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Do You Have Trouble Sleeping? Your Dentist Can Help!

If you’re not getting enough sleep despite your best efforts to live a healthy life, then it’s time to call your dentist.

Sleep apnea (or obstructive sleep apnea / OSA) and upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) is estimated to affect over 18 million Americans, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This common condition occurs when the airway is repeatedly blocked or severely restricted during sleep, causing reduced airflow, paused breathing, snoring, and more.

Because of this, people with sleep apnea do not get the rest they need to be refreshed and ready for the next day. Daytime fatigue and lack of sleep may be due to insomnia, but it can also be caused by irregular breathing patterns at night. And this is where your dentist can step in!

The link between your oral health and sleep apnea

There are many signs a dentist may see to determine whether your oral health plays a role in your sleep. Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a common sign. Other visual indications may include a smaller jaw or enlarged tongue. For patients with UARS gastric reflux can occur which causes acid from the stomach to come up and can start to dissolve teeth. In many cases, your dentist provide a screening exam such as a high resolution pulse oximeter (HRPO) or may refer you to a sleep study, or polysomnogram, to get an official diagnosis.

A typical nocturnal polysomnography will include hooking the patient up to a machine at night to measure various bodily functions, from heart and lung activity to arm and leg movements. This painless test is usually conducted under the care of a sleep technician. Depending on the severity of your condition, portable at-home tests may be given to the patient instead.

Treatment options for sleep apnea

If the tests determine that you do have OSA, then your dentist will work with you to create a customized solution to help you get a better night’s sleep. Having more rest leads to a happier, healthier life, and who doesn’t want that?

One of the most common suggestions is for the patient to cut down on or stop smoking and alcohol consumption, as those things typically worsen the condition. After some lifestyle changes are recommended, the dentist may talk with you about certain devices to help you breathe while you’re asleep.

One of the most common medical devices for patients with OSA is the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, which is essentially a sleep mask that assists in opening up your airways. It’s a bit bulky and for some patients it can be somewhat uncomfortable, but luckily there are other dental appliances available. These devices may be covered by your insurance.

Sometimes, surgery may be the best option for certain patients. It’s a more permanent solution that will adjust your mouth and jaw, leaving more room for air to flow through.

Ready for better sleep?

If you’d like to understand better why you’re not sleeping well at night, let Dr. Stephen Coates and his experienced staff help. Book your appointment using our online system, or call our Long Beach dental office at 562-434-6414.

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Gum Disease Can Adversely Affect Your Quality of Life

A smile is a powerful thing! It costs very little to do and yet can yield a lot of positive outcomes, like more friendships, better job prospects, and a happier life in general.

There are many documented studies all around the world that prove the power of a smile. One British study showed that smiling stimulates the brain in the same way receiving $25,000 does. An amazing 30-year study out of UC Berkeley measured the smiles of teenagers in their yearbook photos, and collected data in their later years like test scores, relationship fulfillment, and how inspiring they were to others. Those with the widest smiles consistently scored the highest.

But you don’t need science to prove how much a smile is worth. Just take note of all the people you encounter every day, and then see how many of them smile and brighten up your mood. Smiling is contagious (again, scientifically proven) so not only do you feel better about yourself, but everyone else feels better too! As Mother Teresa once said, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”

Gum disease is the enemy of a good smile

Without good dental hygiene, this almighty tool loses its power. A study from the University of Michigan revealed that people who exhibit signs and symptoms of gum disease, no matter how severe, were less likely to smile at their full extent, and often times end up covering their mouths to smile or laugh.

Gum disease — inflammation of the gum line that can affect the bone and surrounding teeth — is diagnosed in millions of Americans. Millions more live without realizing they’re showing signs of it, because symptoms are relatively painless. Some of the early signs of gum disease may include:

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Sensitive bleeding gums or discharge around gumlines
  • Receding gumlines
  • Chronic bad breath, or bad taste in mouth
  • Loose teeth

There are also three different stages or degrees of gum disease: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Knowing what stage of gum disease you’re at will help inform your dentist on the best treatment for your condition.

It’s also important to note that gum disease can do more than just harm your smile; it can harm your overall health, too. Studies have shown strong links between periodontal disease and heart disease, stroke, stomach issues, diabetes, and even complications in pregnancy.

