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Healthier Alternatives for Trick-or-Treating Time


It’s hard to not be tempted this time of the year, when the grocery aisles are lined with the most decadent looking sweets. That mix of nostalgia and dopamine hits a little hard.

But, as we know, these sweets come with consequences: sugar, carbs, and, well, other ingredients we aren’t entirely sure are good for us. However, for now, we’ll focus on the ones we DO know aren’t good for us.

While you may not want to be known as the house that gives away “lame” candy on Halloween night, you can at least push for slightly better and healthier alternatives for your family. And, who knows, maybe the other parents will actually appreciate that you’re looking out for everyone in your community!

Here are some fun edible options for a healthier Halloween:

  • Boxes of raisins
  • Sugar-free juice boxes
  • Small bags of nuts
  • Sugar-free gum
  • Snack-sized pretzels
  • Pumpkin or sunflower seed packs
  • Mini granola bars

And who says that you can’t pass out something other than snacks? Try these fun gifts for trick-or-treating!

  • Stickers
  • Party favor toys
  • Mini flashlights (great to use during trick-or-treating, too!)
  • School supplies, like erasers or pencils
  • Floss picks
  • Toothbrushes
  • Bracelet glowsticks

A lot of these items you can find for pretty cheap in bulk at places like Party City or Amazon!

It’s time to plan to clean your family’s teeth after all that trick-or-treating. Come in for your regular checkup and cleaning after the Halloween season and take advantage of your insurance’s dental benefits before they expire at the end of the year.

Call our Long Beach dental office at 562-434-6414 or send in an appointment request here.

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How to Tame Those Sugar Cravings

We all love a little sugar now and then, especially this time of the year! But it’s important to know the cost we pay for eating sugary foods and drinks. First off, the sugar we eat is purely a simple carb that doesn’t offer anything in the way of nutrients. It also slowly breaks down the protective enamel on your teeth causing tooth decay

If you are one of the many that reach for sugar throughout the day, you may find that it does provide a quick energy boost. But you’ll also notice that it leaves you wanting more and sometimes sluggish later in the day.

What Causes the Cravings?

Carbs release serotonin in the brain when we eat those sweets. The endorphins provide a natural high and sugary sweets are just so tasty. And it’s okay to indulge from time to time. The problem arises when we go overboard.

With the holiday season just around the corner, here are some helpful tips for controlling your sugar cravings.

Ways to Calm Your Sweet Tooth & Fight Sugar Cravings

  • Treat yourself – in moderation. Just take a small portion of the sweet stuff and keep it under 150 calories of sweets.
  • Mix it up! Have a healthy treat with a little sweetness. Strawberries dipped in a touch of chocolate could be enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • Chew a stick of gum. Choose sugar-free gum to reduce your sugar cravings.
  • Have a little fruit at the ready. These healthy snacks contain natural sugar, and they could be enough to curb your cravings
  • Walk it off! A nice walk around the block or through the park could get the craving off your mind.
  • Make a different drink choice. Leave the soft drinks alone and opt for sparkling water.
  • Be prepared. Always have healthy snacks and your prepared lunch with you so you’re never searching for a snack at the last minute.
  • Hydrate! Drinking water helps with weight loss and digestive health. It also helps to rinse your teeth. When you choose tap water, you’re also getting the fluoride you need to strengthen tooth enamel.
  • Eat a good meal. Make sure you’re eating protein-rich foods to keep your hunger at bay.
  • Rid your home of temptations. Throw out the junk foods and replace them with healthy options.
  • Try sugar-fasting. Make a commitment to abstain from sugar for at least a day. Next, try a few days. And continue to lengthen the amount of time you fast from sugar. You may find that each sugar-fast becomes easier as time goes on!
  • Caring for Your Teeth after Partaking in Sweets

    If you decide to take a little taste of the sweets, follow these tips to take care of your teeth right after:

    • Rinse your mouth with water and an elevated pH rinse
    • Wait 30 minutes to brush your teeth
    • Chew xylitol gum to avoid bacteria

    While it may be hard, it’s possible to curb the sugar habit. Follow the tips above and only eat sweet foods and drinks in moderation.

