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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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Tips for Maintaining Good Oral Health for Kids this Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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How Your Dentist Can Tell That You Might Have Acid Reflux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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