How do I prevent gum disease?

Like you do with any disease, prevention is key. Good, thorough, and daily oral care is of course necessary, but routine dental check-ups are where you’ll get the best information. Your dentist will actively look for signs of gum disease and work with you on changing your daily routine if they are concerned about your oral health.

The recommended daily at-home oral care plan is to brush your teeth twice a day, for at least two minutes each time. Use mouthwash whenever you can, and floss your teeth at least once a day BEFORE you brush. Limit the amount of times you smoke, and of course, stay away from drugs. Taking care of your mouth is taking care of your life.

Make sure to schedule your dental exam today to check for signs of — and to receive more information on the prevention — of gum disease. Schedule now with our Long Beach dental office by using our online system, or by calling 562-434-6414.

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What to Do When You Have a Cracked Tooth?

A fractured tooth is never fun. The pain that comes with a crack in your tooth can range depending on the kind of tooth fracture it is, but it’s still a very uncomfortable experience.

There are many ways a patient can get a cracked tooth, and it doesn’t always involve a physical accident. You can crack your tooth by:

  • Chewing on something hard, like a rock
  • Hard grinding on your teeth, or bruxism
  • Physical impact, like getting hit in the face
  • Untreated cavities that weaken the tooth
  • Old mercury/silver amalgam fillings that can expand and act like a wedge to crack the tooth

Do I need to see a dentist for a cracked tooth?

These things can hardly ever be fixed at home, and a fracture can indicate that there may be a larger problem than just the cracked enamel. It’s important that as soon as you notice any pain, like a toothache, that you see your dentist right away.

However, sometimes, if the crack is purely cosmetic, there may be no need for a dental visit. Known as craze lines, you might just have a scratch on your enamel (similar to a scratch on a car) that may not cause you any pain. You could get the lines polished and buffed by your dentist if appearance is a concern.

If my tooth hurts, what can I do to ease the pain before I see the dentist?

If seeing your dentist the same day you notice the pain is not possible, there are a few things you can do in the meantime to deal with the pain:

  • Avoid chewing on the side of the mouth where the pain is
  • Use a straw to drink liquids
  • Apply pressure to the area by biting down on cloth, paper towels, or a tea bag
  • Use dental cement (available at general retailers) to seal the crack temporarily
  • Take your choice of pain relievers
  • Call your dentist’s office for more help

If the pain is too unbearable, you always have the choice of visiting the ER or urgent care for stronger options. While they may not be able to treat the fracture, they can manage the symptoms until you see your dentist or endodontist.

What is treatment like for a fractured tooth?

Every cracked tooth is different, so there are a variety of treatment options a dentist may use in your specific case.

In some instances, a filling material may be used if it’s just a chipped tooth. However, if the crack goes deep into the enamel, and the pulp of the tooth may be exposed, a root canal or a crown may be necessary. If it seems that the pulp may not be in danger, then your dentist may suggest a porcelain onlay (sometimes referred to as a partial crown) instead.

Ready to explore options for your fractured tooth? Schedule an appointment with our Long Beach dental office online, or call us at 562-434-6414.

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How to Make Caring For Teeth Fun for Kids?

One of greatest challenges of parenting is teaching your children good habits. Most of the time, kids resist learning them because they’re “necessary,” meaning they “aren’t fun.” And well, who can blame them? Sometimes being remedial just seems like a chore, and who likes chores?

However, even if we don’t like chores, we as adults know that they must be done. On top of that, caring for your family’s oral health is a necessity because it could cost you a lot more money later in life if good hygiene isn’t practiced today. So, while you know you need to have good teeth and gums, but how do you convince your children?

As a busy parent, you’ve got enough problems to worry about. Teaching your child how to brush their teeth doesn’t have to be cumbersome, so here are some fun and creative tips to get the job done.

Brush Your Own Teeth With Them

Children often learn by watching other people around them, so try making tooth brushing time become family time. Not only will you be there to assist your child brushing their teeth, but you also get your cleaning time as well. Don’t be afraid to let them see you flossing and using mouthwash – showing your kids that you care for your own teeth this way will encourage them later on to do the same.