    To keep your smile bright and healthy, keep seeing your dentist regularly. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Stephen A. Coats, DDS today. He and his Long Beach dental team are passionate about patients and their oral health. We are ready to help you with exams, cleanings, and more advanced procedures.

    Click here to request an appointment time, or call us at 562-434-6414.

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How to Choose Between Porcelain Veneers and Braces

If you are looking for straighter teeth, you have a few options. You can opt for either braces or porcelain veneers, two different products which offer distinct pros and cons for your mouth. Both of these choices will straighten your teeth and offer permanent solutions to crooked smiles, and each have their own advantages and limitations. Here’s a brief guide to porcelain veneers and braces.

About Braces

Dental braces are tools used by dentists. They work by shifting teeth over a prolonged period of time. They’re used to straighten teeth and fix awkward or abnormal bites in patients. Each individual will spend a different amount of time in braces, but, on average, patients spend between one and three years in braces to truly fix their teeth’s misalignment.

Braces use either brackets which are attached to the front of teeth along with steel bands or clear aligners systems. Wires are used to guide tooth movement and small elastic bands are also attached to the brackets. Clear aligners are removable and are changed out with new ones every 1-2 weeks.

Pros and Cons of Braces

One of the great things about braces is that they’re non-invasive, meaning they leave teeth intact and can straighten your smile without too much active work from your doctor. Braces also help align your teeth, which can mitigate a number of negative consequences when you’re older, such as tension headaches, inflammation, earaches, and neck pain.

The nerves of teeth or closely entwined with the brain, so toothaches and other problems can often cause pain in the head. While braces are incredibly effective, some people may balk at the treatment time, which is anywhere from one to three years on average.

Retainers are also often used to ensure teeth don’t move after the braces come off. Retainers are usually worn for several months after the removal of braces.

About Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers, a tool which has gained immense popularity in the last several years, are thin, custom shells of toothy material designed to sit and cover the front of teeth and improve their appearance. Porcelain veneers in particular are designed to prevent stains and be as invisible and unnoticeable as possible, as they mimic the reflective light coming onto the teeth.

Porcelain veneers are often used when people wish to fix discolored teeth, broken teeth, worn down teeth, chipped teeth, or teeth which have irregular gaps in between them.

Pros and Cons of Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers can easily and quickly improve your teeth’s alignment and the position in which your teeth sit in your mouth. In addition, it takes only a few visits to your dentist to fit the veneer, which is often stain resistant and resistant to discoloration as well, meaning many people won’t even know you’re wearing a veneer.

Though porcelain veneers solve a litany of issues related to your teeth, they are permanent. Enamel must be removed to make room for the thick veneers, which means once you commit to a veneer, there’s no going back. Some veneers are bulkier than others as well, depending on how clustered your teeth are.

Is a Veneer Right for You?

Porcelain veneers can solve many of the same issues as braces while being invisible and resistant to both stains and discoloration, which is why many people are opting for them. If you choose a veneer, your dentist will remove minimal enamel and then make a mold of your teeth for best fit.

He or she will then send the impression to a lab which will make a custom-fit porcelain veneer for you to wear. Keep in mind that veneers are not always the best option and that you should consult with your dentist if you’re thinking about using a veneer.

Dr. Stephen Coates and his dental team in Long Beach are ready to help you decide which method may be best for you. If you’re ready to get started on your smile journey, give us a call at 562-434-6414 or request an appointment time here.

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What Alcohol Does to Your Oral Health

Many partake in the occasional cocktail on special occasions. But for those who drink alcohol on a more regular basis, they can suffer from several short-term and long-term health problems. While most people know the damage that alcohol can wreak on your liver, we don’t think about what happens in our mouth when we drink alcohol. Alcohol is a risk factor for oral and other cancers.

Here we share the effects that alcohol can have on the oral health of even moderate drinkers.

