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Show Your Teeth Some Love This Valentine’s Day

The message might be l-o-v-e on Valentine’s Day but we like to celebrate it with gifts that involve candy, sweets and treats. Americans spend over 340 million dollars on Valentine’s Day candy each year with over 8 billion candy hearts sold within the first 2 weeks of February. That’s a lot of sugar!

Expecting your kids (and yourself!) to avoid sweets this Valentine’s Day is unrealistic, but making healthier choices will help protect your teeth. Here’s a few do’s and don’ts to follow to show your teeth some love this holiday.

DO: Enjoy healthy, heart-shaped snacks.

Get in the spirit of Valentine’s Day the healthy way and even have some fun by ditching the usual sweets. A few ideas for kid (and adult) friendly snacks:

  • Dark chocolate-dipped fruit on a stick: Bananas, pineapple, cherries, strawberries, etc.
  • Heart-shaped strawberries
  • Sweetheart yogurt parfaits
  • Heart-shaped stacked sandwiches
  • Heart-shaped pancakes
  • Raspberries filled with mini dark chocolate chips
  • Mini heart-shaped pizzas
  • Grilled, heart-shaped mozzarella and tomato sandwiches

Want to take it up a notch? Check out these creative and nutritious Valentine’s Day treat ideas:

DON’T: Choose sticky, hard candies or low-quality chocolate

All those sweet, sour and sticky candies may taste great, but these treats are known to damage teeth. Sour candies can be acidic to your teeth and actually wear down the enamel that protects them, leading to tooth decay and cavities. The worst offenders include gummy bears, jelly beans, tootsie rolls and lollipops.

DO:  Limit the sweets.

If you are going to indulge in sweets, your best bet is chocolate. Choose a high-quality brand that is 50% or more cocoa which has a higher purity level and is free from the additives that do the most damage to your teeth. Opt for softer treats such as peanut butter cups or bakery items.

DON’T: Forget to brush & floss!

After enjoying sweets, make sure to show your teeth some tender loving care. Brush and floss between your teeth, around the brackets and at the gum line. Don’t forget that your tongue carries bacteria as well and needs to be brushed from the back to the front and bottom to top!

You CAN have a “sweet” Valentine’s Day while still keeping your oral health in mind. Try one of our healthier snack ideas above and make this a February 14th that you won’t forget!

Give your teeth the best Valentine’s Day gift of all and call our office at (562) 434-6414 to schedule your bi-annual checkup!

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New Years Resolutions For Your Teeth

We all make new year’s resolutions, but many of us are not likely to follow through. Turning over a new leaf in the New Year can be tricky, but finding a way to stick with it is important when that new leaf benefits your health. If you want to take better care when looking after your teeth and gums this year, these resolutions can keep you diligent:

Visit the Dentist Twice a Year

A resolution to make routine visits to the dentist may help prevent oral disease or reveal an existing disease in its early stage. Dental visits should take place every 6 months to allow your dentist and dental hygienists to monitor the condition of your oral cavity and develop an appropriate treatment plan to meet your wants and needs.

Commit to Brushing & Flossing Twice a Day

Brushing and flossing protect your teeth from decay and gum disease, which is caused by your teeth’s most persistent enemy, plaque – a sticky, colorless, invisible film of harmful bacteria that builds up on your teeth every day. Both brushing and flossing are equally important for good oral health. Only flossing can remove plaque from between teeth and below the gum line, where decay and gum disease often begins. Without proper brushing and flossing, you may develop bleeding gums, which may worsen to severely swollen, red, bleeding gums (gingivitis) and, eventually, gum disease. Because diseases of the mouth can affect the rest of your body, it is especially important to maintain good oral health. Remember to floss first & brush second!

Kick the Habit

Quitting cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use is important for improving your oral and overall health. There is no better time than the present to make a resolution to stop tobacco use. Consider free online tools, smoking cessation groups, progress-tracking apps and support from friends and family to assist you with tobacco cessation.

