August 31, 2011

Immunization Awareness

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued its annual update of vaccination guidelines. The new recommendations emphasize the importance of vaccinating children and teens to protect against serious illnesses, such as influenza, pneumonia, and meningitis, as well as other deadly diseases.

The recommendations for 2011 are very similar to those from 2010, but the release of the revised schedule reminds parents to ensure that their children’s immunizations are up to date. Dr. Michael Brady, the chairman of the AAP infectious disease committee, points out that “immunizations have been the most effective medical preventive measure ever developed, but some people who live in the United States right now don’t appreciate how tremendously protected they’ve been because of vaccines. There are still children around the world dying of measles and polio. The vaccination schedules are designed to get vaccines to the child before they are at the greatest risk.”

The updated schedule recommends that all children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years get an annual flu shot. Additionally, children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years who are being vaccinated for the first time, as well as those who have had only one dose of a previous flu vaccine, need two doses of the seasonal flu vaccine.

The AAP recommends the following:

  • Children and teens should receive the recommended whooping cough vaccines.
  • Children ages 7 to 10 years who have not been previously vaccinated against the disease need a single does of the tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and Tdap vaccines.
  • Teens from 13 to 18 years who never received the Tdap should get the vaccine as well as a Td booster every 10 years.
  • All girls should receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, which can be given between the ages of 9 and 18 years in a three-dose series.
  • Children under the age of 5 should get the haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) vaccine to prevent the bacterial disease.
  • Routine childhood vaccines, including those for the rotavirus, polio virus, MMR, and varicella, should be received at the suggested ages.

Dr. Peter Pate, a family dentist in Atlanta, Georgia, strives to help his patients lead healthy lives. For information about how to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy to prevent the onset of serious oral and overall health conditions, call Dentistry in Buckhead at (404) 266-9424.

August 22, 2011

The Tooth Fairy!

Today is National Tooth Fairy Day! If you have ever known a young child who has lost a tooth, you know how important it is to be visited by this dental nymph. What is the origin of this fantasy figure?

The history of the tooth fairy, as told by some, is actually a rather dark tale.  In the Middle Ages, witches were on the lookout for items that could be used to work their black magic. They thought items held especially close to someone – like hair, clothing, and even teeth – were prime ingredients for potions and spells. Therefore, baby teeth were quickly discarded either by fire or buried out of sight.

In less ominous traditions, parents took their children’s teeth and buried them in the garden in order to “grow” strong, healthy adult teeth in their place. This tradition was adapted over time and some people buried the teeth in flower pots inside the home.  Today, of course, the location has moved to the pillow where it is “buried” for the night until a fairy comes to retrieve it, leaving a coin, toy, or treat for the child to discover upon waking

Children in Cambodia toss their lower teeth on the roof and bury their upper teeth in the ground. They hope that the new teeth will grow towards the old teeth and be straight. In Turkey, parents bury their children’s teeth in a location that might benefit the child’s future, such as a college campus garden or at a hospital.  In Kyrgyzstan, a child will hide his tooth in a piece of bread and give it to an animal with desirable teeth.  In other countries, the baby teeth are regarded as mementos or small treasures. Such is the case in Chile, where the lost tooth is made into a charm and set in precious metal to be used as a necklace or an earring.

Although children eventually lose these “baby” teeth, it is still important to keep them healthy and clean. One of the best ways to instill healthy oral habits for your child is to practice brushing and flossing with them at an early age. Call Dentistry in Buckhead today if you live in the Atlanta area and would like a family dentist who understands parenting firsthand.  As a family man and father, Dr. Peter Pate knows that you want the best for your kids, and he’ll help you by providing excellent dental care in an inviting, comforting atmosphere. Call 404-266-9424 and schedule your family’s checkups today.

August 21, 2011

Technology – Friend to Your Teeth!

In general dentistry, technological advances have become a major part of prevention. The DIAGNOdent Laser Cavity detector is a laser we use to detect the tiniest, hidden bits of decay and demineralization in your teeth. Previously undetectable areas and amounts of decay are now caught by this laser. It almost sounds too good to be true, right? Just how does this amazing technology work?

The DIAGNOdent is a small hand piece that Dr. Peter Pate will use to scan your teeth, gums, and entire oral cavity. Using a completely safe, high-powered light to illuminate your mouth, we will be able to easily identify abnormalities based on the way the light appears.

Scientists discovered that altered tooth substances and bacteria will give fluorescent feedback at certain wavelengths of light, while normal tissue and areas will appear a constant color throughout.

