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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.


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.


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.


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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Will Ocean Water Affect My Oral Health?

In general, taking a dip in the ocean and getting a bit of water in your mouth every now and then should not pose any concerns, especially if you have a good, daily oral care routine.

In fact, salt water can be good for your teeth in small amounts. A salt water rinse is often recommended to patients after some dental surgeries or procedures, as they can help fight infections and reduce pain. People who have mouth sores or a sore throat might also find some temporary relief with salt rinses as well. A good mixture is about a half teaspoon of table salt for every cup of water. Mix well, and rinse in your mouth for about 30 seconds.

However, salt water rinses are a little different compared to natural ocean water – which contains a lot more than just salt water!

Ocean water can also carry a lot of unwanted bacteria, so we definitely do not recommend you use ocean water in place of salt water for a rinse at home. If you’re spending some time at the beach, take a small bottle of mouthwash or bring your toothbrush and paste before heading out for a meal afterwards.

Those who find themselves around water, whether it be a pool or the ocean, should take extra steps to protect their oral health.

Overexposure to chlorine in water can damage your teeth

Known as swimmer’s teeth or swimmer’s calculus, hard brown and yellow deposits can form on your teeth if you’re a swimmer who spends a handful of hours per week in a chlorine-treated pool.

Too much chlorine can also erode your enamel, causing pain from heightened sensitivity and weak teeth that will be susceptible to cracking.

Work with your dentist for the best dental care plan

If you’re an avid swimmer, surfer, scuba diver or anything that involves you being in water frequently, then the best course of action you can take is to work with your dentist. Communicate your lifestyle, habits, and schedule so that your dentist can help you create a custom dental care routine.

You may want to look into some preventative treatments, like dental sealants, which can be applied in a matter of minutes by your dentist.

And, of course, be sure to brush your teeth twice a day, for at least two minutes each time, and use mouthwash and floss.

Need to make a visit to a dentist? Book your appointment with Dr. Coates. He and his dental team have been servicing the families and residents of Long Beach and surrounding areas for decades, helping people just like you maintain optimum oral health, no matter your situation. Call today at 562-434-6414 or schedule an appointment online.

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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.

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