Love Your Body With Doc Appointments
Good morning gorgeous! So a few weeks ago I had a dentist appointment and I was absolutely dreading it. I had major anxiety before about whether I’d have cavities and if they were going to tell me I needed to floss more 🙈 When I got there, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined and I didn’t even have cavities!
As I was sitting in the waiting room though, I was thinking about how going to the doctor regularly isn’t easy for a lot of women. Whether you’re nervous, feel like you’re too busy with work or family, don’t have easy access to a doc, or it just slips your mind with everything else going on, it’s not always at the top of the list…but it should be. Checking in with your doctors is an essential form of self-care and you deserve to take that time for you…just like with your workouts and your meal prep!
Karena and I checked in with a top dentist, dermatologist, and gynecologist to answer what we all need to know about regular checkups. The doctors are in!
~ Dentist ~
Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty, DMD, spokesperson for the American Dental Association
How often should we get checkups with the dentist?
When your teeth and gums are healthy, we recommend getting cleanings twice a year. Depending on any health conditions, like if you have diabetes or if you’re pregnant, your dentist may recommend you go more frequently.
Do you see a lot of women who skip these regular visits?
Yes! I think especially when a woman has small children or is really busy in her career, her own health can be put by the wayside. We should make the time to take care of ourselves because prevention is so much better than letting your teeth go and that’s when you’re going to have bigger issues. Oral health is so important to your overall health. Your teeth are the gateway to the rest of your body.
We should make it a priority to take care of ourselves because when you take care of yourself you can be better in every other aspect of your life and your teeth are a part of that.
What do you look for in a regular cleaning?
First, we look for cavities and cracks in your teeth so we can catch anything before it becomes a major issue. We also check for gum disease. There is a lot of research that gum disease can cause heart health issues and put you at higher risk for oral cancer and diabetes. We also check your blood pressure, oral tissues, cheek, and tongue to make sure everything is healthy.
Real talk…the dentist can be scary. What if I’m afraid?
I see fears a lot. A lot of people had a bad experience at the dentist when they were a kid. But with the technology today, dentistry is so much more comfortable and pain-free! There’s nothing to be scared of!
What can women do every day to keep their teeth healthy?
The most important things are to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes, floss once a day, and have a balanced, healthy diet. Sports drinks, sodas, and sugary foods are notorious for causing cavities and weakening the enamel in your teeth. Make sure you’re having lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and foods high in fiber. These foods are great for your overall health and your teeth.
~ Gynecologist ~
Dr. Kate White, assistant professor of OB/GYN at Boston University/Boston Medical Center
How often should we see the gynecologist?
Once a year, even if you don’t feel like there’s anything wrong. This visit is a chance for screening tests and to talk with your doctor.
Going to the gyno can be uncomfortable…
I get that. The thing is you don’t actually need a pelvic exam every year, which is a relatively new idea. Because testing has gotten so much better for both cervical cancer and STIs, the old teaching that you have to get a pap smear at every gynecologist visit isn’t really true anymore. Now you should get one every three years for a routine check. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns or questions.
And a speculum exam should not hurt. It’s not the most comfortable thing you want to do in your day, but there shouldn’t be any true pain with the exam. If you’ve had a rough time with these exams in the past, ask the clinician what she can do to make it more comfortable for you.
What else will happen at a yearly exam?
Your doctor will check your blood pressure, your height and weight, and other routine tests. The other thing that’s really important is the conversation with your doctor. You may not come in with any complaints or concerns but once a doctor starts chatting with you, it could spark something. And don’t be embarrassed to ask us anything. We’ve seen and heard it all.
I consider an annual checkup an essential part of self-care. Think of it this way, you are sitting in a room for a half hour with a person whose sole purpose is to make sure YOU are doing OK.
Any other tips for going to the gynecologist?
It is really common for people to save up questions or issues or concerns for this checkup and then forget everything. Use the notes app in your phone to keep track of all your questions as they come up in life. This is what I do for my own healthcare.
Also if you’re seeing a new doctor for the first time, don’t be afraid to have a consult like you would with a new hairdresser. You can say at the first visit that you’re not comfortable with an exam and you’d prefer just to talk first. That’s totally fine and we encourage that. We want to make this less intimating for you. We want copartner with you to make sure you come see us!
~ Dermatologist ~
How often should we get a checkup with the dermatologist?
Dr. Nazarian: Most dermatologists recommend an annual skin exam for nearly everyone. If you have a strong personal history or family history of skin cancer, or you had high-risk exposure and have lots of sun damage, your dermatologist might recommend a twice-annual skin check.
What types of things are you looking for during an annual exam?
Dr. Wu: When patients come in for a full body skin exam, I carefully examine them from head to toe. I’m looking for anything that is dark and/or irregular, which can be a sign of skin cancer or pre-cancer. I also look for any signs of infection or other skin conditions or growths, especially on the back, which is hard for most of us to see!
What are some common misconceptions or fears about skin checks that you want to clear up right now?
Dr. Nazarian: That it’ll take a long time and be super painful. Skin checks are generally about 20-30 minutes and typically painless! If the dermatologist needs to test or biopsy a mole, it’s a tiny injection for numbing, which makes the procedure completely painless and comfortable.
What are your best tips for keeping your skin safe and healthy?
Dr. Wu: Get to know your skin, and be on the lookout for any new moles or growths. This is especially important if you have had bad sunburns, ever visited a tanning bed, or have a family history of skin cancer. Check your skin in the shower once a month (maybe when you do your breast self-exam). If you notice anything itching, bleeding, or getting darker, be sure to show your doctor…and not Dr. Google! And eat plenty of protein and vitamin C-rich foods. These are essential for growing healthy collagen for soft, glowing skin as well as strong hair and nails.