The DIAGNOdent operates at a wavelength of 655 nm. At this wavelength, clean teeth will have no fluorescence. The machine will display low scale readings.  If any tooth has decay and/or demineralization, it will show fluorescence and the display readings will be high.

The device is equipped with audio signals to point out areas of concern. This audio guide allows us to stay focused on you during your exam, rather than constantly watching the computer monitor.

The process will be very fast and completely comfortable for you. After your exam, you can feel confident about the health of your teeth without worrying about what problems might be lurking in the hard-to-see areas of your mouth.  This is just another perk of having regularly scheduled dental exams and cleanings.

Dr. Pate and his team will use the latest technology to help you attain the best possible oral health.  Just call Dentistry in Buckhead today at 404-266-9424.

August 8, 2011

Heart Health Linked to Dental Health

Research has linked gum disease to increased risk for heart attack, but more recent research also shows a link between plaque and endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart. The most common cause of endocarditis, in fact, is related to the same bacteria that cause cavities.

Streptococcus mutans, or S. mutans for short, is one of over 600 bacteria that call your mouth home. Some of the bacteria in your mouth are good, some bad. S. mutans is definitely one of the bad. This bacteria lives in the complex matrix of plaque, that sticky, stinky substance you try to brush and floss away. S. mutans can enter the bloodstream through a tear or cut in your gums.  This might be the result of brushing and floss too aggressively, or it may occur during a dental procedure. If your immune system does not destroy the bacteria, within seconds it can travel to the heart and colonize on the heart valves. This causes the heart valves and chambers to swell, and this is bacterial endocarditis – a potentially fatal condition.

If you are a heart patient, please, please, please tell your dentist before having any dental work performed. You may need antibiotics prior to your dental procedure.  Your cardiologist will make this decision based on the specifics of your situation, and should write your dental premedication prescription, if needed.

Researchers hope that a saliva test will be created to assess a patient’s risk for endocarditis. A certain protein, CNM, present in high levels in some people, allows the S. mutans bacteria to colonize in the heart. The more CNM a person has, the more prone he or she may be to endocarditis. A test that determines if a person is at increased risk would allow the dentist to administer a greater dose of antibiotics before treatment, thus making the body more adept at killing the S. mutans bacteria that enter the bloodstream.

You can reduce your risk every day with diligent brushing and flossing and the use of mouthwash. The less plaque you have in your mouth, the less risk you have of endocarditis from S. mutans bacteria.

Dr. Pate and his team stay on top of research like this so that we can take excellent care of you and your family. If it’s time for a checkup, call Dentistry in Buckhead today at 404-266-9424.

August 7, 2011

Smile Tips from a Star

Photo Credit: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

You’ve seen the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” right? If not, you’re seriously missing out. Nia Vardalos, the star and brains behind the movie, is hilarious. What you might not know, however, is that she is a probiotics enthusiast, which impacts how she takes care of herself and her daughter.

Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help keep your health in check. You probably know that probiotics are found naturally in yogurt.  Now there’s another easy source.  GUM® just released PerioBalance, a mint-flavored daily lozenge containing a blend of probiotics to help neutralize harmful bacteria surrounding your teeth and gums.

As a family dentist in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Peter Pate agrees with many of Nia’s tips for a healthier smile. Check them out:

  • Load up on calcium. Drinking milk builds strong bones (yes, your teeth are bones). A lack of calcium increases your risk of tooth decay and cavities.
  • Boost your Vitamin C intake. Citrus fruits and other foods that are high in Vitamin C help ward off infection. Eat more, and lessen your chances of developing gingivitis and gum disease.
  • Get your fill of fruits and veggies. The crispier your food, the better. Fruits and vegetables help to wipe bacteria off of your teeth, and chewing increases the production of bacteria-neutralizing saliva.
  • Stick with tea and water. Studies show that black tea can rid your mouth of the bacteria found in dental plaque. Water rinses away bacteria and food particles that can eventually stick to your teeth and become plaque at the gum line.
  • Avoid candy and soda. Sugar and acid are the enemies of your teeth. You don’t have to avoid these treats completely, but limit your intake as much as possible, and make sure to brush and floss thoroughly after you consume sugar-loaded foods and drinks.

Above all, Nia made a point of teaching her daughter how to brush and floss. “It’s all about prevention. Invest now, avoid health issues in the future,” Nia says.

Well said, Nia! Dr. Pate and his team at Dentistry in Buckhead provide dental care to patients of all ages in the greater Atlanta area. To schedule an appointment, call (404) 266-9424.

Content for this blog post found on EverydayHealth.com.