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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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Why You Grind Your Teeth and How to Stop

If you wake up with a headache accompanied by pain in or around your mouth, you could be grinding your teeth at night.

Bruxism is the involuntary and habitual clenching or grinding of your teeth in your sleep, and it’s a common issue in many people regardless of age. Sometimes, a little bit of teeth-clenching may not be problematic, but if the issue isn’t addressed, it can lead to other oral issues in addition to the painful symptoms like headaches, earaches, disrupted sleep, and more.

Grinding your teeth at night could also be symptomatic of bigger issues, like TMJ disorder (Tempro-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction), which affects how your jaw functions, or it can be a sign of an airway issue.

People who suffer from TMJ disorder have trouble biting and even simply opening and closing their mouths can be difficult. The reason why you might have TMJ varies and is sometimes hard to determine, but most people with it will experience some kind of teeth grinding, causing more issues.

If there is restriction in your airway it can trigger clenching and grinding as a way to activate the muscles of the head and neck to help open and stabilize the airway.  If a child is grinding their teeth you need to see a dentist and/or physician familiar with pediatric airway development.

Bruxism can cause tooth decay and breakage

The most common reason you’d want to address your teeth grinding is that over time, the constant friction can wear down your enamel. You can fracture or break your teeth, which can also affect your appearance and overall oral health.

You can receive dental procedures like dental crowns and bridges to fix fractured teeth, but prevention is definitely the best course of action in this case.

How do I stop grinding my teeth?

If you’re already experiencing some pain and visible damage to your teeth, you should visit your dentist right away.

In the meantime, you can wear mouthguards while you sleep to protect your teeth from the grinding. Our Long Beach dental office can also provide custom mouthguards for optimal fit and protection.

Why you might be grinding your teeth varies from person to person, but stress is often a contributing factor for bruxism. Find ways to relieve stress, like meditation or drinking tea, and be sure to not drink alcohol or caffeine right before bed.

As mentioned earlier, airway issues can trigger it so being assessed by a dentist familiar with airway development can help give you possible solutions that can treat airway, etc.

Your dentist can work with you on ways to protect yourself from teeth grinding, as well as the best course of action to fix the damaged teeth you might have because of it.

Dr. Stephen Coates has extensive training in these topics so book your dental appointment with our Long Beach office today using our online system, or by calling 562-434-6414.

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Do You Have Trouble Eating Due to a Broken Tooth?

The holidays are just around the corner, and you know what that means — plenty of food to be cooked and eaten!

But, if you’ve been dealing with a broken or decaying tooth, then eating may have become cumbersome to you. You’re probably thinking you won’t be able to enjoy that warm, delicious stuffing with croutons, or the readily available bowl of chips to snack on.

Don’t let a damaged tooth stop you from eating what you want. In just a matter of days, a dental crown or a cap can help you enjoy the food you’ve been avoiding all this time. Crowns are an easy procedure for you and the dentist, and they take very little time.

What is a dental crown?

A crown, or a cap, is a custom-made hard covering that encases your entire tooth, restoring it to the original shape and size. Crowns are typically made of porcelain, due to its affordability, durability, reliability, and the fact that it looks natural with a color that matches the rest of your teeth.

To create the dental crown, your dentist will scan your mouth to help create the right shape for fit and appearance. Then, a mold will be created to for a temporary crown that you can wear until your permanent one is made.

Not only do dental caps help you take a bite out of your favorite foods again, but they also restore your smile. Eating and smiling without worry will increase your confidence, helping you lead a happier, healthier life!

Do I need a crown?

For many patients, the dental staff will do everything they can to restore your teeth naturally. But often times, restorations like dental crowns are necessary. Your dentist will work with you to determine the best procedure for your case.

Schedule your dental appointment today and see what options are available for you and your dental insurance. Book online now, or call our Long Beach dental office at 562-434-6414.

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Snoring Children and Sleep Apnea

A snoring child seems hardly a cause for concern. Maybe you think that it could just be the way their head is positioned, so you just try changing their pillow or moving their head to see if that makes a difference.

Snoring for ANY child is a signal that something is wrong with their airway and you should be very concerned. Other remedies you can try include nasal strips or a dietary change. Check to see if your child has a cold or fever, in which case you’ll need to clear their sinuses with medication or nasal spray, or using a bulb syringe — sometimes called a nasal aspirator. These are usually located in the infant aisle of retail stores.

But what if all of that doesn’t work? What if your child’s snoring seems to be a chronic condition? Before you head over to WebMD or self-diagnose using search engine results, we recommend going to your family dentist who is trained in looking for signs and symptoms of sleep breathing disorders so that you can get a professional opinion.

Your oral health and condition can influence how you sleep, including whether snoring may occur. Sleep apnea, or sometimes called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), is a condition that affects millions of Americans, young and old. OSA is defined as intermittent airflow blockage during sleep, which is treatable but sometimes a sign of greater health issues. Because of this, professional diagnosis and treatment is recommended. Additionally, there is another sleep disordered breathing condition called upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS), which is when the airway may not necessarily close off but can become so small that the body just can’t get enough oxygen to properly function.