What is Moderate and Heavy Drinking

The CDC defines moderate alcohol consumption as one drink each day for women and two drinks per day for men.  Heavy drinking is defined as more than eight drinks per week for women and 15 or more for men.

How Alcohol Affects the Body

While you can drink moderately and still lead a healthy lifestyle, it will affect your gums, oral tissues, and your teeth.

Dry Mouth

The production of saliva that keeps your mouth clean by washing away harmful acids slows down causing dehydration, plaque buildup, and permanent tooth loss. When your mouth is dry you can develop periodontitis. Those with this condition suffer from gum bleeding and recession, infections in the mouth. Reduced saliva can also cause halitosis or bad breath.

If you would like to enjoy a drink, make sure you sip water to help to replenish saliva. After you drink brush your teeth and use mouthwash to get rid of the sugar that attracts bacteria.

Stained Teeth

The chromogens in the colors of alcohol contain acid. They attach to the enamel of the tooth and stain them. For beer drinkers the acidic dark barley stains the teeth. Drinking with a straw can help to minimize this. When you enjoy wine or mixed drinks the dark sodas also contain a large amount of sugar and stain the teeth.

Oral Cancer

Cancerous cells that spread on the lining of your lips, cheeks, gums, teeth, tongue, and oral cavity cause oral cancer. Acetaldehyde that the alcohol turns into when it enters your body damages DNA and stops your cells from repairing any damage.  It is important that it is detected early and treated as soon as possible. Regular dental visits can help you detect cancer giving you a better chance to fight the disease.

Other Items in Your Drink that Can Affect Your Oral Health

  • The ice in your drink, if chewed, can break the teeth.
  • Citrus included in your drinks can erode the enamel.

Follow These Tips to Keep Your Mouth Healthy

  • Drink in moderation. If you need to get help by speaking with a medical professional
  • Drink water to wash away food, sugar, and acids.
  • Brush and floss your teeth daily.
  • Keep your regular dental appointments to reduce tartar and plaque buildup.

Alcohol consumption can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, oral cancer, dry mouth, and the tendency to neglect your oral health and miss dental visits. We are dedicated to educating our patients about a healthy lifestyle to maintain oral health. If you’re experiencing gum pain, bleeding, or tooth decay, make an appointment today for a consultation. We can help you get on the road to better oral health.

Our Long Beach dental team is accepting new patients, and we eagerly await your call! Book with us now at 562-434-6414, or use this link to request an appointment online.

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How Do Energy Drinks Affect Our Oral Health?

For some of us, coffee and tea aren’t what we choose to start our days with. Some don’t enjoy the taste of a morning cup of joe and for others, having to wait a few minutes to steep their tea is an unappealing addition to their morning routine. For those who still need a morning caffeine boost, an energy drink may seem like the best option.

What you usually hear about energy drinks is that the ingredients are anything but healthy. Have you ever really dived into why? Or, have you ever considered what opening a can of Red Bull could do to your oral health?

When we hear things don’t qualify as being healthy, our first thought tends to be concerned for our internal health, rather than our oral health. But drinking an energy drink does have a lasting effect on your smile, and whether or not you should reach for that Red Bull is a consideration that is worth weighing.

How do energy drinks affect your oral health? 

High acidity level

Energy drinks are known to have a high acidity level and a very low pH level. Anything that has this runs the risk of stripping the enamel on our teeth which can leave behind irreversible damage. Drinking an entire energy drink is like soaking your teeth in this harmful, highly acidic substance. Consistent acidic exposure predisposes your teeth to cavities and without treatment, you can experience tooth decay. The high acidity thins out the enamel on your teeth and when your tooth enamel is damaged, it’s something that cannot be fixed.

Sugar content

While there are varying levels of sugar content in a single energy drink, most have at least 27 grams of sugar! And a high sugar content directly correlates to the risk of cavities. The bacteria in our mouth eat sugar and when this happens, the result is an acidic substance. As noted above, with prolonged acid exposure to the enamel, the outer surface of our teeth begins to weaken and can eventually cause a cavity or even worse, decay.

