Call for an appointment: Long Beach, CA (562)434-6414

Oral Health Tips for Summer Vacation and Travel Season

How will you and your family take care of your teeth during summer vacation?

When it comes to planning your family’s travel or maybe even a business trip, most of us don’t tend to think that much about our teeth. We know to pack a toothbrush, some toothpaste, and maybe floss, but there’s actually more that you can do in order to maintain good oral health while traveling.

It’s worth it to set aside some time to prepare yourself in case of – and to help prevent – a dental emergency abroad. Here are some of our favorite tips:

Schedule a dental visit well before your trip

Even if you think your teeth are fine, your dentist will be able to assess you and your family’s situation and make recommendations leading up to and during your travels. You may be showing signs of cavities, and so your dentist may suggest a fluoride treatment before you jet off.

Find an in-network dentist in the area you’re visiting

If you’re traveling in the domestic U.S., then check with your dental insurance to see if there are any dentists in the city you’ll be in. That way, if you have a dental emergency, you will be able to pay the dental office a visit without spending too much money.

Also, keep your family dentist’s number on hand. Many dental emergencies can be handled without visiting a doctor.

Check with the U.S. embassy for recommendations

Traveling abroad to a foreign country? Get in contact with the U.S. embassy or a local consulate to find dentists who have experience in working with people from your country or can at least speak your native language.

Keep your receipts

If your dental insurance allows you to see out-of-network dentists, then you may be eligible for some reimbursements for any expenses related to your oral care. A quick phone call with your dental insurance company before your travels can help clear up any confusion.

Prepare a dental travel kit for carry on

Most of us tend to pack our dental care items in our check-in luggage, but what happens when your luggage is lost or not immediately available? For those moments, it’s great to have a small but effective carry-on kit so you can care for your teeth no matter where you are.

Be sure that your toothpaste and mouthwash meet the travel size requirements (typically 3 oz.) before boarding on your flight.

Protect your teeth and avoid expensive oral care procedures while traveling abroad – book your appointment today. Dr. Coates and his dental team in Long Beach, CA are here to help you and your family achieve and maintain great oral health. Call us at 562-434-6414 or book online.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn

Posted in Dental Trivia | Leave a comment

Tips for Maintaining Good Oral Health for Kids this Summer

The school year has ended and summer vacation is in full swing, which probably means your house is getting a lot busier.

With the break in daily routine, committing your children to the same schedule may be a chore. And if there’s anything we know about kids, it’s that getting them to adjust to a different schedule is not always easy!

But between the summer camps, vacations, playdates and naps, here are some suggestions for keeping your children’s dental needs and health top priority.

  1. Visit the dentist at the beginning of summer, and right before school starts again.
    Go ahead and schedule a dental visit right after school ends, and schedule another one before school starts as well. This signals to your child that they should be thinking about their teeth and oral care even during the relaxing and fun summer months. Your dentist may also be another encouraging and motivating figure for your child to keep good care of their teeth.
  2. Don’t break the morning and nightly routine of brushing and flossing.
    If your family was brushing as a group activity throughout the school year, don’t lose focus of that. Children often need parental motivation to commit to tasks that aren’t necessarily seen as fun. Also, if you were introducing other features to toothbrushing time, like 2-minute songs or videos, be sure to keep up with that, too.
  3. Create a travel kit that includes a floss, toothbrush, and toothpaste.
    Between the vacations and summer camps, your children need to know that oral care should always be top of mind whenever they’re packing or traveling. Help them put together a carry-on kit that’s always on their person, and include essentials that they should always have access to, like toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, and more. That way, when you’re at an airport, travel stop, or at grandma’s house, they’re always ready to care for their teeth.
  4. Help them monitor their foods and drinks.
    Summer time means sugary drinks and lots of snacking, which can increase the chances for oral issues like cavities. Make sure your kids understand the importance of moderating foods with high sugar content, and that drinking water is essential to their overall health.
  5. Consider getting a mouthguard.
    Many kids get into sports or other physical activities during the summer, which creates more chances for physical impact that may affect their teeth. During your first summer visit to the dentist, see if they can make a custom tray for your child that they can wear all summer long. You can also purchase mouthguards at any major retailer in the oral care section.