Eat More Mouth-Health Foods

Eating well is important for your dental health. Poor nutrition can affect the entire immune system, increasing susceptibility to many common oral disorders, including gum (periodontal) disease. Antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts improve your body’s ability to fight bacteria and inflammation, helping to protect your teeth and gums. In addition, crisp fruits and raw vegetables like apples, carrots and celery help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath.

Make Smarter Beverage Choices

Frequent consumption of beverages containing carbohydrates and carbonation, like soda, contributes to tooth decay. Limit your soda intake and always brush your teeth after drinking sugary or carbonated drinks.

Improve Your Smile

There are several smile-improving techniques that you can use while you brush and floss. In recent years, tooth whitening has acquired enormous popularity. It enhances the appearance of teeth by removing deep (intrinsic) or surface (extrinsic) stains. There are a number of tooth whitening products that can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC) for at-home use and higher performance products administered by a dentist or dispensed by a dentist for at-home use.

And finally, SMILE more! It has been scientifically proven that a simple smile can boost our moods, relieve stress, and even strengthen our immune system!

Stick to your New Year’s Resolutions and give us a call our office at (562) 434-6414 to schedule your bi-annual checkup!

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Your Guide to Healing Canker Sores Naturally

canker-soersCanker sores (aphthous ulcers) are gray or white lesions that develop only inside the mouth on the cheeks, inner lips, tongue, or throat. Not to be confused with cold sores, which develop on the outside of the mouth or lip area and very specific parts of the mouth. The cause of canker sores is still unknown today, however they are believed to be caused by an overreaction of the immune system to a type of localized irritant. They can appear after times of high stress or in some cases after injury or irritation to the area. There are several steps you can take to heal these pesky irritants, and a few things you can try to prevent them from coming back.

Coconut oil has a plethora of uses these days from cooking, to beauty, and now canker sores. It contains anti-inflammatory agents that help to shrink the infected tissues allowing them to heal faster. The oil also contains anti-microbial agents that help with cell repair and boost the immune system. Not only can you use coconut oil as a topical treatment, but oil pulling has also been found to help prevent the reoccurrence of canker sores.

Oil pulling works by taking a table spoon of organic raw extra virgin coconut oil and swishing it around in your mouth for a period of 2-15 minutes. Once you’ve completed the rinse, spit the oil into the trash. Be careful not to drink the oil as it can cause you to become nauseous. This process has been found to draw out bad bacteria and toxins from the gums and salivary glands, which helps to prevent future canker sores from coming back.

Yogurt is another powerful natural aid to help battle canker sores. Made from a fermentation process that converts bacteria or yeast into organic acids, yogurt has good bacterias in it that help balance the bad bacterias in our mouths. It helps to both treat the pain and other symptoms of canker sores, while also preventing future break outs.

If the pain is still too strong, cayenne pepper is recommend. This sounds crazy, but capsaicin, the ingredient in cayenne pepper that makes it spicy, can also inhibit something called substance P. Substance P is found in the brain and is responsible for regulating pain response in the body. So by mixing a little water and cayenne into a paste and dabbing it on the canker sore, it will actually numb the pain you are experiencing.

While canker sores are inconvenient and painful, there are easy solutions that can be found right in your kitchen pantry to help heal and even prevent them from coming back.

Call our Long Beach Dentist office today at (562) 434-6414 to schedule your bi-annual check-up!

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Using Music to Manage Anxiety at the Dentist

musicianAnxiety about going to the dentist is extremely common. Some estimates say as many as 75% of Americans suffer from some form of anxiety. If you, or someone you know, falls into this category, music could be the answer to calming these nerves.

Before you tell yourself that you haven’t been to the dentist since you were a child and you’re doing fine, consider this: Avoiding the dentist places you at a high risk for gum disease and early tooth decay. Having these problems can affect more than just your mouth. Discolored or damaged teeth have been shown to impact people’s self-esteem both personally and professionally. Also, since our mouths have direct contact with our blood stream and respiratory system, poor oral care has been linked to heart disease and lung infections resulting in overall shorter life expectancy for individuals who avoid dental care.

