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Could Migraine Headaches Be Caused By Dental Issues?

Headaches can be caused by a myriad of issues, but chronic migraines are the sign of a bigger problem. If you go to your family practitioner or urgent care, you may be prescribed something to deal with the tension headaches. But did you know that your dentist can actually help you with your headaches? It’s possible that the root of your migraines could stem from your mouth!

People have two Temporomandibular Joints (TMJs) that connect the sides of the jaw to the skull. These joints are used frequently when you’re chewing, talking, and even yawning. Pain that starts in those joints or in the muscles surrounding them can travel to the skull, and will often become tension headaches.

TMJD (or Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction) is characterized as the pain or compromised movement of the jaw and the surrounding muscles, and it’s an issue that’s experienced by millions of Americans every day. The causes of TMJD vary case by case, but include:

  • Stress
  • Severe chewing or crunching
  • Teeth grinding or bruxism
  • Arthritis or jaw injury
  • Misaligned jaw

Having any of the aforementioned challenges may not mean that you have TMJD, but these are still oral issues that can cause headaches.

If seeing your dentist is not possible at the earliest moment, try doing these things to help alleviate the pain:

  • Wear a mouthguard at night to inhibit teeth grinding
  • Massage your temples to relieve headaches and jaw pain
  • Lessen the amount of overall jaw use, like chewing and talking

If you live in or near the Long Beach, CA area, then let Dr. Stephen Coates and his experienced dental staff take care of your dental needs. Book your appointment now online or by phone at 562-434-6414.

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How to Make Oral Health a Priority for 2019

The turn of the year is the perfect time to reflect on the past 12 months and make resolutions on how to make the coming new year even better!

But as we all know, New Year’s Resolutions don’t always stick, and many of us will likely lose the motivation a few weeks into the new year. Better health is a common resolution to make, and a common one to lose. There’s a reason why so many gyms offer great discounts at the beginning of year!

If better health is on the docket for you in 2019, oral health is a great place to start. Many scientific studies have shown the direct correlation between oral health and the health of the rest of your body.

Just recently, a study at the University of L’Aquila in Italy discovered that those with periodontal disease or at risk of getting it had a 20% higher chance of having high blood pressure. Additionally, people with high blood pressure but who have healthy gums received better results from medications made to lower blood pressure.

This is just one of the many studies conducted in the past decade that proves that having good oral health, or even having good habits for maintaining good oral hygiene, can positively affect your overall health – and ultimately your overall quality of life!

To start the new year off right, here’s what we recommend:

  • Check the insurance you have for dental coverage.
    First, look through your current insurance to see if you’re covered for dental. A quick call or email to your employer’s HR department can help. Most companies and insurance companies now offer access to your documents via an online portal that you can log into.

    Then, check to see if it’s possible to change your plan if you’re not happy with it. Around this time of the year, many companies offer open enrollment, where you can change or add or remove plans. Enrollment period may end soon for you, so check quickly!

    Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, getting coverage is easy if your employer does not offer dental insurance. Even the lowest tier of plans will cover preventative care like dental cleanings, exams and x-rays. Check this site for more information.

  • Schedule an appointment with your local dentist.
    If you don’t already have a dentist, now is the time to find one. A quick Google search will reveal great dental offices in your area. Give them a call to see if they have any openings that fit your schedule. If you’re located in or near Long Beach, we’d be happy to schedule an appointment.
  • Have a list of questions and concerns to bring up to your dentist.
    The dental team is there to help every patient feel valued and cared for. Don’t be afraid to ask about the services provided and what to expect from the different services! Talk to them about your oral care routine and ask about what to do to better care for your teeth.

    Have a discussion about your overall lifestyle, too. Dentists want to know if you play sports, what your eating habits are like, and what you do for work, because it will help them determine the best treatment and preventative plans fit for you.

  • Enlist friends, family, and technology to help.
    If you’re being held accountable to a goal, chances are that you’re more likely to reach it. Have a network of people who are there to motivate you to improve your oral health. Add a nightly routine where you and your roommate brush your teeth together for two minutes, or look for a dentist together with a sibling.

    There are also several mobile phone apps designed to help you stay on track. A popular one for children and adults is called Brush DJ, which has a variety of tools that make oral hygiene fun and easy. You can even have Alexa or Siri set up reminders to tell you when to brush your teeth.

  • Break up your goals into actionable steps.
    Studies have shown that when people have tangible, short-term goals rather than long-term and vague ones, they are more likely to not only achieve those smaller goals, but also keep them in the long-run. That’s because the motivation you get from achieving small goals snowballs into the next step, and so forth.