Book your summer appointment now with our family-friendly and kid-approved dental team in Long Beach. You can use our online system here, or call us at 562-434-6414.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn

Posted in Dental Trivia | Leave a comment

How Your Dentist Can Tell That You Might Have Acid Reflux

Did you know that GERD, or gastroesophageal acid reflux disease, can negatively affect your oral health?

It’s pretty common for people to experience burping to release some extra air they may have consumed during a large meal. However, for people with acid reflux, there is an excessive amount of air and acid that will travel back up the esophagus (the tube that connects to your stomach) to the mouth.

This acid can lead to tooth decay or tooth erosion, specifically on the back of your teeth. If your dentist notices that you have eroded enamel behind your teeth, then they may determine that you are showing signs of having GERD and will recommend that you get treated for it.

Normally, your saliva can combat the acid that enters your mouth, but people with acid reflux may not be producing enough saliva. It’s important that you not only treat GERD if you have it, but to also protect your teeth to prevent tooth erosion, cavities, and other periodontal diseases.

To produce more saliva, you can try chewing on sugar-free gum (look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance) and drinking more water throughout the day. To protect your enamel, look for desensitizing toothpaste, or work with your dentist on receiving certain procedures like fluoride treatment or sealants to help prevent further oral issues.

Once you visit your doctor to get treated for GERD, you should keep up with their recommendations and medications to decrease the acid reflux. Try eating smaller meals, exercising to lose weight, removing alcohol and other acidic beverages or foods from your diet, and/or limiting garlic and spicy foods. You should also visit your dentist regularly to ensure that you maintain good oral health.

GERD isn’t the only disease that has oral and dental manifestations. Visiting your dentist is good not just for healthy teeth and gums, but to also help patients identify other health issues, including sleep apnea.

Make your appointment now with Dr. Stephen Coates and his dental team, servicing residents and families in Long Beach, CA and surrounding areas. Book now online, or call us at 562-434-6414.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn

Posted in Dental Trivia | Leave a comment

The Relationship Between Sun Exposure and Your Oral Health

During the summer months, we tend to think about protecting our skin from harmful UV rays and sunlight by applying sunblock or limiting our exposure to the sun. But we often don’t think about our teeth – is the sun harmful to your enamel?

The short answer is no. It is very unlikely that your teeth will be damaged by too much sun exposure. On the contrary, some sun may actually be good for your teeth!

Our body’s natural process of producing Vitamin D involves soaking up the sun through our skin. This important vitamin helps the body absorb calcium more efficiently, which in turn helps to strengthen your bones – teeth and jaw included.

However, there might be other summer activities that you might want to moderate in order to protect your oral health.

  • Limit your alcohol intake: Summer parties usually means more beer and liquor, so try to moderate your drinking. The sugar in those drinks can damage your teeth if you don’t take the extra step to care for your oral health.
  • Apply lip balm with SPF: When we apply sunblock to our face, we often forget about our lips, which are already fairly weak to UV rays. Try a lip balm with SPF higher than 30 for good protection and comfortable wear.
  • Brush your teeth after a dip in the pool or ocean: The chlorine that’s present in most pools can be harmful to your tooth enamel, and ocean water may bring unwanted bacteria into your mouth.
  • Buy a mouthguard if you’re physically active: If you like to play volleyball or go rock-climbing, guarding your teeth against physical impact could lessen your chances of getting a cracked tooth.

Before you set off for vacation this summer, consider visiting your dentist to help protect your oral health. You could ask to get a sealant, which will aid in the fight against decay and cavities. Your dentist may also work with you to create a custom care plan suited to you and your family’s needs.

Let Dr. Stephen Coates and his dental team in Long Beach, CA help your family with their dental care. Call 562-434-6414 to set up an appointment, or book through this online system.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn

Posted in Dental Trivia | Leave a comment

How Do I Shop for the Right Toothbrush?

There are so many varieties of toothbrushes on the market, that it can be a daunting task when it comes time to find a new toothbrush.

Soft or hard bristle, angled head, contoured grip, electric powered… there are many features that may seem important to getting a better brush. Truth is, some of these features may not matter, and some features are just about personal preference.

When it comes down to it, the best home care routine for cleaning teeth is about how you brush your teeth, and the additional tools you use, like floss. No matter what type of toothbrush you use, it’s important to brush twice a day, at least 2 minutes each time.