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, it’s estimated that 1 in 4 children have some kind of pediatric sleep disorder. They’ve also determined that about 25% of children diagnosed with ADHD have symptoms of OSA, in which their irregular sleeping patterns may lay the foundation for their learning disabilities and their inability to focus for long periods of time.

To test whether your child has OSA or UARS, a dentist may employ a screening test to diagnose the issue. The test is safe and non-intrusive, and will provide your family and the dentist with the information they need to work with a pediatric sleep physician and craft a custom treatment plan to address potential pediatric sleep disordered breathing.

To learn more about how the diagnosis works, getting options for treatment, or for more information on sleep apnea, you can read our blog post here. We also encourage you to schedule an appointment with your dentist to receive customized help and planning!

Book your next check-up or appointment with our Long Beach dental office using our online system here, or by calling us at 562-434-6414.

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How a Smile Can Enhance Your Love Life?

“Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

Mother Teresa

We smile a lot throughout the day, often not even noticing when or why we do. It costs nothing to smile, but yet the returns are amazing!

According to hundreds of studies and research, smiling is in fact contagious — and for good reason. Not only does smiling have great benefits for you and your health, it also spreads positivity to others. It tells people that you’re a warm and approachable person, and one of the most basic needs we have is to feel safe and comfortable wherever we are.

And that warmness is only the beginning of love. A person’s smile has been recorded as one of the top attractive traits in a person. If smiling is so powerful at the beginning of a relationship, imagine its power throughout one. It brings warmth, comfort, agreeability… all very important elements to a strong relationship. When you smile, you’re happy, your partner is happy, and everyone around you feels and responds to that.

Achieving a better, more attractive smile is not hard to do. The more time you invest in creating a better smile for yourself, the more you’ll receive in the long run! Happiness leads to better relationships with family and friends, more income at work, and more self-confidence.

Here are some ways you can achieve a better smile:

  • Whitening your teeth: Whiter teeth means a brighter smile. It stands out more, and also subconsciously signals your good oral health to others. There are plenty of over-the-counter products that promise whiter teeth, but the best route is to go into your dentist’s office for a professional teeth cleaning and whitening procedure.
  • Proper hygiene for good breath and healthy gums: Having a daily routine to clean your teeth and gums is important for good-looking teeth. Red and swollen gums due to poor hygiene can cause you to smile less, and having bad breath doesn’t help either. Brush often, use mouthwash, and floss daily to keep periodontal disease at bay.
  • Teeth straightening: Thanks to modern science and the advancements of technology, having straighter teeth is easier than ever. More adults today can afford braces, and veneers have become more affordable and effective.

What options are available for you?

Not sure what procedures you need for a better smile — and want to know more about what your insurance can do for your dental health? Schedule an appointment with our Long Beach dental office today, and speak with Dr. Stephen Coates about how you can achieve a better smile.

You can book using our online system, or call our dentistry at 562-434-6414.

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Do You Have Trouble Sleeping? Your Dentist Can Help!

If you’re not getting enough sleep despite your best efforts to live a healthy life, then it’s time to call your dentist.

Sleep apnea (or obstructive sleep apnea / OSA) and upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) is estimated to affect over 18 million Americans, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This common condition occurs when the airway is repeatedly blocked or severely restricted during sleep, causing reduced airflow, paused breathing, snoring, and more.

Because of this, people with sleep apnea do not get the rest they need to be refreshed and ready for the next day. Daytime fatigue and lack of sleep may be due to insomnia, but it can also be caused by irregular breathing patterns at night. And this is where your dentist can step in!

The link between your oral health and sleep apnea

There are many signs a dentist may see to determine whether your oral health plays a role in your sleep. Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a common sign. Other visual indications may include a smaller jaw or enlarged tongue. For patients with UARS gastric reflux can occur which causes acid from the stomach to come up and can start to dissolve teeth. In many cases, your dentist provide a screening exam such as a high resolution pulse oximeter (HRPO) or may refer you to a sleep study, or polysomnogram, to get an official diagnosis.

A typical nocturnal polysomnography will include hooking the patient up to a machine at night to measure various bodily functions, from heart and lung activity to arm and leg movements. This painless test is usually conducted under the care of a sleep technician. Depending on the severity of your condition, portable at-home tests may be given to the patient instead.

Treatment options for sleep apnea

If the tests determine that you do have OSA, then your dentist will work with you to create a customized solution to help you get a better night’s sleep. Having more rest leads to a happier, healthier life, and who doesn’t want that?

One of the most common suggestions is for the patient to cut down on or stop smoking and alcohol consumption, as those things typically worsen the condition. After some lifestyle changes are recommended, the dentist may talk with you about certain devices to help you breathe while you’re asleep.

One of the most common medical devices for patients with OSA is the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, which is essentially a sleep mask that assists in opening up your airways. It’s a bit bulky and for some patients it can be somewhat uncomfortable, but luckily there are other dental appliances available. These devices may be covered by your insurance.

Sometimes, surgery may be the best option for certain patients. It’s a more permanent solution that will adjust your mouth and jaw, leaving more room for air to flow through.

