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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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Could Migraine Headaches Be Caused By Dental Issues?

Headaches can be caused by a myriad of issues, but chronic migraines are the sign of a bigger problem. If you go to your family practitioner or urgent care, you may be prescribed something to deal with the tension headaches. But did you know that your dentist can actually help you with your headaches? It’s possible that the root of your migraines could stem from your mouth!

People have two Temporomandibular Joints (TMJs) that connect the sides of the jaw to the skull. These joints are used frequently when you’re chewing, talking, and even yawning. Pain that starts in those joints or in the muscles surrounding them can travel to the skull, and will often become tension headaches.

TMJD (or Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction) is characterized as the pain or compromised movement of the jaw and the surrounding muscles, and it’s an issue that’s experienced by millions of Americans every day. The causes of TMJD vary case by case, but include:

  • Stress
  • Severe chewing or crunching
  • Teeth grinding or bruxism
  • Arthritis or jaw injury
  • Misaligned jaw

Having any of the aforementioned challenges may not mean that you have TMJD, but these are still oral issues that can cause headaches.

If seeing your dentist is not possible at the earliest moment, try doing these things to help alleviate the pain:

  • Wear a mouthguard at night to inhibit teeth grinding
  • Massage your temples to relieve headaches and jaw pain
  • Lessen the amount of overall jaw use, like chewing and talking

If you live in or near the Long Beach, CA area, then let Dr. Stephen Coates and his experienced dental staff take care of your dental needs. Book your appointment now online or by phone at 562-434-6414.

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How to Make Oral Health a Priority for 2019

The turn of the year is the perfect time to reflect on the past 12 months and make resolutions on how to make the coming new year even better!

But as we all know, New Year’s Resolutions don’t always stick, and many of us will likely lose the motivation a few weeks into the new year. Better health is a common resolution to make, and a common one to lose. There’s a reason why so many gyms offer great discounts at the beginning of year!

If better health is on the docket for you in 2019, oral health is a great place to start. Many scientific studies have shown the direct correlation between oral health and the health of the rest of your body.

Just recently, a study at the University of L’Aquila in Italy discovered that those with periodontal disease or at risk of getting it had a 20% higher chance of having high blood pressure. Additionally, people with high blood pressure but who have healthy gums received better results from medications made to lower blood pressure.

This is just one of the many studies conducted in the past decade that proves that having good oral health, or even having good habits for maintaining good oral hygiene, can positively affect your overall health – and ultimately your overall quality of life!

To start the new year off right, here’s what we recommend:

  • Check the insurance you have for dental coverage.
    First, look through your current insurance to see if you’re covered for dental. A quick call or email to your employer’s HR department can help. Most companies and insurance companies now offer access to your documents via an online portal that you can log into.

    Then, check to see if it’s possible to change your plan if you’re not happy with it. Around this time of the year, many companies offer open enrollment, where you can change or add or remove plans. Enrollment period may end soon for you, so check quickly!

    Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, getting coverage is easy if your employer does not offer dental insurance. Even the lowest tier of plans will cover preventative care like dental cleanings, exams and x-rays. Check this site for more information.

  • Schedule an appointment with your local dentist.
    If you don’t already have a dentist, now is the time to find one. A quick Google search will reveal great dental offices in your area. Give them a call to see if they have any openings that fit your schedule. If you’re located in or near Long Beach, we’d be happy to schedule an appointment.
  • Have a list of questions and concerns to bring up to your dentist.
    The dental team is there to help every patient feel valued and cared for. Don’t be afraid to ask about the services provided and what to expect from the different services! Talk to them about your oral care routine and ask about what to do to better care for your teeth.

    Have a discussion about your overall lifestyle, too. Dentists want to know if you play sports, what your eating habits are like, and what you do for work, because it will help them determine the best treatment and preventative plans fit for you.

  • Enlist friends, family, and technology to help.
    If you’re being held accountable to a goal, chances are that you’re more likely to reach it. Have a network of people who are there to motivate you to improve your oral health. Add a nightly routine where you and your roommate brush your teeth together for two minutes, or look for a dentist together with a sibling.

    There are also several mobile phone apps designed to help you stay on track. A popular one for children and adults is called Brush DJ, which has a variety of tools that make oral hygiene fun and easy. You can even have Alexa or Siri set up reminders to tell you when to brush your teeth.

  • Break up your goals into actionable steps.
    Studies have shown that when people have tangible, short-term goals rather than long-term and vague ones, they are more likely to not only achieve those smaller goals, but also keep them in the long-run. That’s because the motivation you get from achieving small goals snowballs into the next step, and so forth.

    Consider setting up goals like “floss every morning,” “use mouthwash immediately after dessert,” “buy portable floss to carry when eating out,” “schedule an appointment with my dentist,” or even “buy a mouthguard” if you tend to grind your teeth at night (referred to as bruxism) or for when you play sports.

Having healthy teeth and gums does not have to be hard. All it takes is having the right team of experts to help you along the way!

