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Why You Still Need Regular Exams and Cleanings When You Have Braces

till Need Regular Exams and Cleanings

Going to the dentist is important for everyone. It’s the main defense against dental disease. As important as it is to visit the dentist for everyone, it’s even more important when you have braces. Regardless of whether you have traditional braces or Invisalign, the added hardware can cause major issues if your dental care is neglected.

Consequences Of Poor Dental Care

Here are just a few reasons to stay up-to-date with your dental cleanings, especially when you have braces:

Tooth Decay

While it may feel like your teeth are wearing a shield of armor having braces, you are just as susceptible to tooth decay, if not more susceptible. Food and debris can become stuck around the braces or under your straightening tray and, if left there, can cause decay and eventually cavities.

Bad Breath

Just like when you don’t have braces, neglecting your professional dental treatments can cause bad breath. The difference is braces offer more places for food and debris to hide, leading to more opportunities for bad breath.

Gum Disease

Although it’s a bit more difficult to do so with braces, brushing and flossing is still crucial to your gum health. By having regular dental exams, you can keep your gums healthy, improving your overall health along the way.

Stained Teeth

As we’ve seen with tooth decay and bad breath, extra hardware on your teeth offers many more great hiding places for food and debris. Letting this junk sit on your teeth can quickly lead to staining. Without regular dental treatments, you could have your braces removed and see a faint outline of where they were.

Tips for In-between Visits

Having a dental cleaning every six months can greatly improve the chances that you will avoid cavities, tooth decay, and staining. In-between those appointments, here are some things you can do to improve your dental health with braces:


Brushing twice a day is the habit most people are in. However, with braces you should be brushing after each time you eat. That includes lunch, snacks, and mid-night treats. This is because of the likelihood of food getting stuck around your braces. Keeping a travel toothbrush with you and getting in the habit of brushing every time you eat will greatly improve your chances of avoiding tooth decay.


Flossing is notoriously difficult to keep up as a habit. It’s arguably even harder with braces. While it can feel like you are fighting with your braces every time, flossing at least once a day can help to remove any hidden food stuff, especially under the wires. Try a floss threader for an easier experience and talk with your dentist about other options.

Watch What You Eat

Because it’s so easy for food to build up around the hardware of your braces, watching what you eat is critical. Be mindful of things like caramel, corn on the cob, chewing gum, and other things that could damage your braces or cause serious issues if it becomes trapped around your braces.


If you find yourself without a toothbrush after you eat, one thing you can do is have a quick rinse. Simply swishing vigorously after you eat can dislodge food that has become stuck around your braces and that will help to prevent dental disease.

With a little extra effort and regular dental treatments can help you maintain your dental health and leave you with beautiful teeth after your braces are removed. Schedule your next dental appointment today and stay on track with your dental health.

Call our Long Beach dental office at 562-434-6414 or request an appointment date and time here.

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For Better Oral Health, Resolve for Less Stress This Year

For Better Oral Health, Resolve for Less Stress This Year

“New Year, New Me!”

We’ve all said it before, or at least meant to say it. After that we gave our resolution the ‘good ol’ college try’ for a little while. Maybe we even kept it up into February, or March.

But after a tumultuous 2020, committing to a resolution that will focus on making our lives better and healthier will never be more important. Lessening and managing our stress is the most important thing we can do for our general well-being in the new year. The benefits will of course be many, if we do so.

We all know the obvious signs of stress on our physical and mental state; mood changes and depression, weight gain, poor sleep patterns, and being more susceptible to seasonal illnesses. But what is often forgotten, as a sign of more stress in our lives, is the toll it takes on our mouths.

Yes, oral health is often overlooked in times like these and the long-term effects can be very detrimental.

Higher stress levels can lead to teeth grinding and clenching, usually while we sleep. Ever wake up with a sore jaw or headache? Classic case of teeth grinding! Furthermore, teeth grinding (or bruxism) can lead to TMJ (temporomandibular joints) disorder, which is when you experience swelling and stiffness in your lower jaw.

Canker and cold sores have been linked to higher than normal stress also. Because stress can take its toll on your immune system, it can occasionally lead to these flare-ups.

When we are stressed, obvious parts of healthy routines start to slip too. Rushing or skipping teeth cleaning will have obvious long-term oral health impacts such as teeth decay and gum disease. And then there are dietary choices like sugary snacks and drinks high in acidity (looking at you coffee) that do a world of hurt to our mouths.