Here are some of our tips and recommendations when looking for a new toothbrush:

  • Soft bristle is better than hard bristle. Using a toothbrush that has a harder bristle may feel like you’re getting a better clean, but you’re probably only causing more damage. The hard cleaning can harm your gums and scratch (or even brush off!) your enamel. For many people, a soft bristle toothbrush works just fine.
  • Get a brush with a smaller head that fits your mouth. Just because you have a larger toothbrush doesn’t mean you can clean more in less time. Get an appropriately sized toothbrush that you can fit well inside your mouth at different angles, so that you can also clean behind your teeth and in other hard-to-reach places.
  • Choose your preferred grip for the handle. Flexible neck, contoured grip, longer handles… these are all features that will differ with everyone’s personal preferences. Be sure to choose a handle that is comfortable for you, and will allow you to reach inside your mouth without hassle.
  • Powered toothbrushes are a good investment. We recommend electric toothbrushes because it encourages people to get a good clean with every brush. They remove plaque more effectively, and they’re great for people with mobility issues.

Essentially, find a brush that fits you, and don’t forget to floss BEFORE you brush your teeth. Check out this page for more information on how to best brush your teeth at home.

Need help with your home care dental routine? Not sure what toothbrush is best for your specific needs? Book an appointment with us today, and our experienced dental team will be able to assist.

Use our convenient online scheduling tool, or call our Long Beach office at 562-434-6414.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn

Posted in Dental Trivia | Leave a comment

How to Get a Picture-Perfect Smile for Prom

You may not have picked out your dress or tux yet for prom – much less your date! – but it’s never too early to start thinking about how your smile will look in those glamorous prom photos. And think of all the selfies you’ll be taking, too!

To look your best in those social media photos, it’s time to start thinking about your oral health and care now so that your pearly whites are ready for the camera (no one wants to rely on filters to give themselves a nice bright smile). Here are a few things to keep in mind and start doing now, to prepare for prom and the pictures you’re going to keep for years to come:

  • Remember to floss: Studies have shown that teenagers are less likely to take care of their teeth as much as they should in order to maintain a beautiful and healthy smile. All it takes is a simple routine of flossing and brushing your teeth twice a day, 2 minutes each time. Plaque can quickly build up in those hard-to-reach places, making it difficult to get whiter teeth in time for prom. Check out this quick guide for the best way to clean your teeth at home.
  • Limit your intake of sugary drinks and coffee: We all hate to hear it, but the sad truth is that sugar and acid can damage and stain your enamel – resulting in discolored teeth and painful cavities. Moderation is key, so just try not to overdo it with the soda, energy drinks, and coffee. You’ll be stunned at what limiting your intake of these drinks will do for your teeth, giving you a brighter smile and decreasing your risk for damaged and decaying teeth to boot.
  • Start a tooth whitening treatment: Bleaching your teeth is a simple and non-invasive dental treatment that can help you get whiter teeth fast. A professional-grade dental whitening treatment takes only two dentist visits and daily application of a whitening tray that is custom-made for you.

Be sure to book your appointment now so that you can have the smile of your dreams on prom night. Our Long Beach dental team will take care of your needs so you’ll have the confidence to take the best photos.

Use our online system to conveniently book an appointment now, or call us at 562-434-6414.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn

Posted in Dental Trivia | Leave a comment

How to Care for Your Teeth While on Spring Break

The last thing you will want to think about is your dental hygiene while you’re out having a great time at the beach or chosen vacation spot. After all, isn’t it all about letting loose and having fun without all the stress and worries of daily life?

Unfortunately, your health doesn’t take a break. However, it’s not all that bad if you miss a day or two of routine dental care, but any moment you spend on caring for your oral health will only help you in the long run.

Even just a few minutes a day focusing on the health of your mouth will make a big and positive difference. Here are some tips to keep in mind!