Our dental office led by Dr. Stephen Coates has been servicing the Long Beach, CA area for decades, helping families and individuals achieve optimum oral health and gorgeous smiles. Schedule your appointment now using our online system, or by calling 562-434-6414.

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Why You Might Need to See a Dentist Before Elective Surgery

If you’ve ever had to prepare for a planned surgery, your doctor may have asked you to see your dentist first to get a Dental Clearance Letter to ensure that your teeth are in good condition before the day of the surgery. But why?

Elective surgery is a surgery that is scheduled days in advance – as opposed to an emergency surgery. Depending on your situation, you may be administered general anesthesia orally before the procedure. If you have any fractures or other dental issues, then complications may occur.

An anesthesiologist assigned to your case will meet with you days before your surgery to visually inspect your mouth to look for signs of problems. Unfortunately, they do not have the knowledge and experience to assess subtle signs of infection nor will they take dental x-rays to look for deep infection in the bones. They should ask that you see your dentist immediately if there are any overt issues. Most hospitals will require a dental clearance before joint replacements, heart surgery, and radiation/chemotherapy. Some issues that may pose a problem with surgery preparation include:

  • Tooth decay, abscessed tooth, or cavities
  • Infection or gum disease
  • Bleeding or swollen gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth fractures or chipping

According to research from NCBI, a large number of lawsuits against anesthesiologists involve damaged teeth, so the Dental Clearance Letter protects both you and the anesthesiologist.

What’s more, there are many additional reasons why seeing a dentist before surgery is a good idea. One such reason is to help prevent the onset of infective endocarditis – an infection of the inner tissues of the heart. Bacteria known to cause this infection may be present in your mouth and, if left untreated, could travel through your bloodstream to the surgery site.

Your dentist will also need to know what surgery is being performed and what medication you may be taking so that they can help create an oral care plan for you. Some side effects may include weakened or bleeding gums, so your dentist will want to prepare you for that.

If you need a dental check-up before your upcoming surgery, schedule with our Long Beach dental office and meet with our team today. Call us at 562-434-6414.

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Keep Your Teeth Healthy This Holiday Season by Monitoring These Foods

We’re in the middle of holiday season already, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t stop to think about your oral health.

However, we understand that this may not be the time you want to devote to thinking about health. After all, this season is all about giving, both to others and to yourself. It’s a time to indulge in the things we normally wouldn’t throughout the year, like cookies, candies, and eggnog.

Taking care of your oral health does not mean you can’t consume these goodies this season, or ever. Like everything in life, moderation is key, and just simply being aware of the foods you should moderate will make caring for your teeth a whole lot easier in the near future.

Here are some foods that dentists and dental hygienists recommend that you keep an eye on:

  1. Alcohol, like in eggnog or wine
    It’s easy to drink more alcoholic beverages this season, between the parties, family gatherings, and general holiday cheer (or stress). But alcoholic drinks aren’t only damaging to your body, they can also wreak havoc on your teeth.

    Red wine can stain your enamel, and its acidity can also weaken it. You may have read reports that red wine is good for your health, but again, in moderation! Consider brushing your teeth after a glass or two of red wine.

    Additionally, alcohol can cause dry mouth, which isn’t good for saliva creation. This could lead to tooth decay and gum diseases. The sugars in alcoholic drinks are also bad for your teeth, so take care with your intake!

  2. Candies, especially candy cane
    These sweet treats may taste delicious, but their high sugar content is rough for your teeth and can cause cavities. What’s more, the hard texture of popular sweets like candy canes aren’t good for keeping your teeth healthy.

    A candy cane here and there is probably fine, especially if you already have good, strong teeth, but the intense crunch can potentially weaken your enamel and cause a tooth fracture, and the little pieces it breaks into may scratch the inside of your mouth, like your gums.

  3. Hot chocolate
    The cold season is a popular time to heat up a mug of steaming hot chocolate and sip it by the fireplace. No doubt it is delicious and maybe even relaxing.

    However, consider keeping your consumption of chocolate to a minimum, as the sugar content in those instant hot chocolate packs can be quite high. Try something different this season, and go for a darker cocoa with low sugar content, which is better for your overall and oral health.

  4. Cranberry sauce
    Homemade cranberry sauce can be absolutely delicious, and it makes a great topping for a lot of different foods like turkey or ham.

    But, be wary of popular cranberry sauce recipes or canned sauce as, of course, the sugar content can be very high. Try making your own without using as much sugar, and if the recipe calls for citrus zest or juice, try using less of that too. Citric acid, if it has the chance to sit on your teeth for a while, can erode enamel over time.

The key to enjoying holiday foods is to monitor your eating habits, but also keep your good oral cleaning habits, too. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day, 2 minutes at a time, and use floss at least once a day. A lot of foods can sneak in between your teeth, especially those delicious sauces like gravy and molasses.