Due to the severe consequences of poor oral hygiene, it is imperative that we are able to find a solution to dental anxiety. In recent years, music has been used as an anxiety and stress reducer. Using a combination of soothing electronic instrumental sounds and hypnotic suggestion have been found to be incredibly successful in reducing patient anxiety and pain. Music is a non-invasive technique that works by relaxing and distracting our brain’s neuroendocrine and sympathetic nervous systems. These are the systems in our brains responsible for producing anxiety, fear, stress, and adrenaline. Music relaxes and distracts these systems allowing patients to go through procedures without their previously experienced pains and traumas.

Dental anxiety can be brought on by many things. The number one reason people give for putting off their dental visits is a fear of pain. Fear of pain is as much a cognitive and emotional experience as it is a psychological one. Anticipating pain prior to a dental procedure can actually trick our brains into feeling pain during the procedure. This is why music has been so successful in revolutionizing the treatment of patients with dental anxiety. By intercepting those brain waves in the neuroendocrine and sympathetic nervous systems, music effectively reduces patients’ levels of anxiety and pain during their visits.

So next time you want to ditch the dentist, remember how much you love to smile and give music a try. It’s already working for many.

Call our Long Beach Dentist office today at (562) 434-6414 to schedule your bi-annual check-up!

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What You Should Know About Root Canals

root-canalsFinding out you need to have a root canal done might be the scariest thought you have had in a while, but you’re not alone. Millions of teeth are treated and saved each year with a root canal treatment. This fact alone may not be enough to put your fear at ease, so let’s talk about a few things you should know going into a root canal so you can be prepared and feel confident.

It helps to know a little of the tooth anatomy to understand how the root canal procedure works. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue and creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development. The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots where it connects to the tissues surrounding the root. A root canal becomes needed when the pulp inside the root becomes infected or inflamed.

During the procedure the dentist will make an opening in the crown of the tooth and use very small tools to clean out the infected pulp and shape the space for filling. After the space is cleaned and shaped, the dentist will fill the canal area with biocompatible material. This substance seals the root and protects against further infection. The last step is to return to your dentist to have a crown put on the tooth to protect and restore it back to its full function.

After the procedure, it is normal to feel some tenderness in the area for several days. Until you have gone back to your dentist to have a crown put on, you must avoid using that tooth to eat. There are several home remedies for pain such as tee tree oil, ice packs, cold cucumber placed directly on the tooth, or a baking soda rinse. All of these are useful in keeping the tooth clean and reducing any swelling and discomfort that you may be experiencing.

The important thing to remember is to ask your dentist any questions you may have before you schedule the procedure. Make sure you know exactly what the plan is for before, during, and after the root canal so that you go into the procedure ready. It will take several hours, so be sure to plan ahead with a good podcast or audio book you can distract yourself with.

Call our Long Beach Dentist office today at (562) 434-6414 to schedule your bi-annual check-up!

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Dental Tips For Thanksgiving

dental-tips-for-thanksgivingThanksgiving should be a day to relax, enjoy family & friends and sit down to a fabulous meal with your loved ones. And of course, discussing what we are thankful for… and maybe a little football. But with all the non-stop eating and grazing that people tend to do on Thanksgiving, it’s not a great day for your teeth.

To prepare for the upcoming holiday, here are four tooth tips on how to have a smile-friendly day:

Have a glass of water every time you eat.

One of the worst things you can do for your teeth is snack all day long. When you snack frequently, your saliva doesn’t have time to clean your teeth, therefore bacteria continues to breed. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help wash away food.

Avoid foods that stain teeth.

Thanksgiving staples like pecan pie and cranberries are two of the most delicious and tooth-staining treats. Stay away from foods that have a strong coloring, since these colors can wind up on your teeth. That means stick to just a half a glass of the red wine as well.

Brush at least three times throughout the day.

Although travel may inhibit your ability to brush like you would at home, it’s important that you try your best. Remember to pack your toothbrush and clean teeth at least three times throughout the day, especially after eating a meal or snacking.

Don’t forget to floss.

Flossing is just as important as brushing your teeth. Floss immediately after eating to remove any left over particles from between your teeth. This can be especially critical after partaking in those extra sticky items like pecan pie.

