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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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How Are Teeth Affected By Sugar?

February is the month of love, where Valentine’s Day offers us a moment to reflect on the special people in our lives. And of course, what better way to show affection than through food and candy?

It’s no secret that chocolate sales are at a peak during this time, and all that great Valentine’s candy will be on sale soon. While it is tempting to reach for those clearance candies, take a moment to think about how all that sugar may affect your oral health.

At this point, you probably know that sugar is bad for your teeth and that the more sugar you consume, the more likely you are to get cavities and other dental issues. It is true that sweets can lead to oral issues and cavities, but just know that – like most things in life – it’s all about moderation and how you take care of yourself.

Is sugar the problem?

A diet high in sugar can certainly lead to tooth decay, but the problem isn’t actually the sugar itself.

Right now, there exists a lot of bacteria in your mouth, most of them good and necessary for the oral ecosystem. When you consume sugar, some of the bacteria react with the carbohydrates and produce acids that can suck essential minerals from your enamel, which can lead to tooth decay and cavities.

It’s that “demineralization” process that causes oral issues. Luckily, our bodies have a natural response to this through saliva, which contains minerals like calcium to help reverse the process. Fluoride also helps with this, which is why it’s so prevalent in our water and tooth care products.

However, this natural process can only do so much to protect your enamel if you’re constantly consuming sugar and not taking measures to fully protect your teeth.

Have your cake and eat it too!

So now that we know what leads to tooth decay, you and your dentist can collaborate on creating a treatment plan that will allow you to indulge in the foods you want while still preventing cavities. Meanwhile, educating your loved ones on the process will also help them see that importance of maintaining good oral hygiene, so that they can learn the importance of moderating their sugar diet, too.

We recommend that you:

  • Continue to brush at least two times a day, 2 minutes each time.
  • Continue to floss daily BEFORE you brush.
  • Use mouthwash after consuming sugary foods.
  • Encourage saliva production by chewing on sugarless gum and eating fibrous veggies and fruits.
  • Switch to yogurt as a sweets replacement since it contains calcium and phosphates, which are important for strong enamels.
  • See your dentist regularly for check-ups, deep cleaning, and possible fluoride treatments.

Dr. Stephen Coates and his experienced dental staff in Long Beach have all the information and tools you need to lead a healthy life and protect your mouth. Talk with us about creating a dental plan that will allow you to lead a fulfilling life while still maintaining good oral health.

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

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The Relationship Between Your Love Life and Oral Health

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, meaning that love is in the air, and roses need to be bought.

Whether you’re single and looking to mingle, or you’re looking to reignite the flame between you and your partner, it’s important to look at your overall oral health and hygiene.

A 2016 study out of the University of Queensland demonstrated that those who “avoided emotional intimacy” or had a partner who was untrustworthy or unreliable were more likely to experience negative oral health issues.

It’s possible that this is because cohabitating with someone encourages you to stay healthy and keep clean. Also, not many people like the idea of having to kiss someone with bad breath and hygiene.

But even if you aren’t living with someone, having good oral health should still be a top priority. If you’re going on dates and searching for love, you’d want to put your best mouth forward.

And even if you aren’t trying to date at the moment, good oral health is still important for a variety of reasons:

  • Good oral hygiene promotes good health overall.
  • Having a great smile helps you seem more approachable.
  • Bad oral health can lead to further complications and more expenses.

So before you head out for your date on Valentine’s Day – and possibly consume delicious chocolate and other sweets – set up an appointment for a teeth cleaning so you can look your best!

If you need a deep cleaning or have other dental health needs, let the staff here at our Long Beach, CA dentistry help you achieve your best smile. Book your appointment online, or call us at 562-434-6414.

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Would Invisalign Be an Effective Treatment for You?

In the not-so-distant past, if you wanted straighter teeth, you were met with limited options. We had braces, implants, and veneers, each with their own set of pros and cons, but now we have one more viable option: clear-aligner treatment.

What is Invisalign?

Clear aligners are plastic trays custom-made for your mouth designed to help straighten your teeth. You would get multiple trays during a set period of time, with each tray molded to gradually move your teeth closer to the desired placement.

These new orthodontic devices have been made popular recently due to the rise in popularity of companies like Invisalign, ClearCorrect, and Inman Aligner.

What’s the benefit of using clear aligners?

People often prefer the appearance of clear aligners to clunky braces on their teeth. Additionally, unlike braces, you can remove these clear plastic aligners to eat and drink as you normally would. Because of this, many people prefer aligners since braces restrict the kinds of food you can consume.

The clean-up process is also much easier with trays, and you can continue to stay on your normal hygiene schedule with flossing and brushing. While you cannot eat or drink anything else besides water while wearing the aligners (because you might damage the integrity of the trays), the major benefit is that you can eat whatever you want once you remove the aligners. Braces, meanwhile, limit the foods you can eat and cannot be removed from your teeth until the end of the braces alignment program.

However, you cannot leave the trays on for longer than the recommended amount of time. Depending on your customized plan, most will suggest that you wear the aligners for 22 hours of the day.

Are there downsides to using aligners?

One must be aware of the potential pain and discomfort because any orthodontic device you have to wear for straightening your teeth is not going to be comfortable. For braces, many people say that the worse time is when it’s time to get them tightened, which occurs about once a month. For aligners, a new tray may cause discomfort for the first couple of days but then that usually goes away.

While the pain will subside after a few days of wearing them, some people might still prefer braces, as you cannot remove them yourself and you can still eat (from a limited menu, of course) while still wearing them.

Which teeth straightening treatment is best for me?

Your dentist will be the best place to get more information about the recommended path for you. They will discuss the pros and cons in more detail, so that you can make the choice that best fits your lifestyle and budget.

Dr. Stephen Coates and his experienced dental staff have helped numerous families and individuals in and around the Long Beach, CA area with their dental care for decades, and offer Invisalign treatment for those who want a better smile.

Let us help you, too. Book your appointment using our online system, or give us a call at 562-434-6414.

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