So, as January progresses and February comes around, continually remind yourself the importance of stress management.

And when your stress is better managed, so will your oral health.

Need some help with committing to a better oral health routine? Our dental team in Long Beach can help! Book your exam with us and get tips on improving your health. Give us a call at 562-434-6414 or request an appointment time here.

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How to Use Your New HSA or FSA for Dental Care

Use Your New HSA or FSA for Dental Care

It’s the beginning of the new year, which likely means you’ve got new insurance, and maybe a new HSA (health savings account) or FSA (flexible spending account.) While both accounts seem pretty similar, they do have some differences. For the purposes of this article, we’ll discuss more into its similarities.

Flexible spending accounts or FSA’s are, according to, “arrangement through your employer that lets you pay for many out-of-pocket medical expenses with tax-free dollars.” HSAs work in a similar fashion, where you contribute money pre-tax into a separate savings account that you can use to pay for certain medical-related expenses.

The key difference between the two is that normally FSA funds must be spent by a certain time, or else your funds will expire. Funds in an HSA do not expire and are 100% yours, regardless of whether you leave your employer.

But, a key similarity is that both accounts can be used to pay for many dental services, so as long as it is health-related.

Which Dental Expenses Can Be Paid For With FSAs and HSAs?

The IRS guidelines for eligible dental expenses are pretty clear. They will cover any dental expenses which treat or prevent dental disease. This can include:

  • Dentures
  • Cleaning
  • Bonding
  • Crowns
  • Tooth Extraction
  • Gingivitis Treatments

What Is Excluded?

Unfortunately, different cosmetic procedures, including teeth whitening and veneers are exempt from the list of dental expenses. If you’re looking to make your teeth shine, you’re going to have to pay out of pocket. Even dental floss and toothpaste are exempt from the list.

Orthodontia is a little bit of a grey area when it comes to your FSA or HSA plan. If you want to know the specifics you should contact your dentist, and they will be able to go over the details with you.

Check with Your Human Resources

It’s a good idea to go over the FSA or HSA plan of your employer. There are some variations and if you’re concerned about whether or not the procedure that you’re looking for is covered, you should contact HR.

They will be able to go over the plan with you and ensure that you know exactly what is covered and what isn’t.

Start the new year off right by booking your dental exam soon! Our Long Beach dental team is ready to help you and your family with their dental care needs. Call us at 562-434-6414 or
request an appointment here.

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Dental-Related Resolutions to Make for 2021

The year is quickly coming to a close and with it will come a new year. In this new year, you have the chance to improve your dental health through New Year’s Resolutions. Many people make these resolutions, whether it is to lose weight, go to church, or just call your mom once in a while. But dental goals often go overlooked. This year, take the time to consider some of your dental health goals! Below are some that you might consider:

Eat Better

We all know we should eat healthy to help our bodies run smoothly. Did you realize that eating healthy can also improve your dental health? Cutting out the sweets and reducing your alcohol intake, for starters, can have huge impacts on your dental health. Sure, kale isn’t as tasty as fried chicken, but making simple choices like that can have long-term benefits for your teeth.

Commit to Your Habits

When was the last time you flossed? If you said anything other than yesterday, you have some room for improvement. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day isn’t just recommended for fun – these two habits can make a huge difference in your overall dental health and systemic health. As the new year rolls in, recommit to brushing twice a day and flossing once a day.

Quit Smoking and Other Tobacco Products

There are many reasons to quit smoking and other tobacco products, but some of those reasons are dental. Did you know smokers are twice as likely to lose their teeth as a non-smoker? If you want to make sure you never have to worry about a toothless smile, consider ditching the cigarettes and tobacco products, if for no other reason than your pearly whites.

Try Restorative and Cosmetic Services

Whatever the reasons are that your teeth aren’t what you would like, you can have them fixed. This can improve your health and, just as importantly, your confidence. Try a teeth whitening treatment or even Invisalign® to fix a crooked smile. Talk to your dentist about your options and what procedures are available to you.

Preventative, Regular Dental Visits

When was the last time you visited the dentist? When is your next appointment? You should be having dental visits every six months to maintain your dental health. The x-rays can show you where cavities are forming and the cleanings are great for preventing things like cavities and gingivitis. You need these cleanings for your overall health and you can commit to having two dental visits this year as part of your New Year’s Resolutions.

No matter what you choose for the rest of your New Year’s Resolutions, make sure you have at least a couple dental goals on there, too. Enjoy the celebration and maybe go buy some floss!