Following these simple tips on Thanksgiving (and year round!), will give your teeth many more years of health. That’s something to smile about and be thankful for!

Call our office today at (562) 434-6414 to schedule an appointment for a post-Thanksgiving teeth cleaning!

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Do I Need Mouthwash?

do-i-need-mouthwashMost mouthwashes claim to help fight gingivitis, cavities and bad breath. So, are there any downsides to using mouthwash on a daily basis and should everyone be doing it? When it’s used properly, mouthwash can help inhibit oral disease and tooth decay. But do you need mouthwash as a part of your daily routine to have optimal oral health?

And there’s an even more important question: Is mouthwash even good for your teeth? Surprisingly, the answer is both yes and no. To explain, we’ve laid out the pros, cons, and just about everything else you should know about the rinse you swish in your mouth everyday.

Types of Mouthwash

Believe it or not, almost half the population in the U.S. is suffering from bad breath. Though it seems like giving half the country some mouthwash would do the trick, it turns out that mouthwash usage isn’t really all that simple. In fact, there is a variety a mouthwashes available to promote various aspects of oral health. So what kinds of mouthwash are on the market? Depending on what you need it for, you can find a corresponding mouthwash. There are basically 5 kinds of mouthwashes:

Desensitizing Mouthwash

To reduce sensitivity, you can use a mouthwash that contains Arginine. This substance claims to seal the sensitive sites’ dentinal tubules. It’s best to consult your dentist about using desensitizing mouthwash in order to see the best results.

Fluoride Rinse

For added protection against tooth decay, this kind of mouthwash generally contains about 0.05% of Sodium Fluoride (NaF). For those who have trouble fighting off cavities, this mouthwash can come in handy.

Cosmetic Mouthwash

This mouthwash doesn’t always necessarily fight the germs in your mouth, but it does leave your breath minty and fresh. However, cosmetic mouthwash only masks the bad smell instead of removing the bacteria that causes bad breath.

Whitening Mouthwash

One popular way to whiten teeth at home is to use a whitening mouthwash. This kind of rinse contains a bleaching agent, commonly known as hydrogen peroxide. This helps to whiten teeth and remove stains over time.

Anti-Plaque Mouthwash

This mouthwash inhibits plaque accumulation, which helps prevent gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). Active ingredients present in antiseptic mouthwash are Thymol, Triclosan, Cetylpyridinium Chloride, Chlorhexidine, etc.

Advantages of Using Mouthwash

Fights Gum Disease

Plaque naturally builds up on your teeth from bacteria and food. Tooth sockets and gums can get infected and inflamed when left untreated, resulting in gingivitis (Periodontal Disease).

Fresh Breath

There isn’t a better way to start the day than with fresh, minty breath. Some mouthwashes not only add a refreshing fragrance to your mouth, they also kill the bacteria that causes bad breath.

Soothe Mouth Ulcers/Canker Sores

Mouthwash can ease a canker sore by detoxing the area — reducing the amount of bacteria that can irritate the site. Rinsing with salt water is also effective for canker sores.

Reduce Risk of Cavities

Fluoride reduces demineralization by strengthening and protecting the enamel on teeth.

Safeguard Pregnancy

Because hormonal changes can lead to a higher risk of gingivitis, pregnant woman are at a higher risk than normal during that time. Bacterial infections that cause serious periodontal disease can lead to a greater chance of low birth weight in infants and premature delivery.

Disadvantages of Using Mouthwash

There are a few cons to consider when using mouthwash. However, most of the disadvantages are results caused by mouthwash that has alcohol present.

Possible Links to Oral Cancer

There’s an ongoing debate on whether or not there are legitimate trends between developing oral cancer using mouthwash with alcohol. Though some experts recommend using mouthwash to kill the germs that can cause gingivitis, you should really talk to your dentist before using mouthwash with alcohol.

Reduce Benefits of Toothpaste

Sometimes there can be an interaction between the chemicals in the toothpaste and chemicals in the mouthwash and this means they cancel out the benefits of each other. You can avoid this by leaving 30 minutes in between brushing and using mouthwash.

