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“Fall” into Better Oral Health This Season

The official start of the fall season is kicking off this month, and we are ready to embrace autumn with open arms and a bright smile.

It’s also time to think about how our oral health might change with the season. As it gets colder, you may experience some sensitivity in your teeth in response to the chilly weather. If you do, it could be a sign of some oral health issues, like cracked enamel or a cavity.

Colder weather can also affect saliva production, which is important for maintaining good oral hygiene. Drink more water to stay hydrated, and consider sugar-free chewing gum to get those saliva glands working again.

Your diet may also change with the season, and that will also affect our mouths. Pumpkin spiced lattes are delicious, but the sugar can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums if you don’t clean your teeth often. You may also be drinking more ginger beer, eating more pumpkin-laced desserts, or more fast-food with school in full swing – all of which could negatively affect your oral health if you aren’t careful.

We assume you’re already brushing your teeth twice a day throughout the entire year anyway, but if you’re consuming more sugary treats, you should pay closer attention to your at-home oral care routine. Consider using mouthwash more often, or maybe finally purchase that electric toothbrush you’ve been eyeing.

Your eating habits may also change with the holidays around the corner – Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are opportune times to be bombarded with sweets and treats at every corner. We want you to be able to enjoy the many treats, which is why we also want you to have good oral health.

Come in for your check-up before the season gets more hectic. Our Long Beach dental team is here to help you manage oral care for you and your family.

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

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TMJ Disorders are Common for Teenagers

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) is a common concern for teenage kids, according to the American Association for Pediatric Dentistry. The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is a complex area of the face that connects the jaw bone, the pit of temporal bone, and connective tissue.

TMD can be painful or restrict movement of the jaw, which makes it a disorder that needs to be addressed as soon as signs of it appear. Other signs may include bruxism (biting or grinding your teeth at night), clicking noises when moving the jaw, dislocated or “locked” jaw, and more.

For many young adults, treating TMD can be relatively simple, given that the problem is identified sooner rather than later. You may be prescribed muscle relaxers for the pain, and you may receive dental appliances – like a bite guard – to help with the grinding or irregular biting movements.

For more serious cases, surgery may be needed to relocate the jaw. This is a more permanent way to realign the mouth and has a higher success rate of treatment. A headgear or even braces may also be used to help manage TMD.

Diagnosing TMD can be done by your family dentist, who can also give you more customized tips for managing TMD and the associated pain. However, it’s important to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as you notice signs or symptoms. As with any medical issue, the earlier you identify it, the easier it is to treat it.

What causes TMJ disorder?

There is no known, specific cause for TMJ disorder (or TMD), though many dentists will agree that some cases may arise from injury to the jaw, mouth, or neck. Other reasons may include arthritis, bruxism, or even imprecise previous orthodontic treatments.

Orthodontic treatment may make the teeth straight and give you a great smile, but if the bite is not aligned properly, TMD can develop. Evaluation of the bite may disclose an underlying trigger for the TMD and recommendations may be made by your dentist to tweak the orthodontic results, adjust the bite, or place a bite guard.

Whether you’re experiencing pain or have more questions, make plans to visit our Long Beach general family dentistry. Our experienced team has served the community for many years, and we’re happy to see you, as well.

Book online now with our scheduling system, or call us at 562-434-6414.

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How Oral Health Changes as We Age

September 9th is National Grandparents Day, which is the perfect time to talk about oral health for aging adults! Whether you’re a grandparent who wants a great smile for all the photos and selfies with the grandkids, or you’re wondering how aging affects your teeth, there are some great tips that you should know for your oral health.

Did you know that your oral health directly affects the health for the rest of your body? As much as we think about heart or digestive health as we age, we should be equally focusing on our mouths as well.

Seniors are also at a bigger risk for poor oral health for a variety of reasons.

Loss of dental insurance

As older adults go into retirement, many will lose dental insurance coverage. Additionally, the federally-funded Medicare does not cover routine dental care. You may need to turn to private insurance companies or even the AARP to find dental insurance specifically tailored to seniors.

Dry mouth

Saliva production is affected by certain medications, and statistically, senior adults generally take more prescription medication compared to other age groups. With less saliva comes an increased chance for periodontal disease and other oral issues. Try chewing on sugar-free gum as a solution to this potential issue.

Arthritis

Pain in the joints, especially in our arms and hands, can make it more difficult to care for our teeth. Because of this, many older adults aren’t cleaning their teeth as well as they could be, which will lead to poor oral health. Invest in an electric toothbrush and work with your dentist to find other tools that will help you maintain a proper oral care routine.

