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How to Get a Picture-Perfect Smile for Prom

You may not have picked out your dress or tux yet for prom – much less your date! – but it’s never too early to start thinking about how your smile will look in those glamorous prom photos. And think of all the selfies you’ll be taking, too!

To look your best in those social media photos, it’s time to start thinking about your oral health and care now so that your pearly whites are ready for the camera (no one wants to rely on filters to give themselves a nice bright smile). Here are a few things to keep in mind and start doing now, to prepare for prom and the pictures you’re going to keep for years to come:

  • Remember to floss: Studies have shown that teenagers are less likely to take care of their teeth as much as they should in order to maintain a beautiful and healthy smile. All it takes is a simple routine of flossing and brushing your teeth twice a day, 2 minutes each time. Plaque can quickly build up in those hard-to-reach places, making it difficult to get whiter teeth in time for prom. Check out this quick guide for the best way to clean your teeth at home.
  • Limit your intake of sugary drinks and coffee: We all hate to hear it, but the sad truth is that sugar and acid can damage and stain your enamel – resulting in discolored teeth and painful cavities. Moderation is key, so just try not to overdo it with the soda, energy drinks, and coffee. You’ll be stunned at what limiting your intake of these drinks will do for your teeth, giving you a brighter smile and decreasing your risk for damaged and decaying teeth to boot.
  • Start a tooth whitening treatment: Bleaching your teeth is a simple and non-invasive dental treatment that can help you get whiter teeth fast. A professional-grade dental whitening treatment takes only two dentist visits and daily application of a whitening tray that is custom-made for you.

Be sure to book your appointment now so that you can have the smile of your dreams on prom night. Our Long Beach dental team will take care of your needs so you’ll have the confidence to take the best photos.

Use our online system to conveniently book an appointment now, or call us at 562-434-6414.

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How to Care for Your Teeth While on Spring Break

The last thing you will want to think about is your dental hygiene while you’re out having a great time at the beach or chosen vacation spot. After all, isn’t it all about letting loose and having fun without all the stress and worries of daily life?

Unfortunately, your health doesn’t take a break. However, it’s not all that bad if you miss a day or two of routine dental care, but any moment you spend on caring for your oral health will only help you in the long run.

Even just a few minutes a day focusing on the health of your mouth will make a big and positive difference. Here are some tips to keep in mind!

  • Pack mouthwash: Remembering to pack your toothbrush and toothpaste may be easy, but don’t forget about mouthwash. Depending on where you are staying, you may not have access to clean water from your sink, so mouthwash will be a good thing to have on hand. Once you arrive, you might also want to purchase some bottled water should you find that clean water is not easy to come by in your room.
  • Chew sugar-free gum on the flight: A popular travel hack is to chew gum while taking off or landing on a plane, because it helps with ear-popping. Sugar is a well-known contributor to certain oral issues, so to prevent you from ingesting more sugar than necessary, buy a sugar-free gum to use during your travels. Most airports will have them.
  • Limit your alcohol intake: All good things in moderation! Not only will drinking too much wreak havoc on your body, but the sugar from those drinks (yes, even beer has sugar!) will also be bad for your teeth. And when you do indulge in a drink or two, remember to brush your teeth before turning in after a night of fun.
  • Talk to your dentist about preparing an emergency kit: If you have braces, veneers, or any other dental implant, you might want to get recommendations from your dental care provider about what items to pack for your trip. While vacationing, you most likely won’t have easy access to a dental office for emergencies, so it’s best to be prepared for the unlikely event you get a chipped tooth, broken braces, lost aligners, etc.

It’s important to take a break and have fun on vacation. Soak in the sun, spend time with friends, and get some physical exercise in. But it’s also important to take care of your oral health – your future self will thank you!

Book your appointment with our Long Beach dental team today to discuss your needs for dental care while traveling. Use our online system to schedule an appointment, or call us at 562-434-6414.

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What are Tooth Fillings Made of?

The most common way a dentist will treat a cavity is to remove the decayed part of the tooth, and then fill it with a special dental filling to help prevent further decay and retain the integrity of the tooth.

These fillings can also be used to repair cracks or breaks in the enamel, which can occur when the tooth is struck by a physical object, or even if grind your teeth extensively, sometimes referred to as bruxism.

What materials are used in dental fillings?

Today, there are a variety of materials used for a tooth filling, and each serve different purposes. Depending on your situation, your dentist may suggest specific types of fillings based on your insurance, your current dental needs, etc.

Mercury-Silver amalgam fillings

At one point, these silver fillings were the most commonly used fillings used for repairing tooth decay. They are inexpensive and can last up to 10 or 15+ years depending on the care. However, these silver fillings can discolor over time, and its silvery look can be aesthetically displeasing.

This material may also expand or contract depending on the temperature and contribute to your teeth cracking or fracturing over time. Since these fillings to not bond or stick to the teeth the dentist will generally have to create a larger space in the tooth to create more room for the filling for retention. Another disadvantage is the presence of mercury in this material. While mercury itself has been shown to be damaging to our health, the amount of mercury in these fillings are below the FDA limit and have shown no signs to be detrimental to our health, according to several studies. However, most people tend to avoid silver amalgam fillings these days.

Gold cast fillings

While gold can cost much more than silver amalgam fillings, they’re more durable and last longer.

Gold cast fillings also don’t tarnish the same way silver fillings do, and some people may find the gold to be more pleasing aesthetically than silver. Some patients may also choose gold over silver if they’re concerned about the nominal amount of mercury in silver fillings, and would want a material that doesn’t require as much maintenance and care.

Tooth-colored composite fillings

For those looking for more aesthetically pleasing fillings, a composite filling may be what you’re looking for. However, while they’re made to closely match the color of your teeth, they can be more expensive than silver fillings, and typically won’t last as long.