We recommend getting a deep clean or fluoride treatment before the onset of holiday eating, and after to maintain, or maybe even enhance, your oral health. And while you’re with your dental hygienist, ask them for advice on keeping your teeth healthy through the season.

Our Long Beach, CA dental office has helped hundreds of patients and their families maintain good health and achieve amazing smiles. Come in and let us help you take care of your teeth. Book online today, or call us at 562-434-6414.

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How Do I Convince My Teen to Go to the Dentist?

Raising kids is hard. But as any parent of teens will tell you, raising teenagers is especially difficult! It’s already hard enough to convince them to do their chores and homework, much less care about their oral health. According to the CDC, about 1 of every 5 children under the age of 19 have untreated dental cavities. It’s also estimated that about 40% of teens do not brush their teeth the recommended twice per day.

Going to the dentist as a child is important, and for teenagers, it’s an especially important time for their teeth. The care and maintenance habits they create now will help them as adults.

So, how do you convince your teenager to care about their teeth and go to the dentist? Here are some of our suggestions…

  1. First, YOU have to care about YOUR teeth.
    Parents love to say “Do as I say, not as I do.” Truth be told, children learn the habits of the people that raise them, so if you visit the dentist often and take care of your teeth at home, then that lesson is ingrained in your children at an early age.
  2. Start taking them to the dentist at a young age.
    As soon as a child gets their first tooth, pediatric dentists recommend that you take your child to their first dental appointment. If you keep that routine of visiting your family dentist as they grow up, then the child will grow accustomed to it. Even better if you go to the same dentist who provides quality care for you and your family.
  3. Help make oral hygiene fun or rewarding for them.
    Even if they say they aren’t kids anymore, teens still like to have fun, and like to be rewarded for doing something they’re supposed to do. At an early age, teach your kids that teeth cleaning is fun. As they grow up, they’ll find other things interesting. Help them decorate their bathroom that keeps their interest, like including a Bluetooth speaker so they can play music or putting up posters of their favorite bands.
  4. Explain to them in detail the consequences of bad oral hygiene.
    While appearances aren’t everything, teenagers put a lot of value in their look and in how others perceive them. You can let them know that their teeth and smile is a big part of that. However, take them through the health issues of bad oral hygiene as well. Show them pictures of mouths afflicted by gum disease, plaque buildup, etc. so they can see what may happen if they do not see their dentist. Having periodontal issues can have a negative effect on their quality of life.
  5. Work with the school or PTA to include dental care programs.
    If teens see that other teens care about something, then they will likely follow suit. And the best place to gather a big group is at their schools, or even at extracurriculars. Talk to your peers and see what creative ideas you can come up with to get your children to care more about their oral hygiene and what’s working for them.

Dr. Stephen Coates is a trusted family dentist with a dental staff who has been servicing families in and around the Long Beach area. Book your appointment with us today online, or by calling us at 562-434-6414.

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What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer


Oral cancer, sometimes referred to as mouth cancer, refers to cancerous cells that develop in any part of the mouth. This includes the lips, cheeks, tongue, gums, and the roof and floor of the mouth. According to the nonprofit Oral Cancer Foundation, it is estimated that 132 new individuals are diagnosed with oral cancer every day. Like other cancers, early detection and treatment are key to surviving this disease.

Oral cancer is categorized by a group of cancers called head and neck cancer. Patients will often be referred to an Ear-Nose-and-Throat (ENT) Doctor or an otolaryngologist for specialized care and examination.

However, your dentist should actually be your first contact if you think you’re showing signs or symptoms of mouth cancer. A dentist can look for signs of other infections, and will be able to refer you to an ENT specialist when it is necessary.

Common signs of mouth cancer include:

  • Unexplained pain, bleeding, or numbness in the mouth or neck
  • Persistent swelling, lumps, or sores in the mouth that take too long to heal
  • Jaw pain or stiffness, difficulty chewing or eating
  • Difficulty swallowing or unexplained pain the throat
  • Unexplained teeth shifting
  • Ear pain but no ear infection

Some common symptoms of oral cancer may look a lot like other oral infections and periodontal diseases. It’s important to see your dentist before making any assumptions.

Almost anyone is at risk for oral cancer, but there are things you can avoid to lower your chances of getting it:

  • Stop smoking: Research shows that tobacco use and even vaping increases your risk of getting cancer.
  • Limit alcohol intake: Studies have determined a strong link between drinking alcohol and being diagnosed with cancer.
  • Get tested for the human papillomavirus: HPV is a known risk factor.
  • Limit sun exposure: Your lips tend to get hit by UV rays often, so consider wearing lip balm with sun protection.
  • See your dentist often: It’s important to catch cancer at an early stage in order to effectively treat it, so make regular appointments with your dentist who can monitor your symptoms and look for early signs of the disease.

Book your appointment with our Long Beach dentistry today and get more information about prevention and treatment of oral cancer and other periodontal diseases. Use our online system here or call us at 562-434-6414. Dr. Coates and his team look are dedicated to your health & beauty!

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