High caffeine level

Because energy drinks deliver a concentrated amount of caffeine in a short amount of time, people may feel hyper-energized and they could potentially grind their teeth. We all have encountered someone who grinds their teeth at night, and we have likely all heard how that isn’t good for your teeth. If caffeine is now causing this in the daytime, you run those same risks of possible tooth breakage or even tooth loss in extremely severe cases of teeth grinding.

If you drink energy drinks, what are some hygiene tips for your teeth you can implement throughout the day?

Despite the risks of knowing that even one energy drink a day can be harmful, some will still reach for a can. If that’s the case, the best thing you can do is to rinse your mouth with water as soon as you take your last sip. After you rinse, wait at least thirty minutes before you brush your teeth.

Visit Dr. Stephen Coates’ office regularly for a professional cleaning and during each visit, we’ll be sure to take care of your smile. Our experienced dental team can provide pointers for at-home oral care. Give us a call to book your appointment at 562-434-6414 or use this link to request an appointment.

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What to Know About Inlay Restorations Versus Traditional Fillings

If your dentist or dental hygienist finds tooth decay or other damage in your mouth that requires restoration, you may wonder what kind of covering will go over your tooth once the damage is repaired. A dental inlay is an excellent option. Let’s go over what inlay restoration is and what sets it apart from other tooth restorations.

What is an Inlay Restoration?

An inlay restoration is a custom-made filling that goes into the grooves of your tooth in question. Inlay restorations are most commonly used as restoration for large fillings or fractured fillings, broken or fractured teeth, decayed teeth, and as a cosmetic enhancement.

An inlay restoration is a pretty simple process. Your dentist will numb the damaged area and then drill into the affected tooth in order to clean out decay. Once it is cleaned, the dentist will take an impression of the top crevice area of the affected tooth and send it to a lab. Then, a dental inlay will be created out of composite material, gold, or tooth-colored porcelain. The inlay will provide near invisible dental restoration.

Dental inlays are much more durable than regular fillings. The material that inlays are made of also comes with significant benefits compared to traditional filings. According to the Journal of Dental Health, Oral Disorders & Therapy, metal fillings can actually weaken tooth strength by as much as 50%. On the other hand, Inlays and made of porcelain and composite materials can increase tooth strength up to 75% and last between ten and 30 years.

If you think you may be a good candidate for an inlay restoration, or you’d like to talk more about the procedure, contact your local dentist.

Need a dental in the Long Beach, CA area? Dr. Stephen Coates and his dental team are ready to help! Call us now to book an appointment at 562-434-6414 or request an appointment here.

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Caring For Your Oral Health During Busy School Mornings

Preventing cavities is as simple as removing the plaque using fluoride toothpaste. We all know that we should make sure our kids brush their teeth twice a day, but when exactly does this fit best in their morning routine? Is it better for them to brush before or after eating their nutritious breakfast?

Experts have differing opinions. Some say that brushing before eating is better for tooth enamel. Others claim that brushing after breakfast is okay when following some simple guidelines. Here we discuss when your kids should brush their teeth in the morning.

When To Brush

Those who believe that teeth should be brushed before breakfast rely on the fact that while sleeping plaque-causing bacteria build up. When sleeping, their mouths dry out making the perfect atmosphere for them to breed.  Giving their teeth a coat of protection against acids in food can help to protect their enamel.

It’s also a great way to get your saliva production going.  When they sleep, saliva production slows to just 10 to 15% of the regular capacity. The saliva in their mouths protects against decay and infection.  Brushing first thing is also great if they hate morning breath.

If your kids are brushing after eating breakfast due to the toothpaste taste, it’s not the end of the world. But there are some tips to follow. Orange juice, citrus fruits, bread, and pasties can weaken tooth enamel. So, they should wait at least half an hour after eating breakfast to brush their teeth. Before they brush make sure they drink a glass of water or chew sugar-free gum.

Frequency of Brushing is Most Important

Choosing to brush before or after is important, but the most important thing is that they brush their teeth at least twice a day.

