s the quickest, safest, easiest way to get the shape you want — a feminine shape. Try six to 12 weeks of this type of training on your own, and see and feel the difference for yourself.


Don’t be afraid to lift heavy. There is no truth to the idea that you will get big like a man if you lift weights. We as women are not made to get big — it’s a hormonal thing. We have only 10 percent of the testosterone that gives a man his muscularity.


Choose multi-joint exercises. These exercises, like squats, push-ups, pull-ups and lunges, use several muscle groups at one time. They burn more calories because they require more energy.


Cut back on the reps. Women’s training programs typically prescribe a high number of reps in order to tone, but high reps actually can make a woman’s muscles larger, not smaller and tighter. This is because women have more endurance-based muscle fibers than strength-based ones. To produce a harder, stronger, tighter muscle, a woman must focus on training strength-based muscle fibers. This is achieved through low reps and heavier weights.


Also, it’s time to cut back on the cardio. You don’t need hour-long cardio sessions to see results. This type of training makes your body more efficient at burning fat, which makes it burn less over time. To burn fat, engage in activities that require a lot of energy. So instead of taking an aerobics class at your local gym, try 20 minutes of interval training — alternating challenging work with easier work.


Betsy Collie is owner of Rapid Results Fitness in Durham. For another free special report, “The Top 5 Lies About Weight Loss,” visit




Women and heart health: What you should know


Many women are unaware that heart disease is a more significant health threat to them than breast cancer. Educating women on their risk factors and ways to make lifestyle modifications can help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.


Unfortunately, there are some risk factors that cannot be modified, including age and a family history of premature cardiac disease.


Age: The chance of developing cardiovascular disease increases as women get older. This increased risk can be related to menopause or modifiable risks such as hypertension, the latter of which can cause structural changes in the heart and increase cardiac risk. Appropriate treatment of blood pressure can lessen this risk.


Family history: In this case, family history is defined as a parent or sibling who has had a heart attack before age 50 in a male and before age 60 in a female. A woman cannot change her genetics but should be aggressive in addressing all other risk factors.


Making changes

Risk factors for heart disease that can be changed include:


• Smoking. Women who smoke have a higher death risk from cardiovascular disease. A woman who smokes can experience her first heart attack as much as 19 years earlier than a nonsmoker.


• High blood pressure. Blood pressure in women increases after age 50 and as they go through menopause. If a woman has one parent with a history of hypertension, then her risk for developing significant hypertension is 50 percent greater than a woman with no family history. Lifestyle modifications such as eating a low-salt diet and getting exercise will help keep blood pressure in a more normal range. If a woman smokes, then quitting also will help.


• High cholesterol and triglycerides. Women should be sure to get regular cholesterol screenings and maintain a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.


• Lack of exercise. Studies have found that a sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. The Physical Guidelines for Americans state that two-and-a-half hours — or 150 minutes — of regular moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week, such as brisk walking, tennis, dancing, or house and yard work, can reduce the risk for heart disease.


• Excess pounds and/or a poor diet. Women should consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich foods, and cereals low in saturated and trans fats. The risk for heart disease is particularly high in women who have excess abdominal fat.


• Diabetes. About 68 percent of people who have diabetes die from some form of heart disease or stroke. Diabetic women have a risk that’s five to seven times higher than nondiabetic women for cardiovascular disease.


• Stress. Women should adopt healthy ways of dealing with stress. For example, they should take breaks from work and home duties, read books, take daily walks, and avoid negative people.


In addition to traditional risk factors, depression and isolation also are risk factors for women. It’s important to talk with a health care professional about these risks in order to take lifesaving preventive measures.


Dr. Paula Miller is part of UNC Health Care’s Women’s Heart Program. To learn more about reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease, call toll-free (866) 862-4327 or visit




Tips for a healthy recovery from plastic surgery


The recovery process following plastic surgery differs from patient to patient, particularly when it comes to the type and number of procedures performed.


Surgery aside, it’s important to consider the physical and emotional issues that can occur during recovery. As your surgeon will tell you, it’s essential not to rush the recovery process. Allowing your body to heal properly will lead to more rewarding results.


Here are some tips for a healthy, satisfying recovery.


  1. Be prepared. Fill prescriptions ahead of time, prepare ice packs to help reduce swelling and review pre-operative instructions to make sure you understand them.
  2. Plan recovery time. A full recovery can range from a few days to a few weeks. Keep in mind how surgery will affect your job and personal obligations.
  3. Be realistic. Almost all cosmetic surgery procedures involve bruising and swelling. Full results won’t reveal themselves for a few weeks or longer, so don’t worry. Let the natural healing process take place.
  4. Follow instructions. Whether it’s taking prescribed medication or wearing a compression garment, your surgeon can provide the best advice for a quick, safe recovery.
  5. Elevate. If you’ve had surgery to the head or upper body such as a breast augmentation or eyelid surgery, then keep the area elevated for several days. Doing so will help reduce swelling and can increase the recovery process without compromising results.
  6. Consult. Ask your physician before taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications, which can interfere with prescriptions given by your surgeon. Also check which over-the-counter and prescription medicines you should avoid during recovery.
  7. Stop smoking. If you smoke, then stop for at least six weeks prior to surgery and anticipate not smoking during the recovery process. Smoking greatly increases the risk for complications.
  8. Stay on track. Be sure to attend all post-operative appointments.


Dr. Glenn M. Davis is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. To learn more, call (919) 785-1120 or visit



Why oral care is essential during pregnancy


Attention to oral health care issues is obviously important for all individuals but can be particularly critical for women during pregnancy.


Hormonal shifts occur over this nine-month span, often resulting in changes within the oral environment. It’s important for a pregnant woman to maintain optimum health so that the health of the developing child is never compromised, so regular maintenance visits to the dentist should be continued every four to six months.


Some expectant mothers have increased inflammation of the gum tissue during pregnancy, so attention to cleanliness and detail is important here as well. If dental treatment is needed that will require anesthetics or restorative care of the teeth, then a letter from the patient’s obstetrician regarding the safety and timing of the procedure must be obtained.


A toothache can cause stress on the body, and consequently stress the developing child. For this reason, it’s essential to remedy the problem at hand so that everyone remains healthy and free from duress.


Remember that the maintenance of good oral health for mom is directly related to baby’s health.


C. Ashley Mann DDS is a dentist based in Cary. To learn more, call (919) 462-9338 or visit