Denture-induced stomatitis

If you don’t properly care for your dentures, you could develop an infection in your mouth that will not only make it harder to wear your dentures later on, but also lead to periodontal diseases that may be difficult to treat. Make sure to clean your appliances daily with cleaning products designed specifically for dentures.

Let our Long Beach dental team help you care for your teeth, no matter what age you are. Our family-centered dentistry has served the area for many years, providing healthy smiles young and old.

Book now using our online system, or by calling us at 562-434-6414.

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These Foods Help Promote Better Oral Health

You’re often told what to stay away from to maintain good oral health (for instance, anything high in sugar), but what about foods that help you achieve a better smile?

For the record, we’re not advising that you completely stay away from sugar, but rather moderate it. We have an informative blog post about sugar, what it can do to your oral health and how to have your cake and eat it too!

But let’s talk about what you should eat. There are a lot of tasty and delicious foods out there that are not only packed with vital nutrients essential to building strong teeth and gums, but can help stimulate saliva flow, which is necessary for fighting off infections and periodontal diseases.

Leafy greens

This comes as no surprise that vegetables like spinach, kale and arugula are packed with great vitamins and nutrients for your overall health. They contain calcium, which helps build strong tooth enamel, and B vitamins, which can help fight off gum disease.

Yogurt

Many dairy products contain protein and calcium, which as we mentioned helps with strong teeth. But yogurt goes the extra mile with the added benefit of probiotics. These beneficial bacteria help keep the good bacteria in your mouth, crowding out the cavity-causing bacteria. Also, probiotics may help those with gastritis or acid reflux, which can cause tooth erosion if left untreated.

Fruits and veggies high in fiber

Apples and carrots are examples of foods with lots of fiber, known to help promote healthier gums and teeth. Foods like celery also act like a natural brush, gently scraping away at food particles that may linger around. Bonus: chewing also produces more saliva, which is an essential and natural part of keeping your mouth clean.

Sugar-free chewing gum

Speaking of chewing, if you need a boost of salivation production, reach for the sugar-free gum. Saliva is important for neutralizing acids, breaking down sugars, defending against tooth decay and gum disease, helping heal oral wounds, making chewing and eating easier, and more.

Water

It’s no wonder that water is on this list, seeing how time and time again we are reminded of its endless benefits. If you need more motivation, just remember that water can help clean out debris in your mouth, aid in saliva production, and – if it contains fluoride – aid in the fight against tooth decay and gum disease.

While diet remains one of the most important factors in your oral health, so is visiting your dentist. Get more information on maintaining a beautiful smile and received a customized plan from your dentist for better oral health.

Book your next appointment with Dr. Stephen Coates and his dental team in Long Beach by scheduling online, or by calling us at 562-434-6414.

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What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?

Baby bottle tooth decay, sometimes referred to as Early Childhood Caries, occurs when there is frequent exposure of a child’s tooth or teeth to sugary liquids. Even naturally-occurring sugars from milk can cause tooth decay in a child.

Even if a child’s teeth are temporary, it’s important to take good care of their teeth. For one, it helps introduce the child to regular oral care and hygiene. Good oral health will also help the child eat comfortably and prevent cavities, which can cause pain.

Healthy baby teeth will also help the permanent teeth grow in correctly. Practicing good oral care now will set them up for success later!

Milk formula and fruit juice will often have sugars that can breed harmful bacteria that promotes tooth decay, especially if the tooth isn’t regularly cleaned and taken care of. Children who also use pacifiers that were dipped in sugary liquids or honey are also at risk.

How do I clean my baby’s teeth?

It’s important to first schedule a visit with your family dentist right when your infant grows their first tooth, or before their first birthday. Your dentist will be able to work with you on the correct way of cleaning your baby’s mouth.

Be sure to not let the child fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth. You can even gently dab the insides of their mouth to soak up leftover liquids before they go to bed.

When their tooth appears, you can use a toothbrush made for infants to clean the tooth. Until your child can spit on their own, use toothpaste that is free from fluoride. You may also choose to use no toothpaste at first, and slowly work up to using toothpaste (a small, pea-sized amount will suffice) as the child gets used to it.

You should be sure to also clean the gums that do not have teeth yet.

Is your baby ready for their first dental visit? Dr. Stephen Coates and his dental team welcome families and children of all ages, and are committed to helping you achieve beautiful smiles and maintain great oral health.

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

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Yes, Sleep Apnea Can Affect Young Children Too!

Snoring in children can be a sign of pediatric obstructive sleep apnea – something your family dentist can actually help you screen for & and treat.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by complications in breathing during sleep or rest. In obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), irregular breathing is generally caused by a narrowed or obstructed airway, which can cause snoring, long pauses in breathing, tossing and turning, and more.

Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain is not sending the proper signals to your muscles that control breathing.

OSA is far more common and can easily be screened for and eventually treated by your family dentist!

It’s important to note that people of all ages can have obstructive sleep apnea, and the signs and treatments may differ for children than for adults.

Signs of pediatric obstructive sleep apnea

Snoring is not the only sign of sleep apnea. In fact, children (and adults) with sleep apnea may not even snore at all.

Here are some other signs to look out for in your child:

  • Snoring or irregular breathing patterns
  • Restless sleep, including tossing and turning
  • Bedwetting
  • Teeth grinding, sometimes called bruxism
  • Behavioral issues, or inability to focus
  • Excessive napping, or trouble staying awake
  • Childhood obesity

Sleep issues like OSA that are left untreated in children can cause more complications later in life, including some of the aforementioned signs listed above. It is estimated that about 4% of children may have sleep apnea, and almost 30% of children diagnosed with ADHD were actually incorrectly diagnosed with ADHD and should have been treated for pediatric sleep apnea instead. A study has shown that undiagnosed pediatric sleep apnea can cause up to 20 points of IQ loss.

The next time you take your child to the dentist, ask them about pediatric OSA. Dentists are able to screen for this sleep disorder and can help you find the best treatment plan, which may include dental appliances or surgery.

Book your dental appointment now

The dental team along with Dr. Stephen Coates is committed to helping families in or near the Long Beach area find their smiles and live healthier lives through better oral care. Dr. Coates has years of experience in assessing and treating pediatric & adult sleep breathing disorders and works with a team of physicians and other health care specialists so his patients achieve optimal results.

To book your appointment online, use our scheduling tool here, or call us at 562-434-6414.

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Book Your Dental Appointment Now Before the Back-to-School Rush

While a regular dental check-up is necessary throughout the year, it’s especially important for children and teens to go before school starts.

According to the AAPD, almost 51 million school hours are missed due to dental-related health issues in the U.S. Set up your children for success and empower them to take care of their oral health by visiting your dentist soon.

To take action after all the foods and drinks consumed this summer, and to protect from future cavities and other periodontal diseases, follow these easy steps to prepare your child before school starts!

  • Schedule your dental visit today
    This can be a busy time for your dentist, as many other parents will also want to take their children in for a dental visit. To avoid the crowds and waiting times, we suggest you book an appointment soon so that you’re not rushing to secure one later.
  • Check with your school and dentist about dental emergencies
    Some schools may have options for your children to address health issues, though some may not offer dental help. If your child gets a chipped tooth or has other dental emergencies throughout the school year, be sure that your teachers are equipped with the right phone numbers to address the situation. Talk to your dentist about creating a plan for this scenario so you can be prepared in the case of a sudden emergency.
  • Encourage healthier snacks for lunch boxes
    If you pack your child’s lunch, or if you have influence over what the school offers during lunchtime, now is the time to introduce your child to healthier eating. Instead of packing chips or fruit loops, opt for nuts or low-sugar yogurt.
  • Create a daily routine for your child’s dental health
    It’s easy during the summer to loosen up on daily routines, especially caring for teeth. But with school right around the corner, it’s time to get your children back on track. Getting kids to care about anything can be hard, but we have some tips on making dental care fun for children here.

As a parent, we understand how difficult it can be to juggle the many facets of caring for a child. Let our experienced Long Beach-based team of family dentists and hygienists care for your family.

Book an appointment online, or speak to a receptionist by calling 562-434-6414.

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What are Dental Flippers, and Do I Need Them?

If you have to wait a few days for dental surgery to replace a missing tooth and do not want to have a visible gap in your teeth, then you may be offered flipper teeth in the interim.

Depending on your dental procedure, your teeth and gums may need some time to heal after an extraction and will require a resting period before getting your replacement tooth or teeth. If you are concerned about the appearance of your smile while waiting for the next procedure, you can opt for a dental flipper (sometimes called removable partial dentures) to restore the look of your smile temporarily.

Flipper teeth are acrylic resin replacements, intended for short-term use. They’re called flippers because they are easy to flip in and out – it’s a replacement tooth attached to a plate, like dentures, or wires, like bridges.

While they are a relatively inexpensive way to fix your smile, flippers are not recommended as a long-term solution for tooth replacement. They can break easily, and are not comfortable to eat with, much less even wear around the clock. Because of the materials used in making the flippers, they may also bend causing the grip to loosen over time.