  • Pack mouthwash: Remembering to pack your toothbrush and toothpaste may be easy, but don’t forget about mouthwash. Depending on where you are staying, you may not have access to clean water from your sink, so mouthwash will be a good thing to have on hand. Once you arrive, you might also want to purchase some bottled water should you find that clean water is not easy to come by in your room.
  • Chew sugar-free gum on the flight: A popular travel hack is to chew gum while taking off or landing on a plane, because it helps with ear-popping. Sugar is a well-known contributor to certain oral issues, so to prevent you from ingesting more sugar than necessary, buy a sugar-free gum to use during your travels. Most airports will have them.
  • Limit your alcohol intake: All good things in moderation! Not only will drinking too much wreak havoc on your body, but the sugar from those drinks (yes, even beer has sugar!) will also be bad for your teeth. And when you do indulge in a drink or two, remember to brush your teeth before turning in after a night of fun.
  • Talk to your dentist about preparing an emergency kit: If you have braces, veneers, or any other dental implant, you might want to get recommendations from your dental care provider about what items to pack for your trip. While vacationing, you most likely won’t have easy access to a dental office for emergencies, so it’s best to be prepared for the unlikely event you get a chipped tooth, broken braces, lost aligners, etc.

It’s important to take a break and have fun on vacation. Soak in the sun, spend time with friends, and get some physical exercise in. But it’s also important to take care of your oral health – your future self will thank you!

Book your appointment with our Long Beach dental team today to discuss your needs for dental care while traveling. Use our online system to schedule an appointment, or call us at 562-434-6414.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn

Posted in Dental Trivia | Leave a comment

What are Tooth Fillings Made of?

The most common way a dentist will treat a cavity is to remove the decayed part of the tooth, and then fill it with a special dental filling to help prevent further decay and retain the integrity of the tooth.

These fillings can also be used to repair cracks or breaks in the enamel, which can occur when the tooth is struck by a physical object, or even if grind your teeth extensively, sometimes referred to as bruxism.

What materials are used in dental fillings?

Today, there are a variety of materials used for a tooth filling, and each serve different purposes. Depending on your situation, your dentist may suggest specific types of fillings based on your insurance, your current dental needs, etc.

Mercury-Silver amalgam fillings

At one point, these silver fillings were the most commonly used fillings used for repairing tooth decay. They are inexpensive and can last up to 10 or 15+ years depending on the care. However, these silver fillings can discolor over time, and its silvery look can be aesthetically displeasing.

This material may also expand or contract depending on the temperature and contribute to your teeth cracking or fracturing over time. Since these fillings to not bond or stick to the teeth the dentist will generally have to create a larger space in the tooth to create more room for the filling for retention. Another disadvantage is the presence of mercury in this material. While mercury itself has been shown to be damaging to our health, the amount of mercury in these fillings are below the FDA limit and have shown no signs to be detrimental to our health, according to several studies. However, most people tend to avoid silver amalgam fillings these days.

Gold cast fillings

While gold can cost much more than silver amalgam fillings, they’re more durable and last longer.

Gold cast fillings also don’t tarnish the same way silver fillings do, and some people may find the gold to be more pleasing aesthetically than silver. Some patients may also choose gold over silver if they’re concerned about the nominal amount of mercury in silver fillings, and would want a material that doesn’t require as much maintenance and care.

Tooth-colored composite fillings

For those looking for more aesthetically pleasing fillings, a composite filling may be what you’re looking for. However, while they’re made to closely match the color of your teeth, they can be more expensive than silver fillings, and typically won’t last as long.

These fillings are made of a plastic and fine glass mixture that gives it its tooth-like coloring. The material also bonds better with your teeth, giving it a stronger hold than with the amalgam fillings.

Porcelain fillings

Porcelain fillings are a great choice for patients who want a cleaner look for teeth. These fillings are better at resisting staining and discoloration than composite fillings.

Porcelain fillings are sometimes referred to as porcelain inlays or onlays, and can actually be a little bit more difficult to place because of the material’s durability.

Glass ionomer fillings

If you have a tooth with decay below the gumline, or a child (whose teeth are still changing) who needs a filling, then your dentist may suggest glass ionomer fillings because of its flexibility.

These fillings are weaker than composite fillings and do not last as long, but they contain fluoride, which is slowly released onto your teeth, aiding in the fight against future tooth decay. Applying glass ionomer fillings may also take longer than other fillings, requiring a longer dental office visit.

Which dental filling will I need?

Your dentist will be able to assess your current situation and determine the best course of action for your dental needs, time, and budget. Also your dental insurance may limit what type of material they will pay for which is usually the least costly to them not necessarily the best for you and your tooth. With a variety of different materials to choose from, you’ll be sure to find one that will suit your needs and maintain good oral health.