    Consider setting up goals like “floss every morning,” “use mouthwash immediately after dessert,” “buy portable floss to carry when eating out,” “schedule an appointment with my dentist,” or even “buy a mouthguard” if you tend to grind your teeth at night (referred to as bruxism) or for when you play sports.

Having healthy teeth and gums does not have to be hard. All it takes is having the right team of experts to help you along the way!

Our dental office led by Dr. Stephen Coates has been servicing the Long Beach, CA area for decades, helping families and individuals achieve optimum oral health and gorgeous smiles. Schedule your appointment now using our online system, or by calling 562-434-6414.

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Why You Might Need to See a Dentist Before Elective Surgery

If you’ve ever had to prepare for a planned surgery, your doctor may have asked you to see your dentist first to get a Dental Clearance Letter to ensure that your teeth are in good condition before the day of the surgery. But why?

Elective surgery is a surgery that is scheduled days in advance – as opposed to an emergency surgery. Depending on your situation, you may be administered general anesthesia orally before the procedure. If you have any fractures or other dental issues, then complications may occur.

An anesthesiologist assigned to your case will meet with you days before your surgery to visually inspect your mouth to look for signs of problems. Unfortunately, they do not have the knowledge and experience to assess subtle signs of infection nor will they take dental x-rays to look for deep infection in the bones. They should ask that you see your dentist immediately if there are any overt issues. Most hospitals will require a dental clearance before joint replacements, heart surgery, and radiation/chemotherapy. Some issues that may pose a problem with surgery preparation include:

  • Tooth decay, abscessed tooth, or cavities
  • Infection or gum disease
  • Bleeding or swollen gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth fractures or chipping

According to research from NCBI, a large number of lawsuits against anesthesiologists involve damaged teeth, so the Dental Clearance Letter protects both you and the anesthesiologist.

What’s more, there are many additional reasons why seeing a dentist before surgery is a good idea. One such reason is to help prevent the onset of infective endocarditis – an infection of the inner tissues of the heart. Bacteria known to cause this infection may be present in your mouth and, if left untreated, could travel through your bloodstream to the surgery site.

Your dentist will also need to know what surgery is being performed and what medication you may be taking so that they can help create an oral care plan for you. Some side effects may include weakened or bleeding gums, so your dentist will want to prepare you for that.

If you need a dental check-up before your upcoming surgery, schedule with our Long Beach dental office and meet with our team today. Call us at 562-434-6414.

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Keep Your Teeth Healthy This Holiday Season by Monitoring These Foods

We’re in the middle of holiday season already, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t stop to think about your oral health.

However, we understand that this may not be the time you want to devote to thinking about health. After all, this season is all about giving, both to others and to yourself. It’s a time to indulge in the things we normally wouldn’t throughout the year, like cookies, candies, and eggnog.

Taking care of your oral health does not mean you can’t consume these goodies this season, or ever. Like everything in life, moderation is key, and just simply being aware of the foods you should moderate will make caring for your teeth a whole lot easier in the near future.

Here are some foods that dentists and dental hygienists recommend that you keep an eye on:

  1. Alcohol, like in eggnog or wine
    It’s easy to drink more alcoholic beverages this season, between the parties, family gatherings, and general holiday cheer (or stress). But alcoholic drinks aren’t only damaging to your body, they can also wreak havoc on your teeth.

    Red wine can stain your enamel, and its acidity can also weaken it. You may have read reports that red wine is good for your health, but again, in moderation! Consider brushing your teeth after a glass or two of red wine.

    Additionally, alcohol can cause dry mouth, which isn’t good for saliva creation. This could lead to tooth decay and gum diseases. The sugars in alcoholic drinks are also bad for your teeth, so take care with your intake!

  2. Candies, especially candy cane
    These sweet treats may taste delicious, but their high sugar content is rough for your teeth and can cause cavities. What’s more, the hard texture of popular sweets like candy canes aren’t good for keeping your teeth healthy.

    A candy cane here and there is probably fine, especially if you already have good, strong teeth, but the intense crunch can potentially weaken your enamel and cause a tooth fracture, and the little pieces it breaks into may scratch the inside of your mouth, like your gums.

  3. Hot chocolate
    The cold season is a popular time to heat up a mug of steaming hot chocolate and sip it by the fireplace. No doubt it is delicious and maybe even relaxing.

    However, consider keeping your consumption of chocolate to a minimum, as the sugar content in those instant hot chocolate packs can be quite high. Try something different this season, and go for a darker cocoa with low sugar content, which is better for your overall and oral health.