Take the next step and book your next dental appointment with our Long Beach dental team! Give us a call at 562-434-6414 or request an appointment here.

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Caring for Your Oral Health During the Colder Months

We are entering the winter months and you may be noticing that the dry air is affecting more than just your skin. Here we share a few tips to combat the issues that can impact your oral health in the winter.

Chapped Lips

Exposure to wind, cold air and the sun causes dry lips. Using a lip balm with SPF 15 protection or petroleum jelly, staying hydrated, and using a humidifier at night can help to manage this problem.

Canker Sores

Foods that are highly acidic or spicy can spurn canker sores. If you should develop one gargle with a mixture of one teaspoon of salt with a half cup of water to encourage healing. Also, check with your orthodontist about the fitting of your orthodontic appliance if you think this could be causing irritation.

Cold Sores

Cold sore breakouts are very common when the winter approaches. Protect the skin surrounding your mouth with SPF15 products, keeping your lips moisturized, keep your hands clean and away from your face, and reduce your stress to avoid or treat cold sores.

Dry Mouth

The lack of moisture in the air can inhibit saliva production. Colds can also cause dry mouth. Drink lots of water, chew sugar free gum, and use a humidifier to increase moisture in your home.


Switching between hot and cold drinks or simply breathing in the winter air can cause tooth pain. There are toothpastes that help sensitive teeth.


The holidays bring with them sugary treats. Make sure you brush and floss your teeth regularly to wash away any excess sugar and plaque to avoid developing a cavity.

Other Ways to Keep Your Mouth Healthy in Winter Months

  • Brush twice a day
  • Floss each day
  • Ensure you have a clean toothbrush by replacing it every three months
  • Keep up with your regular checkup and cleanings with your dental provider
  • Drink water and eat healthy
  • Consult with your dentist when concerns arise

Enjoy your winter but remember to keep your oral health as a top priority. Watch out for these winter health woes and use these preventive methods to avoid any issues that could get in the way of your holiday fun. For more tips or to discuss any oral health issues, schedule an appointment with us soon!

Our Long Beach dental team is ready to help you and your family! Call us today at 562-434-6414 or request an appointment using our online form here.

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‘Mask Mouth’ May Lead to Oral Health Issues

Masks have been a part of our daily lives since last spring and they will probably be around for a while to come. Wearing a face mask prevents the transmission of the virus that landed us in this pandemic. While most of us are getting used to it and are happy to do our part to fight the spread of COVID-19, the deed is amplifying and even causing issues with our oral health.

From tooth decay to bad breath, here we share ways that mask mouth is affecting our lives and what you can do to minimize the damage.

What Is Mask Mouth?

Face masks tend to dry our mouths out and encourage plaque buildup due to switching from nasal breathing to mouth breathing. Nasal breathing is the healthiest form of breathing. Breathing through your nose has many benefits including: heats, humidifies, filters, and disinfects the air we breathe. Mouth breathing does none of that and actually does the opposite in many situations.

Problems Caused or Exacerbated by Masks

Reduced Saliva – The saliva we produce protects our mouth by fighting bacteria present and stops viruses from entering the body. When masks cause dry mouth, this decreases the impact that saliva can have on the mouth. A dry mouth is also usually a stinky one, halitosis is worsened by a dry mouth. The food left in our teeth when we lack saliva can cause tooth decay.

Gum Concerns – Inflamed gums and gum disease is on the rise as a result of the plaque that builds up in dry mouths that wear masks continually throughout the day.

Dehydration – When you’re wearing a mask it can be a bother to repeatedly pull it down to ensure that we are drinking enough water each day. Mouth breathing also dehydrates you.

Preventing Mask Mouth

There are things you can do while wearing your mask and when you’re out of it to help fight mask mouth.

  • Breathe through your nose as much as possible, not your mouth
  • Drink plenty of water during the day
  • Make sure you brush and floss twice a day
  • Rinse your mouth after each snack or meal
  • Make sure that you get dental care for gum disease
  • Wash your mask if it is reusable
  • If your mask is disposable, change and discard them frequently
  • Reduce your intake of caffeine, sugar
  • Visit your dentist regularly, especially if you notice bad breath or have any other oral health concerns

Dr. Coates’ Long Beach, CA dental team is here to help you keep mask mouth at bay or solve any issues that it has caused. We are open and available, ready to help you with cleanings, gum disease treatments, and other dental solutions.