Let the experienced dental staff and Dr. Stephen Coates help you with your tooth repair needs. If you’re in or around the Long Beach, CA area, we’d love to serve you as part of our dental family.

Schedule your appointment with our online system here, or call us at 562-434-6414.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn

Posted in Dental Trivia | Leave a comment

Should You Avoid Drinking “Green Beer” to Protect Your Teeth?

St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner, and that means the bars will be full of green people and green drinks very soon!

A popular drink for the holiday is “green beer,” which is essentially just a light beer – like a pilsner or pale ale – with a little bit of green food coloring. Some bars might even take it to the next level and offer other green drinks, like a honeydew martini made with Midori, or a grasshopper, made with creme de menthe.

Will food coloring stain my teeth?

It is common to assume that food coloring is bad for your teeth – after all, the whole point of the dye is to stain the food. But actually, the dye isn’t all that bad on your enamel. It will take repeated exposure to the dye for your enamel to start staining or discolor, and it would be highly unlikely that you would consume that much food coloring to have a noticeable effect.

Unless you’re holding a large amount of food coloring in your mouth for a long time, you’re good to continue enjoying the festivities by consuming the food and drinks you want. Of course, everything in moderation!

But it’s the not the food coloring you should worry about…

Alcoholic drinks are notoriously bad for your oral health, on top of the fact that alcohol is already damaging to your overall health.

Beer can be especially acidic, which can weaken your enamel over time. Most alcoholic drinks are also high in sugar, and it’s the sugar that can lead to a host of dental issues if it stays in your mouth for too long.

But, like everything, moderation is key. Be aware of your alcohol intake, and make sure to stick to your teeth cleaning routine. Spending a little extra time on your teeth on the day you consume that much sugar and alcohol may not hurt either.

Want to ensure you keep your teeth healthy through St. Patrick’s Day and other holidays? Consider getting a sealant, which add a layer of protection to your teeth to help prevent build-up and tooth decay. Let our experienced dental team in Long Beach help set your teeth up for success.

Schedule your appointment now using our online system, or call us at 562-434-6414.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn

Posted in Dental Trivia | Leave a comment

Should You Get Veneers to Achieve that Perfect Smile?

Having a great smile can lead to many positive things in life, including a better romantic life, more confidence in social and professional settings, and more. Many studies have shown that those who are more confident with their oral health experience more happiness overall.

For some people with dental issues, getting that picture-perfect smile can seem like a pipe dream. But in reality, with help and guidance from your dentist, just about anyone can achieve a gorgeous smile.

Should you get braces or veneers for a better smile?

In some situations, it may be that braces are a viable option for you if all you’re looking to do is straighten out your teeth. Teeth that are otherwise healthy can be shifted to form a straighter smile. Clear aligners like Invisalign may also be an option.

Meanwhile, dental veneers are a thin layer of porcelain or other similar material, and they’re made to fit around your teeth to give a more natural and attractive look. Veneers are a great option for those experiencing certain dental issues that braces or aligners may not be able to address. Some of these oral issues may include:

  • Discolored teeth
  • Decaying or chipped teeth
  • Poorly-shaped or gapped teeth
  • Misaligned teeth that cannot be shifted

One benefit to dental veneers is that the materials are made to be more resistant to stains from foods like coffee and tea, and often do a better job at preventing build-up than natural teeth.

Veneers also offer a quicker solution for gorgeous-looking teeth. Braces and aligners may take months, even a year, to provide you the smile you’re looking for.

How do I know if dental veneers are right for me?

If you’re ready to explore options for getting that beautiful smile, then it’s time to book an appointment with your dentist. They will be able to assess your current oral health and situation and provide you with a custom plan for a better smile.

Porcelain veneers, much like other cosmetic dental procedures, still require you to have a great dental hygiene routine. Your dentist will be able to discuss with you how to care for your new veneers.

Long Beach Cosmetic dentist Dr. Stephen Coates and his experienced team have been helping patients for decade achieve that perfect smile. Let us help you decide if dental veneers are a good option for you.

Book your appointment online now, or call us at 562-434-6414.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to LinkedIn

Posted in Dental Trivia | Leave a comment