  4. Cranberry sauce
    Homemade cranberry sauce can be absolutely delicious, and it makes a great topping for a lot of different foods like turkey or ham.

    But, be wary of popular cranberry sauce recipes or canned sauce as, of course, the sugar content can be very high. Try making your own without using as much sugar, and if the recipe calls for citrus zest or juice, try using less of that too. Citric acid, if it has the chance to sit on your teeth for a while, can erode enamel over time.

The key to enjoying holiday foods is to monitor your eating habits, but also keep your good oral cleaning habits, too. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day, 2 minutes at a time, and use floss at least once a day. A lot of foods can sneak in between your teeth, especially those delicious sauces like gravy and molasses.

We recommend getting a deep clean or fluoride treatment before the onset of holiday eating, and after to maintain, or maybe even enhance, your oral health. And while you’re with your dental hygienist, ask them for advice on keeping your teeth healthy through the season.

Our Long Beach, CA dental office has helped hundreds of patients and their families maintain good health and achieve amazing smiles. Come in and let us help you take care of your teeth. Book online today, or call us at 562-434-6414.

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How Do I Convince My Teen to Go to the Dentist?

Raising kids is hard. But as any parent of teens will tell you, raising teenagers is especially difficult! It’s already hard enough to convince them to do their chores and homework, much less care about their oral health. According to the CDC, about 1 of every 5 children under the age of 19 have untreated dental cavities. It’s also estimated that about 40% of teens do not brush their teeth the recommended twice per day.

Going to the dentist as a child is important, and for teenagers, it’s an especially important time for their teeth. The care and maintenance habits they create now will help them as adults.

So, how do you convince your teenager to care about their teeth and go to the dentist? Here are some of our suggestions…

  1. First, YOU have to care about YOUR teeth.
    Parents love to say “Do as I say, not as I do.” Truth be told, children learn the habits of the people that raise them, so if you visit the dentist often and take care of your teeth at home, then that lesson is ingrained in your children at an early age.
  2. Start taking them to the dentist at a young age.
    As soon as a child gets their first tooth, pediatric dentists recommend that you take your child to their first dental appointment. If you keep that routine of visiting your family dentist as they grow up, then the child will grow accustomed to it. Even better if you go to the same dentist who provides quality care for you and your family.
  3. Help make oral hygiene fun or rewarding for them.
    Even if they say they aren’t kids anymore, teens still like to have fun, and like to be rewarded for doing something they’re supposed to do. At an early age, teach your kids that teeth cleaning is fun. As they grow up, they’ll find other things interesting. Help them decorate their bathroom that keeps their interest, like including a Bluetooth speaker so they can play music or putting up posters of their favorite bands.
  4. Explain to them in detail the consequences of bad oral hygiene.
    While appearances aren’t everything, teenagers put a lot of value in their look and in how others perceive them. You can let them know that their teeth and smile is a big part of that. However, take them through the health issues of bad oral hygiene as well. Show them pictures of mouths afflicted by gum disease, plaque buildup, etc. so they can see what may happen if they do not see their dentist. Having periodontal issues can have a negative effect on their quality of life.
  5. Work with the school or PTA to include dental care programs.
    If teens see that other teens care about something, then they will likely follow suit. And the best place to gather a big group is at their schools, or even at extracurriculars. Talk to your peers and see what creative ideas you can come up with to get your children to care more about their oral hygiene and what’s working for them.

Dr. Stephen Coates is a trusted family dentist with a dental staff who has been servicing families in and around the Long Beach area. Book your appointment with us today online, or by calling us at 562-434-6414.

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What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer


Oral cancer, sometimes referred to as mouth cancer, refers to cancerous cells that develop in any part of the mouth. This includes the lips, cheeks, tongue, gums, and the roof and floor of the mouth. According to the nonprofit Oral Cancer Foundation, it is estimated that 132 new individuals are diagnosed with oral cancer every day. Like other cancers, early detection and treatment are key to surviving this disease.

Oral cancer is categorized by a group of cancers called head and neck cancer. Patients will often be referred to an Ear-Nose-and-Throat (ENT) Doctor or an otolaryngologist for specialized care and examination.

However, your dentist should actually be your first contact if you think you’re showing signs or symptoms of mouth cancer. A dentist can look for signs of other infections, and will be able to refer you to an ENT specialist when it is necessary.