How to Properly Brush Your Teeth

No matter when they choose to brush, make sure they are doing it properly. This is how brushing should be done:

  • Wet the brush with water and add a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
  • Brush at a 45-degree angle to get the hard-to-reach spots. Brush the front, sides, and chewing surface.
  • Brush from where the tooth and gum meet to the chewing surface.
  • Use short sweeping strokes, angling the bristles into the crevices.
  • Brush the tongue to get rid of any bacteria deposited while brushing the teeth.
  • Brush for at least two minutes. Use an egg timer or an hourglass to ensure to let them know when that time is up.
  • Spit and rinse the mouth with water
  • Floss to get the spaces between the teeth.
  • And rinse the mouth once again.

Protecting the enamel of your child’s teeth is important to avoid the pain of infections and tooth decay. It also saves you money in dental care. No matter when you brush, before or after eating, it’s important to brush every morning for two minutes to remove bacteria and plaque. Choose whatever works best for your kids. In addition to taking care of their teeth at home, make sure they regularly visit their dentist for regular cleanings and maintenance.

Schedule your family’s next dental cleaning and exam with us, at the dental office of Dr. Stephen Coates in Long Beach. Call us at 562-434-6414 or request an appointment using this link here.

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What to Do for National Fresh Breath Day

This August 6th is National Fresh Breath Day! Celebrate by showing off your pearly whites. Keeping your mouth clean and oral hygiene up to date is crucial to having fresh smelling breath. No one wants to be known for having bad breath!

We have listed multiple ways that will guarantee your breath smelling minty clean.

How To Keep Your Breath Fresh

  • Brush and Floss: One of the most important things to do every day is brush your teeth. Using a manual toothbrush or even better an electric toothbrush, two times a day will keep your breath fresh. It is recommended to floss every night because your toothbrush cannot reach hard spots in between your teeth. Make sure to add brushing and flossing to your everyday routine.
  • Booking Dentist Appointments: Seeing your dental care team is essential to making sure everything is perfect in your mouth. Getting a professional deep cleaning removes more buildup than normal, at-home care does.
  • Replace your Toothbrush: Replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months can prevent bacteria from growing on it. Your bristles will also start to break down making it ineffective to get plaque off your teeth. So head over to your local store and pick out your brand new toothbrush!
  • Chew Gum: If you catch yourself with bad breath and brushing your teeth is not possible at the moment, don’t stress. Get yourself some gum! Even breath mints are handy to keep in your purse or wallet when going out. Just be sure to select sugar-free gum to maintain healthy teeth!
  • Clean Your Tongue: Most causes of bad breath is your tongue. If you look in the mirror and see a layer of white over it you might need to invest in a tongue scraper. They are inexpensive and easy to use. Scraping off all that extra bacteria and plaque will extinguish your bad breath overall.
  • Drink Lots of Water: Drinking lots of water will help address your smelly breath. It could also stop acid reflux from happening by keeping your mouth filled with saliva and keep things running smoothly. Saliva helps to stop bacteria from growing. This is both great for your body and mouth.
  • Stop Smoking: Overall, smoking is just as bad for your body as it is for your teeth. Smoking causes a nasty sour smell that gets trapped in your mouth and lungs. Cigarettes cause a dry mouth and increase the chance of bad breath.

Use these simple tasks to make sure you can avoid bad breath at all costs. Make it a daily routine to check to see if your breath is fresh. Maintaining a fresh breath is easy and worth it.

Ready to book your dental cleaning and exam? Book with our Long Beach dental care team by calling 562-434-6414 or by heading here to request an appointment.

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How Avocados Affect Oral Health

Avocados – they’re not just for the millennials. This power food is great for everyone!

The fruit is beneficial for our health, especially our oral health. Avocados are sodium-free, contain no sugar, and no cholesterol. As we approach National Avocado Day on July 31, let’s focus on some of the other benefits of eating this superfood.