These fillings are made of a plastic and fine glass mixture that gives it its tooth-like coloring. The material also bonds better with your teeth, giving it a stronger hold than with the amalgam fillings.

Porcelain fillings

Porcelain fillings are a great choice for patients who want a cleaner look for teeth. These fillings are better at resisting staining and discoloration than composite fillings.

Porcelain fillings are sometimes referred to as porcelain inlays or onlays, and can actually be a little bit more difficult to place because of the material’s durability.

Glass ionomer fillings

If you have a tooth with decay below the gumline, or a child (whose teeth are still changing) who needs a filling, then your dentist may suggest glass ionomer fillings because of its flexibility.

These fillings are weaker than composite fillings and do not last as long, but they contain fluoride, which is slowly released onto your teeth, aiding in the fight against future tooth decay. Applying glass ionomer fillings may also take longer than other fillings, requiring a longer dental office visit.

Which dental filling will I need?

Your dentist will be able to assess your current situation and determine the best course of action for your dental needs, time, and budget. Also your dental insurance may limit what type of material they will pay for which is usually the least costly to them not necessarily the best for you and your tooth. With a variety of different materials to choose from, you’ll be sure to find one that will suit your needs and maintain good oral health.

Let the experienced dental staff and Dr. Stephen Coates help you with your tooth repair needs. If you’re in or around the Long Beach, CA area, we’d love to serve you as part of our dental family.

Schedule your appointment with our online system here, or call us at 562-434-6414.

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Should You Avoid Drinking “Green Beer” to Protect Your Teeth?

St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner, and that means the bars will be full of green people and green drinks very soon!

A popular drink for the holiday is “green beer,” which is essentially just a light beer – like a pilsner or pale ale – with a little bit of green food coloring. Some bars might even take it to the next level and offer other green drinks, like a honeydew martini made with Midori, or a grasshopper, made with creme de menthe.

Will food coloring stain my teeth?

It is common to assume that food coloring is bad for your teeth – after all, the whole point of the dye is to stain the food. But actually, the dye isn’t all that bad on your enamel. It will take repeated exposure to the dye for your enamel to start staining or discolor, and it would be highly unlikely that you would consume that much food coloring to have a noticeable effect.

Unless you’re holding a large amount of food coloring in your mouth for a long time, you’re good to continue enjoying the festivities by consuming the food and drinks you want. Of course, everything in moderation!

But it’s the not the food coloring you should worry about…

Alcoholic drinks are notoriously bad for your oral health, on top of the fact that alcohol is already damaging to your overall health.

Beer can be especially acidic, which can weaken your enamel over time. Most alcoholic drinks are also high in sugar, and it’s the sugar that can lead to a host of dental issues if it stays in your mouth for too long.

But, like everything, moderation is key. Be aware of your alcohol intake, and make sure to stick to your teeth cleaning routine. Spending a little extra time on your teeth on the day you consume that much sugar and alcohol may not hurt either.

Want to ensure you keep your teeth healthy through St. Patrick’s Day and other holidays? Consider getting a sealant, which add a layer of protection to your teeth to help prevent build-up and tooth decay. Let our experienced dental team in Long Beach help set your teeth up for success.

Schedule your appointment now using our online system, or call us at 562-434-6414.

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Should You Get Veneers to Achieve that Perfect Smile?

Having a great smile can lead to many positive things in life, including a better romantic life, more confidence in social and professional settings, and more. Many studies have shown that those who are more confident with their oral health experience more happiness overall.

For some people with dental issues, getting that picture-perfect smile can seem like a pipe dream. But in reality, with help and guidance from your dentist, just about anyone can achieve a gorgeous smile.

Should you get braces or veneers for a better smile?

In some situations, it may be that braces are a viable option for you if all you’re looking to do is straighten out your teeth. Teeth that are otherwise healthy can be shifted to form a straighter smile. Clear aligners like Invisalign may also be an option.

Meanwhile, dental veneers are a thin layer of porcelain or other similar material, and they’re made to fit around your teeth to give a more natural and attractive look. Veneers are a great option for those experiencing certain dental issues that braces or aligners may not be able to address. Some of these oral issues may include:

  • Discolored teeth
  • Decaying or chipped teeth
  • Poorly-shaped or gapped teeth
  • Misaligned teeth that cannot be shifted

One benefit to dental veneers is that the materials are made to be more resistant to stains from foods like coffee and tea, and often do a better job at preventing build-up than natural teeth.

Veneers also offer a quicker solution for gorgeous-looking teeth. Braces and aligners may take months, even a year, to provide you the smile you’re looking for.

How do I know if dental veneers are right for me?

If you’re ready to explore options for getting that beautiful smile, then it’s time to book an appointment with your dentist. They will be able to assess your current oral health and situation and provide you with a custom plan for a better smile.

Porcelain veneers, much like other cosmetic dental procedures, still require you to have a great dental hygiene routine. Your dentist will be able to discuss with you how to care for your new veneers.

Long Beach Cosmetic dentist Dr. Stephen Coates and his experienced team have been helping patients for decade achieve that perfect smile. Let us help you decide if dental veneers are a good option for you.

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

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How Are Teeth Affected By Sugar?

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

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

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

Is sugar the problem?

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

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

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

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

Have your cake and eat it too!

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

We recommend that you:

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

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

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

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The Relationship Between Your Love Life and Oral Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Would Invisalign Be an Effective Treatment for You?

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

What is Invisalign?

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

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

What’s the benefit of using clear aligners?

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

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

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

Are there downsides to using aligners?

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

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

Which teeth straightening treatment is best for me?

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

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

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

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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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