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El Portal Dental Blog


For the latest news about Dr. Nguyen and El Portal Dental Group, read our newsletter below. You’ll learn about:

How To Prepare For Your Dental Appointment


If you are planning to see your dentist, the time you will have with him or her will be optimal and efficient if you are prepared.  Here are some tips that may help:

    1. You should have given the office front staff your dental benefit information at the time you call the office to make the appointment.  Why? They need your information to check your eligibility and benefit before you will be seen.

    2. Bring your dental benefit card if you have it.

    3. Bring your health insurance cards as well since some of the dental procedures can be covered by medical insurance.

    4. Bring your health care records and appliances if you have it.

    5. Make a list of the things you want to talk to your dentist about.  The actual face-to-face time with your dentist is short, and sometime you forget to mention important information.  It is a good idea to bring a list of the things you would like to discuss

    6. Be prepared to share with your dentist your concerns, how your health is doing, and any current medications that you are taking. 

    7. Don’t leave the office until you understand what your dentist has said.


1. Help reduce chance of concussion

2. Protect jaw joints against injury

3. Protect soft tissue from injury

4. Cushions teeth against impact

5. Help prevent injures to the jaw and neck

At El Portal Dental Group, we now offer a low cost and properly fitted sport guard which can be done within the same day .  Call us at 209-385-1479 for more information.


Do you have a cracked tooth?

Sometimes it is hard to tell if a tooth is cracked.  If you have pain, you may also not be able to tell which tooth hurts.  Cracks sometimes are invisible to the eye and may not show on an x-ray.  Your dentist will discover it during the exam.

A tooth that is cracked can be painful.  It also can lead to disease of the tooth.  How do you know if you have a cracked tooth?  Look for these signs:

  • Sharp pain when biting down that quickly disappears

  • Pain that comes and goes

  • Pain when eating or drinking

  • Feeling that something is stuck between your teeth

  • Or you may have no signs of symptom at all

Why does a tooth crack?

It can be one of these many reasons:

  • Chewing on hard objects

  • An accident

  • Grinding or clenching of teeth

  • Uneven chewing pressure, especially if a nearby tooth is missing

  • Loss of tooth structure through wear

  • Loss of tooth structure due to large fillings or other restorations

  • Exposure of tooth enamel to extreme hot and cold temperatures

Why does a cracked tooth hurt?

A crack in the enamel travels through to the nerve pulp.  This type of cracked tooth may hurt when you bite down or when you stop biting.  The crack may be too small to see, but when it opens, the pulp inside the tooth may become irritated.  The pulp is soft tissue inside the center of the tooth that contains the nerves and blood vessels.  If the crack extends into the pulp, the tooth may become sensitive to extreme heat and cold. 

How is a cracked tooth treated?

Treatment depends on the size, location and direction of the crack, as well as your symptoms.  Your dentist will discuss the treatment and will recommend the best treatment plan to you.  Types of treatment can be:

  • Repairing the tooth with fillings

  • Placing a crown (cap) on the tooth to protect it from further damage

  • Endodontic (root canal) treatment if the pulp is involved

  • Extracting the tooth if it is severely cracked and cannot be saved

Regular dental checkup is important because they let your dentist diagnose and treat problems at an early stage.  A cracked tooth can become a bigger problem if left untreated.  If you think you may have a cracked tooth, give El Portal Dental Group a call at 209-385-1479.  We will make sure you are taken care of.



A good and healthy mouth requires a great care to your teeth which include regular brushing, flossing and regularly seeing your dentist every 6 months.  Our dentists at El Portal Dental Group often recommend our patients to change their toothbrush (if you use power toothbrush to change the head) every three months.  This is not simply to sell more toothbrushes but it is to help our patients keep their teeth in good condition.  Here are the reasons:

1.       Frayed bristles:  With repeated uses, the bristles on the toothbrush become frayed and don’t effectively clean the plaque off your teeth.  The frayed bristles can’t reach all the nooks between your teeth.

2.       Cuts: The old toothbrush with frayed bristles can become sharp.  These sharp edges can cut into your gums which potentially can lead to infection.  The germs from the infection can enter into your bloodstream.

3.       Bacteria: The moisture of an old toothbrush makes an optimal environment for bacteria to grow.  By using the toothbrush, you are introducing unwanted bacteria into your mouth.

4.       Reinfection: If you have a cold or flu, the germs will remain on your toothbrush.  When you are not sick anymore, the remained germs on your toothbrush can cause a new outbreak again.



Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water. Every day, minerals are added to and lost from a tooth's enamel layer through two processes, demineralization and remineralization. Minerals are lost (demineralization) from a tooth's enamel layer when acids -- formed from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth -- attack the enamel. Minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate are redeposited (remineralization) to the enamel layer from the foods and waters consumed. Too much demineralization without enough remineralization to repair the enamel layer leads to tooth decay.

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth. It also reverses early decay. In children under 6 years of age, fluoride becomes incorporated into the development of permanent teeth, making it difficult for acids to demineralize the teeth. Fluoride also enhances remineralization as well as disrupts acid production in already erupted teeth of both children and adults.

