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October 13, 2011

From Kings to Kids, Germs Aren’t Picky

periodontal disease

730 years ago, the famous Egyptian king, Ramses II, was a powerful leader but an extremely poor example of oral health.  Upon investigation, scientists postulate that the king died from heart disease that sprung directly from his rampant gum disease. His teeth can still be examined today, held in place by strong tartar buildup that holds them in like concrete. He did not brush and floss like he should have, which allowed plaque to build and harden into tartar. This resulted in an infection in his gums, or periodontal disease.

Did you know those germs in your mouth were so powerful?  It’s kind of scary, but it’s true. Our mouths are full of bacteria — up to 600 different kinds. The really dangerous strand is Streptococci mutans, which causes cavities. Unlike many body parts, teeth don’t shed an outer layer. It’s up to you to control oral bacteria and keep it from getting out of control, which could lead to dental problems and serious overall health issues. 

The germs that cause cavities do not discriminate based on your occupation or age –  you might be a king, an executive, or an elementary school student; they’ll overtake your mouth and destroy good oral health if you let them.  While cavities can seem rather innocuous, they are more serious than you might think. Letting cavities grow and harmful bacteria to flourish can allow infection to reach the brain.  In fact, in 2007, a 12-year-old boy in Maryland died from a tooth infection, which entered his bloodstream and eventually reached his brain. S. mutans  also cause bad breath and, even worse, gum disease. Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes complications, and the list goes on. Look at Ramses II.  Gum disease can be fatal.

To reduce the potential for cavities and gum disease, you have to brush, floss, and attend regularly scheduled checkups and cleanings.   Not only will this approach give you fresh breath and save your teeth, it might just save your life.

Set an appointment with Dr. Peter Pate in the Buckhead community.  Call 404-266-9424, or contact us online to schedule your visit. Located in Buckhead, our Atlanta dental office serves many local families from all around the metropolitan area.

September 20, 2011

The Toothbrush: Small Tool with a Big Impact

Did you know that some form of the toothbrush has been around for nearly 5,000 years?  You might not even recognize these ancient brushes, as the bristles were made of unique materials such as hog’s hair, twigs and bamboo. The first modern-looking toothbrush was invented in 1948 in China. Over the average lifetime, this little invention gets a lot of attention from us. We spend about 38.5 days brushing our teeth! With this in mind, Dr. Pate and his team would like to share some tips with you, whether you’re choosing a new toothbrush or altering your brushing technique.

Regardless of your preference for manual, powered, pink, or blue (the most popular color), the key is to choose a soft bristle brush that fits comfortably in all areas of your mouth. The ADA recommends disposing of your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if the bristles are worn. After all, your brush won’t clean your teeth properly with flattened or bent bristles. Children typically will need to replace their toothbrushes more frequently.

Toothbrushes usually have about 2,000 bristles. For the best clean, hold the brush at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line while using short gentle strokes to cover each surface of the tooth. Dr. Pate suggests brushing for at least two minutes for an effective cleaning. Don’t forget your tongue! Giving it a scrub down will help to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

There has long been a vital connection between a healthy body and a healthy mouth. It’s a good idea to toss your toothbrush after a bacterial infection such as strep throat. Always allow your brush to air dry after each use, and keep it separate from other people’s toothbrushes. Whether you have natural teeth or dentures, bacteria likes to lurk in the mouth. NEVER use someone else’s toothbrush!

Dr. Peter Pate and his team are always here to answer questions or offer tips for a healthy smile. To schedule your family’s dental cleanings, please call our Atlanta dentist office, Dentistry in Buckhead, at 404-226-9424.