National Women’s Health Week is sponsored by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. The goal is not to say that women’s health is more important than men’s health, but that it is different. By celebrating this week, the Office on Women’s Health hopes to empower women to make healthy choices in their lives and the lives of their families. There are many ways to take part in this event, and resources are available on the website. (2) As oral health-care professionals, perhaps we can think of ways to promote women’s health in our offices.
The infographic from the Office on Women’s Health (OWH) is filled with ideas (figure 1). In the dental office, we can take a complete health history, perform and oral cancer screening, and educate women about the link between HPV and oral cancer, puberty and pregnancy and oral health, and the role of a healthy lifestyle in oral and general health.
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The vision of the OWH is “All women and girls achieve the best possible HEALTH.” (1) Established in 1991, they educate the public and professionals, and advocate in the legislature for women’s issues. They work with numerous organizations and agencies. They have a fact sheet on oral health, last updated in 2010.
It is up to us to educate our female patients about oral and general health. See the following for a wealth of education resources.
- "Oral Health and Bone Disease" published by the NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center in 2012. It reviews skeletal bone density in relation to oral health, periodontal disease, the role of radiographs, and other resources.
- “What You Need To Know About Oral Cancer,” a free booklet from the National Cancer Institute
- “Gum Disease and Women” from the American Academy of Periodontology
- The National Maternal & Child Oral Health Resource Center is an extremely comprehensive resource with information on pregnancy, nutrition, fluoride, tobacco, and many other topics.
- “Women's Oral Health and Overall Health” from Colgate
- “Oral Health During Pregnancy and Early Childhood” from the California Dental Association Foundation contains guidelines for professions and materials for patients’ education.
- “Oral Health Care During Pregnancy and Through the Lifespan” is a committee opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Dental Association, and the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau. It was coordinated by the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center at Georgetown University and published in August 2013.
We know that regular oral health care is a key component to good oral and general health. Resources abound to help you educate your female patients, especially during National Women’s Health Week.
1. About us. Office on Women’s Health, US Department of Health and Human services website. http://www.womenshealth.gov/about-us/who-we-are/. Updated March 7, 2013. Accessed April 23, 2015.