Common signs of mouth cancer include:

  • Unexplained pain, bleeding, or numbness in the mouth or neck
  • Persistent swelling, lumps, or sores in the mouth that take too long to heal
  • Jaw pain or stiffness, difficulty chewing or eating
  • Difficulty swallowing or unexplained pain the throat
  • Unexplained teeth shifting
  • Ear pain but no ear infection

Some common symptoms of oral cancer may look a lot like other oral infections and periodontal diseases. It’s important to see your dentist before making any assumptions.

Almost anyone is at risk for oral cancer, but there are things you can avoid to lower your chances of getting it:

  • Stop smoking: Research shows that tobacco use and even vaping increases your risk of getting cancer.
  • Limit alcohol intake: Studies have determined a strong link between drinking alcohol and being diagnosed with cancer.
  • Get tested for the human papillomavirus: HPV is a known risk factor.
  • Limit sun exposure: Your lips tend to get hit by UV rays often, so consider wearing lip balm with sun protection.
  • See your dentist often: It’s important to catch cancer at an early stage in order to effectively treat it, so make regular appointments with your dentist who can monitor your symptoms and look for early signs of the disease.

Book your appointment with our Long Beach dentistry today and get more information about prevention and treatment of oral cancer and other periodontal diseases. Use our online system here or call us at 562-434-6414. Dr. Coates and his team look are dedicated to your health & beauty!

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Why You Grind Your Teeth and How to Stop

If you wake up with a headache accompanied by pain in or around your mouth, you could be grinding your teeth at night.

Bruxism is the involuntary and habitual clenching or grinding of your teeth in your sleep, and it’s a common issue in many people regardless of age. Sometimes, a little bit of teeth-clenching may not be problematic, but if the issue isn’t addressed, it can lead to other oral issues in addition to the painful symptoms like headaches, earaches, disrupted sleep, and more.

Grinding your teeth at night could also be symptomatic of bigger issues, like TMJ disorder (Tempro-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction), which affects how your jaw functions, or it can be a sign of an airway issue.

People who suffer from TMJ disorder have trouble biting and even simply opening and closing their mouths can be difficult. The reason why you might have TMJ varies and is sometimes hard to determine, but most people with it will experience some kind of teeth grinding, causing more issues.

If there is restriction in your airway it can trigger clenching and grinding as a way to activate the muscles of the head and neck to help open and stabilize the airway.  If a child is grinding their teeth you need to see a dentist and/or physician familiar with pediatric airway development.

Bruxism can cause tooth decay and breakage

The most common reason you’d want to address your teeth grinding is that over time, the constant friction can wear down your enamel. You can fracture or break your teeth, which can also affect your appearance and overall oral health.

You can receive dental procedures like dental crowns and bridges to fix fractured teeth, but prevention is definitely the best course of action in this case.

How do I stop grinding my teeth?

If you’re already experiencing some pain and visible damage to your teeth, you should visit your dentist right away.

In the meantime, you can wear mouthguards while you sleep to protect your teeth from the grinding. Our Long Beach dental office can also provide custom mouthguards for optimal fit and protection.

Why you might be grinding your teeth varies from person to person, but stress is often a contributing factor for bruxism. Find ways to relieve stress, like meditation or drinking tea, and be sure to not drink alcohol or caffeine right before bed.

As mentioned earlier, airway issues can trigger it so being assessed by a dentist familiar with airway development can help give you possible solutions that can treat airway, etc.

Your dentist can work with you on ways to protect yourself from teeth grinding, as well as the best course of action to fix the damaged teeth you might have because of it.

Dr. Stephen Coates has extensive training in these topics so book your dental appointment with our Long Beach office today using our online system, or by calling 562-434-6414.

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Do You Have Trouble Eating Due to a Broken Tooth?

The holidays are just around the corner, and you know what that means — plenty of food to be cooked and eaten!

But, if you’ve been dealing with a broken or decaying tooth, then eating may have become cumbersome to you. You’re probably thinking you won’t be able to enjoy that warm, delicious stuffing with croutons, or the readily available bowl of chips to snack on.

Don’t let a damaged tooth stop you from eating what you want. In just a matter of days, a dental crown or a cap can help you enjoy the food you’ve been avoiding all this time. Crowns are an easy procedure for you and the dentist, and they take very little time.

What is a dental crown?

A crown, or a cap, is a custom-made hard covering that encases your entire tooth, restoring it to the original shape and size. Crowns are typically made of porcelain, due to its affordability, durability, reliability, and the fact that it looks natural with a color that matches the rest of your teeth.

To create the dental crown, your dentist will scan your mouth to help create the right shape for fit and appearance. Then, a mold will be created to for a temporary crown that you can wear until your permanent one is made.

Not only do dental caps help you take a bite out of your favorite foods again, but they also restore your smile. Eating and smiling without worry will increase your confidence, helping you lead a happier, healthier life!