Ready for better sleep?

If you’d like to understand better why you’re not sleeping well at night, let Dr. Stephen Coates and his experienced staff help. Book your appointment using our online system, or call our Long Beach dental office at 562-434-6414.

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Gum Disease Can Adversely Affect Your Quality of Life

A smile is a powerful thing! It costs very little to do and yet can yield a lot of positive outcomes, like more friendships, better job prospects, and a happier life in general.

There are many documented studies all around the world that prove the power of a smile. One British study showed that smiling stimulates the brain in the same way receiving $25,000 does. An amazing 30-year study out of UC Berkeley measured the smiles of teenagers in their yearbook photos, and collected data in their later years like test scores, relationship fulfillment, and how inspiring they were to others. Those with the widest smiles consistently scored the highest.

But you don’t need science to prove how much a smile is worth. Just take note of all the people you encounter every day, and then see how many of them smile and brighten up your mood. Smiling is contagious (again, scientifically proven) so not only do you feel better about yourself, but everyone else feels better too! As Mother Teresa once said, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”

Gum disease is the enemy of a good smile

Without good dental hygiene, this almighty tool loses its power. A study from the University of Michigan revealed that people who exhibit signs and symptoms of gum disease, no matter how severe, were less likely to smile at their full extent, and often times end up covering their mouths to smile or laugh.

Gum disease — inflammation of the gum line that can affect the bone and surrounding teeth — is diagnosed in millions of Americans. Millions more live without realizing they’re showing signs of it, because symptoms are relatively painless. Some of the early signs of gum disease may include:

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Sensitive bleeding gums or discharge around gumlines
  • Receding gumlines
  • Chronic bad breath, or bad taste in mouth
  • Loose teeth

There are also three different stages or degrees of gum disease: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Knowing what stage of gum disease you’re at will help inform your dentist on the best treatment for your condition.

It’s also important to note that gum disease can do more than just harm your smile; it can harm your overall health, too. Studies have shown strong links between periodontal disease and heart disease, stroke, stomach issues, diabetes, and even complications in pregnancy.

How do I prevent gum disease?

Like you do with any disease, prevention is key. Good, thorough, and daily oral care is of course necessary, but routine dental check-ups are where you’ll get the best information. Your dentist will actively look for signs of gum disease and work with you on changing your daily routine if they are concerned about your oral health.

The recommended daily at-home oral care plan is to brush your teeth twice a day, for at least two minutes each time. Use mouthwash whenever you can, and floss your teeth at least once a day BEFORE you brush. Limit the amount of times you smoke, and of course, stay away from drugs. Taking care of your mouth is taking care of your life.

Make sure to schedule your dental exam today to check for signs of — and to receive more information on the prevention — of gum disease. Schedule now with our Long Beach dental office by using our online system, or by calling 562-434-6414.

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What to Do When You Have a Cracked Tooth?

A fractured tooth is never fun. The pain that comes with a crack in your tooth can range depending on the kind of tooth fracture it is, but it’s still a very uncomfortable experience.

There are many ways a patient can get a cracked tooth, and it doesn’t always involve a physical accident. You can crack your tooth by:

  • Chewing on something hard, like a rock
  • Hard grinding on your teeth, or bruxism
  • Physical impact, like getting hit in the face
  • Untreated cavities that weaken the tooth
  • Old mercury/silver amalgam fillings that can expand and act like a wedge to crack the tooth

Do I need to see a dentist for a cracked tooth?

These things can hardly ever be fixed at home, and a fracture can indicate that there may be a larger problem than just the cracked enamel. It’s important that as soon as you notice any pain, like a toothache, that you see your dentist right away.

However, sometimes, if the crack is purely cosmetic, there may be no need for a dental visit. Known as craze lines, you might just have a scratch on your enamel (similar to a scratch on a car) that may not cause you any pain. You could get the lines polished and buffed by your dentist if appearance is a concern.

If my tooth hurts, what can I do to ease the pain before I see the dentist?

If seeing your dentist the same day you notice the pain is not possible, there are a few things you can do in the meantime to deal with the pain:

  • Avoid chewing on the side of the mouth where the pain is
  • Use a straw to drink liquids
  • Apply pressure to the area by biting down on cloth, paper towels, or a tea bag
  • Use dental cement (available at general retailers) to seal the crack temporarily
  • Take your choice of pain relievers
  • Call your dentist’s office for more help

If the pain is too unbearable, you always have the choice of visiting the ER or urgent care for stronger options. While they may not be able to treat the fracture, they can manage the symptoms until you see your dentist or endodontist.

What is treatment like for a fractured tooth?

Every cracked tooth is different, so there are a variety of treatment options a dentist may use in your specific case.

In some instances, a filling material may be used if it’s just a chipped tooth. However, if the crack goes deep into the enamel, and the pulp of the tooth may be exposed, a root canal or a crown may be necessary. If it seems that the pulp may not be in danger, then your dentist may suggest a porcelain onlay (sometimes referred to as a partial crown) instead.

Ready to explore options for your fractured tooth? Schedule an appointment with our Long Beach dental office online, or call us at 562-434-6414.

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