If you are wearing flippers now, or will be using them soon, talk to your dentist about the best way to care for these dental appliances. In short, you should wash them after every meal, and at night before bed. Use a dental adhesive, like those marketed for dentures, to keep the flippers bonded securely. Additionally, try not to eat any hard foods while wearing the flippers, and stick to either liquid or soft foods.

If you have any questions about tooth replacement options, speak with Dr. Stephen Coates and his dental team today. Our family dentistry is located in Long Beach, and we have financing options to help you and your family maintain healthy and beautiful smiles, in addition to accepting many dental insurances.

Book your appointment with us by using our online system, or by calling us at 562-434-6414.

Take our free Smile Analysis here.

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Tips for Maintaining Good Oral Health Through BBQ Season

The 4th of July holiday is around the corner, which means the grills are heating up and food will be plentiful.

By this point, you have probably hosted or attended a few barbecues, but it’s never too late to think of ways to protect your smile during the summer of food, drinks, and festivities. After all, a healthy smile is important for your social and love life, and there will be plenty of parties this season!

Before you light up your next grill, take these steps to protect your oral health.

  • Schedule a fluoride treatment soon
    With all the BBQ sauce and sugary drinks you’ve been consuming, it would help to get a professional-quality tooth cleaning and fluoride treatment to prevent tooth decay. This treatment is generally recommended for children, people who consume water primarily from bottles, adults who consume a lot of sugar or carbohydrates (there’s a lot of us!), or just about anyone who’s concerned about the health of their teeth and gums.After your fluoride treatment, you can add an extra layer of protection and get a sealant to fight off future oral maladies.
  • Brush up on your dental cleaning routine
    We all need a reminder and refresher sometimes when it comes to routine tasks. Even if you do brush your teeth every day, it’s important to check in with yourself and ensure that you’re doing all the things dentists recommend for at-home care, like brushing for two minutes, flossing, and more. Check our article on home dental care for more information.
  • Seek healthier alternatives for your BBQ menu
    When you’re picking up foods for your next barbecue, opt for low-sugar options to protect your teeth. Sugar can wreak havoc on your oral hygiene, so it’s important to moderate your consumption of it. Remember that sugar is hidden in a lot of over-the-counter items, like BBQ sauce.

There are many other ways you can protect your teeth this summer, so schedule a visit with your dentist and dental hygienist soon so that they can provide you with the help you need. A healthy smile means a healthy you, so that you can enjoy many more summers and 4th of July barbecues!

Let Dr. Coates and his dental team in Long Beach help get you the smile you want. Schedule an appointment with us online, or call us at 562-434-6414.

Take our free Smile Analysis here.

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Help Dad Celebrate Father’s Day With A Smile

This Father’s Day, give the gift of a bright smile with the help of an oral care product!

Even if your dad doesn’t necessarily need help maintaining good oral health, these gifts will be sure to make him show off that great smile — and he can keep it maintained far into the future.

An electric toothbrush

Our dental office loves electric toothbrushes. These devices, when used correctly and for the right amount of time, can enhance your dental cleaning routine, leaving you feeling fresher and cleaner than before. They’re easier to use than manual brushes, and more effective. This makes them particularly thoughtful gifts for aging dads, who won’t have to worry or soldier through potentially painful or tiring repetitive motions and can instead enjoy a quick and comfortable tooth brushing with an electric tooth brush.

Everyone loves the feeling of a clean mouth, and we’re sure your dad is no exception.

A water flosser

A small device that shoots a strong and steady thin stream of water is not only fun, but also more effective than regular flossing, according to dental studies. Again, this automatic device makes flossing a lot easier and will do a better job than manual flossing.

Reusable straws

Better than plastic or paper straws, metal straws can be washed, reused, and carried around so that a straw is always available. They will help save the environment while also saving your enamel.

Using a straw to drink coffee, tea, and even wine is a great way for you to avoid the risk of staining your teeth (though, to be honest, you’d need to drink a lot in order to cause noticeable change.) But, if you’re dealing with a toothache or coming out from dental surgery, a straw is definitely a useful tool.

2-minute sand timer

While it’s not difficult to set up a 2-minute timer on your phone to help you brush for the right length of time, it’s not always easy to remember. Having a sand timer (a small hourglass that will take two minutes to sift) right by the sink is a quirky, fun way to define that time.

Plus, guys always love a good “vintage” item!

Even if you aren’t able to give your dad a gift for Father’s Day, simply spending time with him is a gift in of itself. Offer to go with him to his next dental appointment. Book your next visit with Dr. Coates and his dental team today in Long Beach. Call us at 562-434-6414 or schedule online.

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