Fluoride intake is most important for infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years because this is the timeframe teeth develop and erupt.  Also, adults benefit from fluoride, too.  New research indicates that topical fluorides from fluoride treatments as a dental visit are as important in fighting tooth decay as in strengthening developing teeth.

In addition, people with conditions such as dry mouth, gum disease (periodontitis or gingivitis), frequent cavities, presence of crown and bridges or braces may be at increased risk of tooth decay and would therefore benefit from additional fluoride treatment.

City of Merced has an annual water report of which indicated that the concentration of fluoride in our tap water is 0.83 ppm which is within the normal range (https://www.cityofmerced.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=10293).  If you are young and/or have certain conditions mentioned above, don’t forget to have topical fluoride applied on your teeth at your dental visit.  At El Portal Dental Group, we always offer topical fluoride or varnish to our patients during their hygiene visit.

There are a lot of us who are often delaying dental care since nothing is in pain until experiencing excruciating pain, we rush into a nearby emergency room.

The Rutgers School of Dental Medicine collaborated with the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy on a study of dental ER visits. Researchers found that young adults, ages 19 to 34, have the highest number of ER visits for dental pain and infections that aren’t related to trauma.

According to the American Dental Association, ER dental visits doubled nationwide from 2000 to 2010, rising from 1.1 million to 2.1 million.  The number is getting worse since then.

Many of these “emergencies” could have been prevented with the help of regular dental visits or treated in a dentist’s office for a fraction of the cost to patients and taxpayers. Patients unlucky enough to get a tooth pulled in the ER might be billed as much as $2,500, while it may cost them about $150 to $200 for a dental procedure.

But the most disturbing aspect of the rise in ER dental visits is that treatment is often ineffective. In emergency rooms, there is a lack of diagnostic equipment and tools — such as dental X-Ray machines — and ER physicians are not trained to identify and treat oral health problems. Often, they prescribe painkillers and antibiotics for infections while the underlying problem remains.

To keep your out of toothache, regular visit to your dentist is the solution.  Treat dental visit as one of your semi-annual checkup routine.

If you do have a toothache, don’t rush to your local emergency room.  Give your dentist a call.  Your dentist surely can help you in a faster manner and more cost effective.  At El Portal Dental Group, we always have same day emergency appointment available.  We are located at 3393 G Street, Ste B, Merced, CA  95340.  Our phone number is 209-385-1479.



What And How Often You Eat Can Affect Your Teeth

Eating habits and food choices can lead to tooth decay or cavities. Study showed snacking sugary foods and sipping sugary drinks all day long can damage your teeth.Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. This plaque will build up over time if you don’t remove it daily.

Plaque bacteria use sugar to make acid that attacks enamel, the outside layer of the tooth. The acid can attack tooth enamel for up to 20 minutes after you consume sugary foods or drinks. When you have sugary foods many times a day or sip the same sugary drinks for a long time, acid attacks the enamel again and again. Repeated acid attacks can cause tooth decay or cavities. Untreated decay can travel down to the tooth nerves which will need root canal therapy.

How to reduce your risk of tooth decay:

  1. Limit sugary drinks and snacks between meals. If you do snack, choose foods that are low in sugar and fat (read nutrition fact labels).
  2. If you have sugary foods and drinks, have them with meals. Saliva increases during meals and helps weaken acid and rinse food particles from the mouth.
  3. Drink tap water with fluoride right after consuming sugary foods and drinks. The water can help wash away the sugar component in your mouth.
  4. Very important to see your dentist regularly. Recommended once every 6 months.

Healthy Smile Tips:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss once a day
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks
  • Visit your dentist every 6 months

Toothache? What to Do while Waiting for a Dental Appointment
  • Take a painkiller. Aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen (Tylenol) will help to relieve minor pain.
  • Numb the area. Buy an over-the-counter tooth and gum numbing gel to help ease the throbbing for a few hours. These gels are applied directly to the affected area and usually work for several hours.
  • Apply a cold compress. Fill a food storage bag with ice, cover it with a thin cloth or paper towel, and apply it directly to the tooth or the cheek area just outside the tooth. The cold temperature will help ease the pain. Do not apply the ice directly to the tooth. This will increase the pain.
  • Clean your mouth thoroughly by flossing around the tooth, brushing the area, and using a rinse.
  • To help it along, make a rinse with warm water and a spoonful of sea salt. Repeat several times daily until the pain subsides.

  • How to Care For Your Child's Teeth

    A child's primary teeth, sometimes called "baby teeth," are as important as the permanent adult teeth.

    Primary teeth typically begin to appear when a baby is between age six months and one year. Primary teeth help children chew and speak. Primary teeth hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are developing under the gums. The ADA recommends that a dentist examine a child within six months of the eruption of the first tooth and no later than the first birthday.

    A dental visit at an early age is a "well-baby checkup" for the teeth. Besides checking for tooth decay and other problems, the dentist can demonstrate how to clean the child's teeth properly and how to evaluate any adverse habits such as thumbsucking.