health for your
Good health starts with teeth
By Dr. Joseph Banker
BRUSHING YOUR TEETH and
;ossing on a regular basis is about
so much more than just white
teeth and fresh breath. Recent
research suggests that poor oral
health can signi;cantly affect one’s
overall health, which may cause
systemic problems such as heart
disease, respiratory infections and even
strokes. It’s imperative to be aware of
any changes happening within your oral
cavity, as minor transformations can be
a sign of major bodily challenges.
In;amed gums can be indicative
of in;ammation in the blood vessels,
making it dif;cult for blood to ;ow
properly. The restriction of blood ;ow
increases plaque buildup in arteries
and can cause a host of problems in
the body. Discolored gums can be a sign of HIV
infection, diabetes, vitamin de;ciency or even cancer.
Individuals with preexisting health conditions should
also be aware of the importance of oral health, as they
are more prone to gum disease.
The good news is that it is now easier than ever to
regain and maintain oral health. There are numerous
products on the market that are ideal for maintaining
healthy teeth and gums. These items range from
powered toothbrushes and ;ossing aids to antibacte-
rial rinses and tongue scrapers.
Joseph Banker, DMD, Creative Dental Care
www.creativedentalcare.com), has practiced
dentistry for 15 years.
DESPITE THE FACT that most
American adults (93 percent) say
it’s important for neighbors to look
out for each other’s safety, a survey
conducted by Harris Interactive on
behalf of WhitePages found that
only 40 percent of Americans
know their neighbors’ first names
and only 24 percent know their
To help resolve this, the
National Association of Town
Watch, a nonprofit, crime prevention organization that works in
cooperation with thousands of
crime watch groups and law
enforcement agencies throughout
the country, introduced National
Night Out (NNO), “America’s
Night Out Against Crime,” to encourage neighbors to get to know
each other better.
PERTUSSIS IS A common disease in the United
States, with frequent outbreaks and periodic epidemics every three to five years. It is also called
whooping cough because of the “whooping”
sound people often make while gasping for air
after a coughing fit.
Found only in humans, this highly contagious
bacterial disease is spread from person to person,
usually by coughing or sneezing while in close
contact with others.
In rare cases, pertussis can be fatal. Before
routine child vaccination became widespread in
the 1940s, pertussis caused thousands of fatalities
each year in the U.S.
It starts off with cold-like symptoms, including:
• Runny nose
• Low-grade fever
• Mild, occasional cough
As the disease progresses, the traditional
symptoms of pertussis appear, including:
• Fits of many rapid coughs followed by
a high-pitched “whoop”
• Exhaustion following coughing fits
In infants, the cough can be minimal or not
even there. Infants may have another symptom
known as apnea—a pause in the child’s breathing
pattern. Pertussis is most dangerous for babies, and
more than half of infants younger than one year of
age who get the disease must be hospitalized.
An adult booster shot for pertussis—called
Tdap for tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis—has been available since 2005. Fewer than one
in 10 adults have received the shot; most don’t
even know they need it, learning about the booster
only when they see a doctor for a tetanus shot.
In 2010 California had a pertussis epidemic
with more than 9,000 cases, including 10 deaths.
Washington state just declared an epidemic in
April, with the worst outbreak seen there in
decades. State officials are seeking help from federal disease experts and are urging residents to get
vaccinated amid worry that cases of the highly contagious disease are likely to spike much higher—
perhaps as many as 3,000 cases by the end of 2012.
Outbreaks are also being monitored in counties in California, Florida, Iowa, Montana, Texas,
Utah and Wisconsin.
For more information, go to
Tdap vaccinations are available
at all Costco pharmacies.
The first National Night Out
was held in 1984, with participation growing steadily. The 28th
annual National Night Out in
August 2011 involved 37 million
people in 15,110 communities in
all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases
National Night Out 2012 will
culminate on Tuesday, August 7,
with more than 15,500 communities expected to take part.
While the traditional “lights
on” and front porch vigils remain
a part of NNO, activities have
expanded over the years to include
block parties, cookouts, parades,
visits from police, festivals, neighborhood walks, safety fairs, contests, rallies and meetings.
For information on how to
connect with your neighbors on
the 29th annual NNO, visit www.