Do I need a crown?

For many patients, the dental staff will do everything they can to restore your teeth naturally. But often times, restorations like dental crowns are necessary. Your dentist will work with you to determine the best procedure for your case.

Schedule your dental appointment today and see what options are available for you and your dental insurance. Book online now, or call our Long Beach dental office at 562-434-6414.

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Snoring Children and Sleep Apnea

A snoring child seems hardly a cause for concern. Maybe you think that it could just be the way their head is positioned, so you just try changing their pillow or moving their head to see if that makes a difference.

Snoring for ANY child is a signal that something is wrong with their airway and you should be very concerned. Other remedies you can try include nasal strips or a dietary change. Check to see if your child has a cold or fever, in which case you’ll need to clear their sinuses with medication or nasal spray, or using a bulb syringe — sometimes called a nasal aspirator. These are usually located in the infant aisle of retail stores.

But what if all of that doesn’t work? What if your child’s snoring seems to be a chronic condition? Before you head over to WebMD or self-diagnose using search engine results, we recommend going to your family dentist who is trained in looking for signs and symptoms of sleep breathing disorders so that you can get a professional opinion.

Your oral health and condition can influence how you sleep, including whether snoring may occur. Sleep apnea, or sometimes called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), is a condition that affects millions of Americans, young and old. OSA is defined as intermittent airflow blockage during sleep, which is treatable but sometimes a sign of greater health issues. Because of this, professional diagnosis and treatment is recommended. Additionally, there is another sleep disordered breathing condition called upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS), which is when the airway may not necessarily close off but can become so small that the body just can’t get enough oxygen to properly function.

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, it’s estimated that 1 in 4 children have some kind of pediatric sleep disorder. They’ve also determined that about 25% of children diagnosed with ADHD have symptoms of OSA, in which their irregular sleeping patterns may lay the foundation for their learning disabilities and their inability to focus for long periods of time.

To test whether your child has OSA or UARS, a dentist may employ a screening test to diagnose the issue. The test is safe and non-intrusive, and will provide your family and the dentist with the information they need to work with a pediatric sleep physician and craft a custom treatment plan to address potential pediatric sleep disordered breathing.

To learn more about how the diagnosis works, getting options for treatment, or for more information on sleep apnea, you can read our blog post here. We also encourage you to schedule an appointment with your dentist to receive customized help and planning!

Book your next check-up or appointment with our Long Beach dental office using our online system here, or by calling us at 562-434-6414.

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How a Smile Can Enhance Your Love Life?

“Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

Mother Teresa

We smile a lot throughout the day, often not even noticing when or why we do. It costs nothing to smile, but yet the returns are amazing!

According to hundreds of studies and research, smiling is in fact contagious — and for good reason. Not only does smiling have great benefits for you and your health, it also spreads positivity to others. It tells people that you’re a warm and approachable person, and one of the most basic needs we have is to feel safe and comfortable wherever we are.

And that warmness is only the beginning of love. A person’s smile has been recorded as one of the top attractive traits in a person. If smiling is so powerful at the beginning of a relationship, imagine its power throughout one. It brings warmth, comfort, agreeability… all very important elements to a strong relationship. When you smile, you’re happy, your partner is happy, and everyone around you feels and responds to that.

Achieving a better, more attractive smile is not hard to do. The more time you invest in creating a better smile for yourself, the more you’ll receive in the long run! Happiness leads to better relationships with family and friends, more income at work, and more self-confidence.

Here are some ways you can achieve a better smile:

  • Whitening your teeth: Whiter teeth means a brighter smile. It stands out more, and also subconsciously signals your good oral health to others. There are plenty of over-the-counter products that promise whiter teeth, but the best route is to go into your dentist’s office for a professional teeth cleaning and whitening procedure.
  • Proper hygiene for good breath and healthy gums: Having a daily routine to clean your teeth and gums is important for good-looking teeth. Red and swollen gums due to poor hygiene can cause you to smile less, and having bad breath doesn’t help either. Brush often, use mouthwash, and floss daily to keep periodontal disease at bay.
  • Teeth straightening: Thanks to modern science and the advancements of technology, having straighter teeth is easier than ever. More adults today can afford braces, and veneers have become more affordable and effective.

What options are available for you?

Not sure what procedures you need for a better smile — and want to know more about what your insurance can do for your dental health? Schedule an appointment with our Long Beach dental office today, and speak with Dr. Stephen Coates about how you can achieve a better smile.

You can book using our online system, or call our dentistry at 562-434-6414.

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