Is this Normal? Questions About Aging That You're Too Embarrassed to Ask
A. In the same way that roller-coasting hormone levels contribute to vaginal dryness, they can also lead to a decrease of salivary fluids in the mouth, explains Sally Cram, DDS, a periodontist in Washington, D.C. Antihistamines, decongestants, pain medications and antidepressants can make things worse. Cram says a lack of mineral-rich, teeth-strengthening saliva allows bacteria to proliferate, which causes halitosis, gum inflammation, periodontal disease and, in extreme cases, the loss of teeth. So keep flossing daily, brushing twice a day and getting a cleaning every year or so. Your dentist can also recommend oral moisturizers with artificial saliva.
Q. What happened to my face?
A. As we age, we can lose fat and tissue in our face, says Hirsch. "Patients will tell me that they think they look gaunt, even though they feel fine. But when we look at photos of them from when they were younger, we'll often notice a loss of volume in the temple," says Hirsch. She's lately been addressing the issue in-office with soft-tissue fillers. For a less-invasive solution, Hirsch suggests drugstore products that claim to "plump" the tissue around the eye area with hyaluronic acid.
Q. Why am I having trouble reaching my top shelves?
A. Starting around age 40, height declines by about half an inch per decade, says John Whyte, MD, chief medical expert at the Discovery Channel and the author of Is This Normal? The Essential Guide to Middle Age and Beyond. The disks get compressed with age, and the curve of the spine starts to bend. Whyte says that shrinkage is compounded by osteoporosis. Getting enough calcium, doing weight-bearing exercises, and even regular yoga have been shown to help forestall bone loss—and maybe help you keep a few inches.
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