Play Music Or Audiobooks

Search online and you can find many apps, videos, or audio clips that are about 2 to 2.5 minutes long, dedicated to entertaining your children while they brush their teeth. Give the kids something to look forward to when you tell them that this specific music or video is only allowed during teeth cleaning time. There are popular apps for many families like Brush DJ – where you can choose from a collection of 2 minute songs, or Star Teeth – which contains 2 minute animated clips. Alternatively, you can search YouTube for 2 minute videos.

Use Flavored Toothpaste

Make tooth brushing a special treat by giving your children a variety of toothpaste with different flavors. Add some creativity by assigning flavors to certain days, like Monday Minty, Wednesday Watermelon, or Strawberry Saturdays.

Make It A Positive Experience

Many parents struggle with the idea of rewarding mediocrity, that you shouldn’t have to incentivize children for doing what they are supposed to do. However, even if you choose to reward good behavior as children are just starting to learn how to brush their teeth, you can always pull back on the rewards later. Also, motivation doesn’t have to come from the promise of a reward. It can also just be a fun activity that children get to experience with their family. Bonding time is a great reward that goes both ways.

When Should My Child Start Seeing the Dentist?

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a child should see the dentist right after their first tooth comes in. This is beneficial for both the child and their parent to get them accustomed to seeing a dentist, and gives the dentist a chance to examine the child’s oral condition for any early signs of issues.

Ready to schedule a dental appointment for your family? Book your next appointment online, or call our Long Beach office at 562-434-6414.

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What to Expect in a Routine Dental Cleaning with Your Dentist?

A routine dental cleaning isn’t so different from a routine dental exam, since it’s all about ensuring your teeth and gums are healthy. However, while you’ll receive a teeth cleaning during a regular exam visit, a cleaning visit will allow the dental hygienist more time to spend on you and your mouth.

It’s suggested that in addition to your regular dental exams, that you also come in for a regular cleaning about twice a year. If you have a good daily routine for cleaning your teeth at home, you may be able to afford coming in just once a year. However, with new studies coming out about adults today and their abysmal daily care of their teeth, it’s very likely that you and your family should schedule a dental cleaning right away.

So, what goes on during a dental cleaning visit? Even if you’re scared of going to the dentist, like many American adults today, you’ll find that it’s a simple and almost painless experience, and of course, necessary for your overall health — not just oral.

  1. An initial exam
    A dental hygienist will introduce themselves to you, as generally teeth cleaning is performed without a dentist. However, in a physical exam, the hygienist will use a small mirror and visual inspect your teeth and gums to see if there are any dire issues, in which then a dentist will be called in. Once the initial exam is complete, the hygienist will move on to the next step.
  2. Removing plaque and tartar
    Everyone develops plaque, even if you brush your teeth daily. Plaque is a thin film of bacteria that can build up on the small crevices between your teeth and gums (hence why flossing is important). If plaque isn’t addressed early, then it becomes tartar, which is essentially a hardened, calcified form of plaque, and it makes your teeth look yellow. Plaque can eventually lead to periodontal diseases and gingivitis if you don’t clean your teeth often.The hygienist will use a metal tool called a scraper, which is used just how it sounds — the tool will scrape away plaque and tartar build up. Tartar is hard to remove with common cleaning tools like toothbrushes and floss.
  3. Polish and cleaning
    Once the hygienist is done scraping away, they’ll use an electric toothbrush that will polish your teeth’s enamel. This procedure should definitely not be done at home, as polishing incorrectly can ruin rather than help your enamel. It’s safer with professional guidance. Polishing will remove any remaining stains, and help your teeth to achieve that pearly whiteness so many of us want!
  4. Flossing
    If you already floss at home, you might think this is something you could skip at a dental cleaning, but having a professional floss your teeth is always a good idea. First, the hygienist might see problem areas that you may not have been able to identify on your own. Second, this helps to remove any remaining debris from the cleaning process earlier. Keep in mind that while you’re getting a flossing procedure during your cleaning, you should still learn how to floss correctly at home.
  5. Rinsing and fluoride treatment
    You know how during a car wash, near the end you’ll get streams of water to rinse off the soap, but then there’s also a last bit of sealant or wax that’s applied at the very end? That’s similar to how this step works. After the hygienist rinses your mouth, clearing it from all the soap and debris, you will get a fluoride treatment, or dental sealant, to help protect your teeth from future build-up. Like almost all sealants, this isn’t going to prevent your teeth from plaque 100%, but it’ll be a great line of defense to help fight against additional bacteria.