Oral Health Benefits of Avocados

The great thing about avocados is that they contain natural phytochemicals. This is due to the dark-colored skin.  These phytonutrients are used by plants to protect against disease and UV rays. They are rich in antioxidants and contain a probiotic bacterium that helps to fight off bad bacteria, protecting your gums from bacterial infection, tooth decay, and bad breath. Added benefits include:

  • Help with oral cancer prevention. They work to prevent precancerous cells in the mouth from turning cancerous.
  • Magnesium – They contain 15% of the recommended daily value of magnesium which fights inflammation, which helps with inflamed gums. The same magnesium can help with the remineralization of your teeth.
  • Folic Acid – With more folic acid than other fruits, avocados help to manage cell division. Folic Acid or Vitamin B9 helps gum tissue fight inflammation and bleeding.
  • Avocados are high in potassium, the vitamin that keeps our bones strong. Also called Vitamin K, it works to regulate body fluids and the removal of waste. It keeps your teeth strong and helps to prevent decay.
  • Nutrient Booster – When we eat avocados, they act as a nutrient booster, helping our bodies to absorb nutrients like vitamins A, D, K, and E.

A Tasty Way to Get Your Avocado Fix: Tasty Avocado Toast

This Food Network recipe takes about 10 minutes to prepare.  Start by getting your ingredients together:

  • One 8oz. ripe avocado that has is halved, pitted and peeled
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • 4 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 1 peeled and halved garlic clove
  • 2 Tablespoons of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil or Softened Unsalted Butter
  • Sea Salt
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Minced garlic

Start by mashing your avocado with a fork until it is chunky.  Season it with salt and black pepper.

Toast your bread to your liking.  Rub one side of your bread with garlic or rub the minced garlic across one side.

Brush your toast with olive oil ad season it with salt and black pepper.

Spread your avocado across your toast, top with sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Enjoy National Avocado Day on July 31st and make sure to add avocados to your diet any day of the year.  To find out more about oral health, tooth decay, and oral cancer we welcome you to make an appointment to discuss your concerns and get the oral care you need.

Call our Long Beach dental care team at 562-434-6414 or request an appointment here.

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Back-to-School Prep Should Include Dental Care!

It may seem like summer just started, but kids will be heading back to school before you know it. Amongst school shopping lists and figuring out what to wear the first day back, it’s also important that you’re staying on top of your kids’ dental health routine. Be sure the whole family is earning top marks with these back-to-school hygiene tips!

As you’re stocking up on other items, like pencils and folders, the new school year is also a good time to pick up new oral hygiene supplies. This includes floss, toothbrushes, mouthwash, and any other dental tools recommended by your family dentist. Be sure that your young ones are keeping their teeth healthy by brushing at least twice a day and flossing once. As a parent, help your kids stick to their oral hygiene schedule by brushing with them and making it a family activity.

While it’s important to encourage daily brushing and flossing, another good way to protect your children’s teeth is with sealants. Sealants are a thin, protective layer that’s applied to the food surfaces of their molars. They help protect their teeth from harmful bacteria and food particles that would otherwise get trapped in the ridges and valleys of their teeth. Since ordinary brushing can’t reach these areas, sealants help reduce the risk of molar cavities by as much as 80%! Talk to your dentist about sealants at your child’s back-to-school appointment to see if it’s right for them.

Finally, the beginning of the school year is a great time to get your young ones in for an orthodontic consult. Typically free, orthodontic consults are a great way to address any concerns you may have about how your children’s teeth are growing in. Orthodontists can address problems like an overcrowded smile and poor bite. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, it’s best to visit an orthodontist around your child’s 7th birthday. At this point, your kid may be too young to be fitted with braces, but it allows the orthodontist to create a personalized care plan for the future.

They will take into consideration the rate of growth and any issues that are unique to your child’s smile. By following these oral health tips, you and your child will have an A+ school year!

Schedule your family’s dental appointments with our experienced and friendly Long Beach dental team. Call us today to book your cleaning and exam at 562-434-6414, or use this form to request an appointment.

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