Call us to schedule your appointment today at 562-434-6414 or request an appointment using our online system here.

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Why New Mothers Need to Consider Their Oral Health

There are so many things to consider when you become pregnant. You are preoccupied with baby names, nursery décor and planning baby showers. Of course, the obstetrics appointments and ultrasounds are top priority. There is so much to do that it is no wonder that women barely consider their oral health.

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums while pregnant is important because of all of the hormonal changes that increase the chance of gum disease. If you are considering becoming pregnant, visit your dental provider and take care of cleanings and examinations so that you can get any needed treatment out of the way.

If you are already pregnant, it is never too late to take care of your oral health during your pregnancy. Your oral health can affect your pregnancy and the oral health of your child.

The Changes to Your Oral Health in Pregnancy

Hormone levels are elevated during pregnancy. It can increase the sensitivity of your teeth and gums. 75% of pregnant women suffer from gingivitis, which can cause more serious gum and tooth conditions. Periodontitis is associated with preterm births and low birth weight as well as gestational complications.

The morning sickness that appears during pregnancy can make you more vulnerable to developing cavities. Baking soda and water can help lessen the acid levels after an occurrence of morning sickness. Wait half an hour after this rinse to brush your teeth.

What to Do When You Are Expecting

Women who are expecting should continue to brush their teeth and floss as normal, at least twice a day. You should also schedule an exam with your dentist to identify any issues and discuss the best way to take care of your teeth throughout your pregnancy. Avoid eating snacks full of sugar and eat a balanced diet. Ensure that you consume the necessary nutrients, like calcium, to help your growing baby develop healthy teeth and bones.

When Your Baby Arrives

After your bundle of joy comes into the world you will have to start thinking about their dental health, too. Their first appointment should be scheduled by the time they reach their first birthday or within 6 months of the first tooth eruption.

Maintaining good oral health during your pregnancy not only affects you, it also improves your child’s birth weight and oral health. This is just one more thing that you can do to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

It’s time to schedule an appointment with us! Our friendly dental team in Long Beach, CA provides quality dental service for all families. Book an appointment with us by calling 562-434-6414 or request an appointment using the link here.

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Holiday Foods to Consider for Better Oral Health

As we approach the holidays, it is time to gather some ideas about festive meals and snacks that are as kind to our teeth as they are to our tummies. These snacks and dishes put a twist on those traditional favorites for the holidays.

You will be bombarded with a variety of sweets and rich offerings in the office so it’s a good idea to carry your healthy snacks with you so that you won’t inadvertently damage your oral health as you go about your day.

Traditional American Holiday Foods

An alternative to turkey and rich gravy, opt for the lower in fat white meat sans the skin. Make a gravy drizzle from the pan juices, dry white wine and low-sodium chicken broth. Wild rice dressing makes a healthy alternative to the corn bread stuffing.

Finger foods and dips can be replaced by nuts, low fat cheese, fresh fruit, veggie platters and shrimp cocktail. Substitute the traditional dips with hummus.

Mashed potatoes is a family favorite. Try offering your clan mashed sweet potatoes or baked sweet potato rounds. To make your sweet potatoes a little more festive sprinkle with cinnamon.

The smell of pecan pie wafting through the house is a favorite holiday scent. When serving up your dish, nix the crust and just try a small sampling. Pumpkin pie is also a lower calorie alternative that provides beta-carotene.

Other Options for More Holiday Dishes

No matter if you’re preparing an American meal, or serving up traditional foods from non-American customs like Latin America, there are minor substitutions you can make to tweak your recipes.

There are wonderful resources online that provide new, innovative recipes to help cut down on sugar, and increase the nutritional value of popular dishes.

Here are some other tips to consider when preparing snacks or other meals.

  • Opt for dark chocolate as it is good for the heart and contains less sugar.
  • Cheese neutralizes the acidity of your mouth, so try the cheese in moderation.
  • Milk, along with your snack, offers calcium and helps the acidity level in the mouth.
  • Almonds and other nuts are high in protein and calcium.
  • Apples help to clean the surface of the teeth and stimulate the gums. Add on the holiday cheer with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

One great option for protecting your families’ oral health through the holidays is to get sealants and fluoride treatment. Dental sealants are most effective for young children after their permanent teeth have arrived, and provide an extra layer of protection against tooth decay and cavities.

Schedule an exam with the dentist today and get the dental services your family needs to achieve great overall health. Call our Long Beach dental office at 562-434-6414 or request an appointment here.