After all that is said and done, your hygienist will clean up the work area, and sit down with you about any issues they saw during the cleaning, and discuss a thorough at-home cleaning routine for you to commit to. If you haven’t had a digital x-ray of your teeth in a while, this may be suggested to you. X-rays will look under the hood to identify any potential issues beneath your enamel or gums — essentially, places where the naked eye can’t see.

Ready to make your next cleaning appointment with our Long Beach dental office? Schedule online here or call us at 562-434-6414.

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Why You Should See a Dentist Every 6 Months?

Every patient has their own specific needs, but the vast majority of patients benefit most by regular dental exams at every 6 months. Here are the compelling reasons why you should see a dentist twice a year:

Early Detection

Dental issues are progressive in nature and generally preventable. If you’re making regular visits to your dentist, the chances are you won’t have issues with your teeth or gums. If you do happen to have problems, it’s much better to detect them early. The start of tooth decay, if found early, can often be remedied with simple and easy solutions (such as a small filling). However, the longer an issue goes without being treated, the more dramatic measures need to be taken to fix it. Tooth decay can sneak up on you and go completely unnoticed… That’s why it’s important to have regular check-ups, to catch issues you may not even know are present!

Cleanings

Teeth cleanings are a primary reason to visit your dentist regularly. Even if you are dedicated to your oral health and practice careful brushing and flossing, small amounts of plaque and bacteria may often be missed. What starts as soft plaque can mineralize and become hardened fossil-like bacteria in your mouth called tartar. Tartar then irritates your gums and provides hiding places for new bacteria. Bacterial colonies can thrive under tartar deposits because they are sheltered from your toothbrush and self-cleaning saliva. These deposits are difficult to remove on your own, but your dentist has the proper tools to give you a clean start and get rid tartar! Cleanings also include a polishing treatment which keep your teeth shiny and your smile bright.

Hygiene Improvements

A regular exam allows your dentist to see where those tartar build-ups tend to be on your teeth. This gives your dentist the opportunity to share that information with you and suggest ways of brushing or flossing differently that might be able to prevent future builds-ups in the same spot. Your dentist can also share ways for improving your oral hygiene habits at home, which will contribute to better overall oral health.

Improved Quality Of Care

By making regular office visits a habit, you give your dentist the opportunity to see you when there might not be a specific problem. This allows your dentist to become familiar with what is normal for you and a chance to get to know your dental health better. Your quality of care will actually improve because your dentist can make more personalized recommendations for your care and follow ups. Getting familiar with your dentist can also help alleviate anxiety and make the entire experience much better for both patient and doctor.

Are you looking to schedule your next appointment? Call our office today at (562) 434-6414!

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What to Expect at a Routine Dental Checkup?

No matter how great your oral hygiene is, a visit to the dentist for a basic exam should occur regularly. For many patients, simply going twice a year is sufficient, but for those who either have custom dental work or may be at high risk for gum disease, you should consider going to the dentist more frequently.

Much like a physical performed by your general practitioner, a dental checkup helps to bring to light any potential issues with your teeth and gums. Identifying issues before they arise is key to good prevention and could potentially save you a lot of money from expensive surgeries and missed productivity due to dental emergencies. According to the CDC, over 92 million work or school hours are missed annually due to an unplanned or emergency dental issue.

Plus, you’ll get your teeth cleaned before the examination, so you’ll have a fresh and clean mouth when you leave!

Here’s how a typical dental checkup will look:

Signing in at the front desk

When you come into the office, be sure to check in with our receptionist in the front. You’ll have some paperwork to complete, which should only take about 5 minutes. Be sure to also update your contact information, in case you’ve moved recently or have gotten a new phone number.

Meeting your dental assistant or hygienist

After signing in, you’ll be brought into one of the offices to have a chat with one of the Certified Dental Assistants. Before any work is done, the dental staff will want to review your medical history, and they’ll ask you if there have been any changes to your health since your last visit, such as new medications or injuries. This information is important, as it’ll inform your dentist of any potential issues or prescription complications.