Increased Tooth Sensitivity

The alcohol present in some mouthwashes will gradually dissolve the mucus layer, leaving teeth vulnerable. This can cause great sensitivity.

The Benefits Don’t Always Outweigh the Monetary Cost

If you are brushing and flossing regularly to maintain your dental health, some dentists would say that you’re wasting your money. Unless you have gum disease, dental decay, or bad breath, you might be better off spending your $5 elsewhere.

Situations When You Should Use Mouthwash

Not using mouthwash won’t be detrimental to your health. However, if you suffer from the following ailments, mouthwash should be used:

  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Bad breath
  • Periodontal disease from pregnancy
  • Cavities
  • Bacterial build up from recent dental surgery

Now that you know all the pros and cons about using mouthwash, you can decide for yourself if you should continue using it on a daily basis. Opinions of the matter vary from dentist to dentist, but your teeth are probably going to be fine as long as you brush and floss regularly and continue to see your dentist regularly.

Call our Long Beach Dentist office today at (562) 434-6414 to schedule your bi-annual check up!

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Your Halloween Candy Plan

your-halloween-candy-planIs thinking about Halloween candy and its effect on your children’s teeth making you feel like it’s a holiday made for creating tooth decay? Don’t fret, you can be mindful of your child’s oral health and still let them enjoy the special occasion and the treats that come with it. In fact, Halloween can be a great time to teach your children about how to prevent cavities and make healthy choices. It’s almost impossible avoid Halloween candy completely, but there are some easy and fun ways that you can minimize the sugar overload after trick-or-treating is over.

Brush Those Treats Away

Whether your child eats one piece of candy or ten, it’s a must to brush properly to prevent tooth decay. After indulging in Halloween sweets, have your child both brush and floss, since candy can easily get stuck between teeth. Remind your child of proper brushing techniques. Show him how to move the brush back and forth against his teeth and gums with short, gentle strokes and how to place the brush at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line. Younger children will need your help to brush and floss thoroughly.

Create Candy Plan

The best thing you can do to avoid going overboard with Halloween candy is to prepare ahead of time. Talk with your child about what the plan will be before the bucket is brimming with candy. It helps to give your child options from which to choose, such as whether they would like to keep the candy and parcel it out slowly or trade it in for a no-sugar reward. Another idea is to set a limit on the number of houses that you visit or to simply have your child fill a smaller bag. The most important part is to establish the rules beforehand.

Candy Swap

There are a lot of alternatives to simply deciding whether or not you will allow your child to indulge in Halloween sweets. A candy swap is a great way to let your child enjoy the fun of trick-or-treating without overloading on sweets. The general concept is to swap your child’s candy for a non-candy treat, such as a toy that your child has wanted for some time or an activity she has wanted to try. You can also extend the swap by trading out small amounts at a time rather than the whole thing at once; for example, you can allow your child to pick one piece of Halloween candy a day but then give them the opportunity to do a daily trade for something as simple as a sticker.

Halloween doesn’t have to be scary for dental health. Use it as a teachable moment to help your child learn about moderation and dental care. You will set your child up for a future of healthy choices.

Call our office today at (562) 434-6414 to schedule an appointment for a post-Halloween teeth cleaning!

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There are a number of reasons why you are experiencing tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity can be affected by age, and not necessarily old age either. Tooth sensitivity is highest between ages 25 to 30, so if you’ve been taking good care of your teeth, they show no signs of decay and you’ve been seeing your dentist regularly, you probably don’t have too much to worry about. However, a suddenly sensitive tooth can be a symptom of another problem.

Your teeth are covered by a layer of hard enamel that is tightly sealed by healthy gum tissue. The inside layer of the teeth is made of a softer layer with numerous microscopic nerve endings. If these nerve endings are exposed, or if the tooth becomes irritated, you get tooth sensitivity. Many people just deal with sensitive teeth by ignoring the problem and not doing anything about it. We have all heard of people saying that their teeth hurt under certain circumstances and they simply avoid consuming those items that cause the discomfort. However, this does not allow outstanding problems to be addressed and usually leads to more complicated and uncomfortable situations.