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What Type of Mouthwash Should You Use?

An oft-forgotten step in an oral care routine is using mouthwash. Can you remember the last time you swished? Mouthwash is important for overall oral health for many reasons and can add an extra layer of defense for your teeth and gums.

Choosing the right mouthwash for you can sometimes be an exercise in trial and error, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some things to look for when choosing your mouthwash.

For Kids

Starting your children with a mouthwashing habit can benefit them in the short and long term. If they become used to using mouthwash when they brush, they will continue that habit into adulthood, leading to fewer dental and oral issues.

For young brushers, you don’t want a mouthwash with alcohol, as that will cause burning. Many adult mouthwashes are too strong for young mouths. Try a kid-friendly mouthwash; many brands now have these options and carry them in the dental aisle.


If you are focused on avoiding chemicals, there are plenty of all-natural options. These typically have plant-based ingredients, like xylitol or essential oils like tea tree and spearmint. It’s important to note that these are usually free of fluoride.


For a little boost in your mouthwash, try one with fluoride. This naturally-occurring mineral can help to rebuild weakened tooth enamel, slow the loss of minerals from tooth enamel, reverse the early signs of tooth decay, and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in your mouth.

Brands are now coming out with products that are advertised as having fluoride, but many products already have it in their formula. Check the ingredients on the bottle to see if your mouthwash includes fluoride.


There are many great options for mouthwashes meant to help whiten your teeth. These are often clearly marked as a whitening product. When coupled with whitening toothpaste or whitening treatments, it can be an extra defense against tooth discoloration.

Gum Health

When you’re brushing your teeth, are you thinking about your gums? Without healthy gums, your oral health will suffer. Gingivitis and bacteria can creep in quickly, especially without proper brushing technique. If you notice your gums are red, swollen, or tender, try a mouthwash focused on gum health.


In the last decade, alcohol-free mouthwashes have made their mark on the mouthwash market. The biggest benefit in choosing an alcohol-free mouthwash is that it’s more gentle. You won’t have that same burning as you would with a traditional mouthwash. This is another great option for kids. These are also great if you frequently have dry mouth.

Still unsure what to use in your daily oral hygiene routine? Our Long Beach dental hygiene team have all the tips you need to help you along your journey towards better oral health. Book your dental exam today by calling 562-434-6414 or by requesting an appointment here.

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Winning Oral Health: Get Your Teeth Cleaned Before Your Benefits Expire

Many popular game shows require contestants to complete tasks, such as an obstacle course, before time expires. If the contestants fail, they may lose or maybe get slime poured on them. Think of using this year’s dental benefits as a game, without of the fear of being slimed! Your dental benefits expire at year-end in use-them-or-lose-them fashion. You don’t want to lose the value of your dental care benefits when your teeth and gums need a check-up every six months anyway.

Your Best Move: Regular Dental Cleanings

Your dental health depends on good care. At home, you brush and floss daily, at a minimum, to keep your mouth healthy. Dental cleaning goes beyond what you can do at home with a thorough cleaning of plaque and debris, some preventive measures to keep teeth strong, and an examination of your teeth and all parts of your mouth. If anything looks unusual in your mouth, the hygienist is often the first to see it. That’s why it’s important to visit your dental professionals every six months as part of your dental care routine.

The dental hygienist can help to spot cavities and take x-rays to further diagnose any suspicious findings. More serious conditions can be found. Abnormal spots or patterns on your teeth, gums, lips, tongue or cheeks can indicate autoimmune conditions, infection, and certain diseases such as diabetes and oral cancer. Beating the buzzer on finding and treating these conditions is critical, providing more than enough reason for twice-a-year dental cleanings.

Playing to Win

Sometimes, people don’t like going to the dentist because it isn’t pleasant or it takes too much time. This is short-term thinking. In the long run, if you don’t take care of your mouth, you’re likely to have future trips to the dentist for repair work and treatment.

Another reason to see your dentist is money. If you’re paying for dental insurance, then you’ve got some monetary benefits available to you that may expire when the year ends, which means you’re likely throwing away money. Plus, a regular dental visit can help prevent more expensive visits down the road, meaning that’s money you’re saving.

If you have an appointment with us, we can check with your insurance about your remaining benefits ahead of your visit. If you need to make a dental cleaning appointment with us, call our Long Beach dental office now and let’s find a time that works for you!

Call us at 562-434-6414 or request an appointment here.

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