Getting your teeth cleaned

At this point, the dental hygienist or dentist will start cleaning your teeth, scraping away loose plaque and tartar and then rinsing it away with a stream of water. This cleaning also provides the dental staff with an opportunity to see any issues on the surface of your teeth, like hard-to-remove plaque or loose teeth.

Examining your teeth

Using a metal probe and a small mirror, the dentist will now closely inspect your teeth and gum for any potential issues. A dental examination will also measure your gingival pockets, which helps to identify the possibility for gum disease. Your dentist will also look for signs of tooth decay or softening, and oral cancer. The doctor will also check your existing restorations like crowns or fillings.

A digital x-ray may also be performed to check what’s underneath the hood, so to speak. This is essential for the detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss.

Discussing your current oral health and future plans

Once the dentist gathers all the information that they need, they will then update you on what they found, and if there are any recommended procedures. No one likes to know that they’ll need more dental work, but keep in mind that good oral health is key to good overall health, and preventative measures now will keep at bay major issues in the future.

Your dentist will work with you on the most cost-effective ways to keep up good oral health, including what you can do at home. If another dental office visit is required for a procedure, like a root canal or a filling, and you’re unsure of the costs associated with it, then the staff can work with you to determine the best financing options.

At the dental office of Dr. Stephen Coates in Long Beach, California, we are committed to providing you and your family the best care fit for your unique needs. To schedule your next dental exam,
click here or call us at 562-434-6414.

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Should I Get Professional Teeth Whitening or is Over-the-Counter Good Enough?

If you ask someone, “What’s the one thing you could change about your teeth?” the most likely response you’d receive is having whiter teeth.

Over the course of our lifetime, everyone’s pearly whites darken and discolor. From the foods and drinks we consume, to the minimal care one might take with their teeth, it’s hard to keep them white. Plaque builds up on our teeth, causing them to lose their whiteness.

So, it’s no surprise that there are a myriad of whitening products available on the market. From whitening toothpaste to at-home whitening strips, the options can be overwhelming, and the marketing can be vague. So, what’s the solution for you?

Whitening with Your Local Dentist

It should come as no surprise that the best path to whiter teeth is to work with a professional who deals with this every day. It’s unanimously understood that getting a whitening procedure done with your dentist is the most effective way to get whiter teeth. But is the time and effort worth it, compared to over-the-counter products?

The bleaching agents used at a dentist’s office are professional-grade. This means that they’re more highly concentrated than the ones that are used in over-the-counter whitening products, as professional intervention is required when using stronger tools.

This is another benefit of working with your dentist – supervision and professional guidance. One of the downfalls of using a product without the help of a dental hygienist is that you leave room for error, and you may not be getting the best results from your whitening products. Another potential issue is that some of the dental pain that is a side-effect of whitening can go unsupervised.

Using a Tray with Whitening Gel

Arguably, at-home kits with trays that you place on your teeth are one of the better over-the-counter products you could use. However, the trays still are not custom fit for your teeth. A dentist will be able to develop a custom tray that ensures the stronger whitening gel is evenly applied to your teeth, so you don’t end up with different shades of white at the end.

Getting custom trays are also recommended for people who are still in need of teeth straightening, or have dental work like crowns or caps that need professional supervision.

Beware Products that Over-Promise and Under-Deliver

The problem with retail whitening products is that if you’re not satisfied with the results, there’s really no one that you can hold accountable. The marketing on the packages can be pretty vague, making claims like “10 to 30% whiter teeth!” What does that even mean?

Sometimes, adding a feature like “whitening” gives a toothpaste brand the opportunity to charge more for the product, while only being nominally better than its original product. Even if used on a daily basis, many customers report seeing a lack of results in the whitening of their teeth.

If professional whitening isn’t an option, some dentists suggest that at-home kits with trays and whitening gel, like Crest Whitestrips, might be top-of-the-line in regards to retail products.

Professional Teeth Whitening is the Way to Go

At the end of the day, your doctor knows best. Getting treatment with your dentist not only allows you to get the best product available for whitening, but also offers you some comfort in the process. Your dentist will ensure you get the best results possible, while also mitigating some of the negative side effects of whitening.