The pain could be caused by an exposure of the nerves deep inside the tooth due to cavities or the exposure of the nerve endings on the outer surface of the tooth from gum problems. Or you may be developing tooth decay near the gum line. Since you see no decay on top of the tooth, you might not be aware a cavity exists, but it can create tiny holes near the gum in front or in the back of the tooth.

You could also be developing gingivitis. Inflamed or sore gums may cause sensitivity due to the loss of supporting ligaments, which exposes the root surface leading directly to the tooth. If you have advanced gingivitis, (periodontal disease), the gums are moving away from the tooth, exposing the roots.

Teeth grinding can also cause sudden sensitivity. Habitual grinding or clenching your teeth wears down the enamel, exposing the underlying dentin.

Other reasons you might be experiencing sensitivity include a cracked or broken tooth, which may fill up with plaque, causing inflammation, a loose filling or an improperly fitting crown. Let your dentist know right away if a filling or crown is causing you pain, as a replacement should be prompt to prevent long lasting damage.

Highly acidic foods can also give you tooth sensitivity. If you eat a lot of citrus fruits, tomatoes and other foods with high acid content, they could be wearing away at the enamel of your teeth, causing sensitivity to the dentin.

If you’re experiencing sudden tooth sensitivity, call our office today at (562) 434-6414 to schedule an appointment.

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Medical examination

When your gums recede or pull away from your teeth, it is called gum recession. Gum recession can happen to people of all ages. Sometimes it happens even if a person takes good care of his or her teeth. Gum recession can cause problems for your dental health. If you have gum recession, your dentist can help you understand the causes and recommend a treatment.

When teeth are healthy, gum tissue fits around each tooth like a cuff. In a tooth with gum recession, the gum tissue has pulled away from the tooth. This can leave the tooth root exposed. Since the root surface does not have a hard enamel covering like the crown of the tooth, the root may become sensitive to hot and cold. Also, the exposed tooth root is more at risk for decay.

Gum recession can be difficult to self-diagnose in its earliest stages because the changes often occur asymptomatically and gradually. Regular dental check ups will help to prevent gum recession and assess risk factors.

Some of the symptoms you may experience if you have gum recession are:

  • Sensitive teeth-When the gums recede enough to expose the cementum protecting the tooth root, the dentin tubules beneath will become more susceptible to external stimuli.
  • Visible roots–This is one of the main characteristics of a more severe case of gum recession.

  • Longer-looking teeth–Individuals experiencing gingival recession often have a “toothy” smile. The length of the teeth is perfectly normal, but the gum tissue has been lost, making the teeth appear longer.

  • Halitosis, inflammation and bleeding–These symptoms are characteristic of gingivitis or periodontal disease. A bacterial infection causes the gums to recede from the teeth and may cause tooth loss if not treated promptly.

Gum recession can be caused by:

  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Trauma to gum tissues, such as a sports injury
  • Partial dentures that don’t fit right
  • Genetics–some people are born with gums that are thin or weak
  • Prominent tooth roots or attachment muscles that can push gums out of place
  • Smoking and using any kind of tobacco

Treatment for gum recession depends on the cause. If the gums become unattached from the tooth, it is important to treat gum recession. Otherwise, it may get worse. If gum recession is caused by brushing too hard, your dentist can show you a better way to clean your teeth. This will not repair the existing damage, but it will prevent new damage to the gums.

If gum recession is caused by periodontal disease the first step is usually a treatment called scaling and root planing. The dentist removes plaque and tartar from the tooth and root surfaces. This treatment helps gum tissues heal and reattach to the tooth. For many patients, this treatment plus excellent oral care at home and regular dental visits can help control periodontal disease and gum attachment loss.

If gum recession is caused by partial dentures that don’t fit right, your dentist can adjust or remake them for you. If recession is advanced, a gum graft may be needed.

If you think you may be experiencing gum recession, call our office today at (562) 434-6414 to schedule an appointment.

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