Learn more about the teeth whitening services at our Long Beach dental office, and book your appointment with us today, either using our online system or by calling
562-434-6414.

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Don’t Live With a Painful, Infected Tooth – Get a Root Canal

No one likes to live with pain. So, when it comes to dealing with an infected tooth, why does it seem like so many patients are scared of a root canal?

Truth is, root canals are relatively harmless procedures that can actually save you a LOT of pain in the future. This endodontic treatment involves removing the infected pulp (which is inside a tooth beneath the enamel), and then filling the tooth to restore it to its normal functions.

The pulp sounds important. Don’t I need it?

The pulp, which is a soft tissue containing nerves, blood vessels, and other connective tissue, is important to the tooth’s growth in a person’s early life. However, once the tooth is matured, it can survive without the pulp, continuing to be nourished by surrounding connected tissue.

How do I know that I need a root canal?

The reasons that patients need this endodontic procedure may vary, but ultimately it all boils down to the fact that the pulp itself is inflamed or infected.

Generally, reasons for this include tooth decay that’s deep and reaches below the enamel, a tooth that’s been worked on too often, a tooth that’s cracked or chipped – the list goes on. During your regular check-ups, your dentist will be able to communicate to you if they believe that you need a root canal.

What can I expect from this procedure?

The average root canal treatment does not take very long at all, and is fairly painless, thanks in part to modern advances in science and technology. The procedure can be broken down into 4 steps:

  1. An x-ray is taken to determine where the infected pulp is, locating it for the procedure.
  2. Local anesthesia is delivered to the affected tooth.
  3. An opening is created, and the infected pulp is then removed.
  4. The exposed roots are filled with gutta-percha material, and the tooth is sealed off!

Simple, right?

Is tooth extraction an option?

Completely removing an infected tooth is definitely an option, but it can also be costly.

If your natural tooth can be saved, it is generally suggested that it is. Maintenance on a natural tooth is much easier than on an implant.  Keeping your natural tooth enhances your smile, your confidence, and your bank account!

Schedule your next appointment with Dr. Stephen Coates to see if you’re in need of a root canal. Just click here to use our online scheduler or call our Long Beach dentistry at
562-434-6414.

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When Should I Schedule My Child’s First Dental Check-up?

When it comes to your child’s health, many people tend to overlook their oral health! It’s pretty easy not to think about the dentist until your child gets their first toothache or cavity. However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child sees the dentist after their first tooth comes in, or by the time their first birthday arrives.

Why? Because good health starts with a healthy mouth. As parents, it’s important that we stay informed on today’s best practices for maintaining good oral health for our children.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s estimated that about 20% of children aged 5 to 11 have at least one untreated decaying tooth. Cavities can be the beginning of a whole host of issues later in life. Fortunately, cavities are preventable, especially when a child starts to see a dentist earlier rather than later.

Other benefits to seeing the dentist early in a child’s life include:

  • Learning techniques to prevent cavities and gum disease in children.
  • Assessing the current condition of the child’s oral health.
  • Determining whether a dental sealant is necessary for your child to help prevent cavities.
  • Getting the child used to seeing the dentist (helps to curb future onset of dental anxiety).
  • Helping encourage children to care more about their oral health as they get older.
  • Evaluation for tethered oral tissues that can inhibit a child from eating and speaking well
  • Evaluation of growth pattern and airway development risks

Tooth decay remains one of the most common chronic conditions among children, according to the CDC. This could also be attributed to the fact that it may be financially difficult for families to take their children to the dentist. Children from low-income families are more at risk for periodontal disease and issues.

However, there are many options for people in this situation:

  • Check out org for the latest news and research on dental care for children.
  • Apply for grants like this one from Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children.
  • Go to your local county health clinic or other government-funded programs like WIC.
  • Check with your medical insurance to see if your dependents are covered for dental care.
  • Find low-cost dental insurance for children using a site like gov.

If you still need financial assistance for covering your dental care, you can also inquire with our staff regarding available lending solutions.

Ready to book your appointment? Schedule now online or by calling our team at 562-434-6414.

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