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


Is Invisalign Right for Me?
Is Invisalign Right for Me?

How do you really feel about your teeth? Are you concerned that they are too crowded, have gaps or simply do not align? Have you considered braces or wondered if Invisalign is right for you? To help you make an informed decision, we have created this short, helpful guide for deciding if Invisalign is the ideal solution for your smile.

What is the Invisalign System?

Invisalign is a revolutionary system that gently and gradually straightens your teeth over time. Made from a strong molded thermoplastic material that precisely fit your teeth, Invisalign aligners are designed to comfortably correct your teeth with exactly the amount of force and direction required to safely move them to their correct position.

The process beings with a customized 3D scan that picks up the exact shape and size of your teeth. Working with a sophisticated dental computer program, aligners are generated in succession, so that roughly every two weeks you change to another set.

Basically, each set of aligners is created to change the alignment in a planned progression until the desired result is achieved. The length of time required to correct your smile varies, depending on the severity of each individual case. Typically, it takes between 8-12 months to align your smile. You may, for instance, require as few as 12 alignment trays or as many as 48. Each patient is different and the dentist will advise you about your particular needs during your consultation.

Aligners are made to be easily removed. In fact, you need to remove them before eating or drinking anything (except for clear water). You should also floss and brush after meals and snacks before replacing the aligners. We encourage our patients to avoid smoking with the aligners as it can discolor them. Besides that, smoking is harmful to teeth and your overall health.

Invisalign Braces Benefits:

·      Predictable, controlled, gentle tooth relocation

·      No discomfort from metal braces or wires

·      Easily removable for activities, eating and cleaning

·      Virtually invisible

·      Boost self esteem

·      Blue indicator dots can help teenagers comply

·      Covered by many orthodontic plans

Only a qualified dentist can determine if Invisalign braces are right for you. At El Portal Dental Group, we understand how valuable your smile really is. We offer the most advanced treatments at a price you can afford. Our caring staff is fully qualified to handle all of your orthodontic and dental needs.

If you, or a loved one is considering the Invisalign system, or to learn more about any of our sophisticated dental services, please call El Portal Dental at (209) 385-1479 today or schedule an appointment online


Does Teeth Whitening Actually Work?
Does Teeth Whitening Actually Work?

You may not know it, but as hard as our teeth are, they are still porous to some degree, which means that they can naturally pick up stains from food and beverages like wine, coffee, soy sauce and berries. Besides which, teeth, like anything else, can and do often begin to show signs of wear with age. This can easily lead to staining, with the teeth becoming darker or yellowing over time. Smoking, which deposits tars and other chemical smoking related residues, can also discolor and stain teeth.  On top of that, enamel thins as we age, which allows the underlying more yellowish-tinged dentin to dominate the tooth color. Which bring us to the question…does teeth whitening actually work? The answer is a very happy yes.

Do Teeth Whitening Systems Work?

There are actually professional grade tooth whitening gels that are very effective in restoring the lovely white smile you may have started to miss. Professional teeth whitening systems are designed to safely clear away stains, removing layers of dull or yellowed stains, creating dramatically whiter smiles.

Budget conscious consumers sometimes choose less effective, over-the-counter teeth whitening systems (such as whitening strips or paint on applicators) in an effort to save a few coins. The only problem is that not only are those systems less effective, they can actually increase your teeth sensitivity, making you wince when you drink a cold beverage on a hot day. Even when they do not cause tooth sensitivity, over-the-counter teeth whitening systems tend to deliver inconsistent results.

Teeth whitening treatments provided by your dentist are stronger than what you can buy over the counter. Your dentist can provide you with specific instructions alongside a safe and effective take home professional whitening gel treatment. Or you can have your dentist apply a professional dental product such as the Sapphire In-office Teeth Whitening System, which whitens your teeth in less than an hour.

Advantages of a Professional Teeth Whitening Systems

·      Safer and professionally administered

·      More consistent results

·      Stronger and more effective products

·      Reduced risk of teeth damage or increased sensitivity

When it comes to the health of your smile, spending a little more is worth it. We offer both in-office and professionally made dental gel trays to safely and effectively whiten and brighten your smile. Don’t risk your teeth with anything less than professional grade, dentist dispensed or applied teeth whitening systems that actually work.

If you, or a loved one needs teeth whitening, or to learn more about our advanced dental whitening systems, please call El Portal Dental at (209) 385-1479 today or schedule an appointment online. Today. 


Your Dental Crown Procedure: What to Expect
Your Dental Crown Procedure: What to Expect

The dental crown procedure is one of the most common procedures practiced by dentists. The biggest reason is that it is often the best way to prevent the total loss of a tooth. If, for instance, it hurts when you bite down, you may have a cracked tooth, which may be able to save the tooth. (If the crack is large enough and extends below the gumline, you may also require a root canal along with the crown to save your tooth. There are several other reasons that a patient may choose to get a dental crown, ranging from aesthetic reasons to medical ones. That’s why we compiled with helpful guide to help you know what to expect from a dental crown procedure.

What is a dental crown?

Put simply, a dental crown is a small custom-made cap that fits over a tooth. Crowns may be made from porcelain, metal, resident, or other materials, depending on the reason for the application. Common reasons for the application of dental crowns are:

·       to cover a cavity that is too big to fill

·       to make a bridge that covers a missing tooth

·       to enhance the appearance of your smile, such as by covering a discolored tooth

How is the dental crown procedure performed?

The process of applying a dental crown is often split up into two visits to the dentist’s office. During the first visit, the dentist will inspect the area which the crown is supposed to cover, in order to make sure that it can support the crown. The dentist may also either file down, fill in the tooth, or shave the tooth down in preparation for the crown. (Anesthetic will be used during this part of the procedure.

After the area has been properly prepared, the dentist will take an impression the tooth which will then be sent off to make the crown itself. The dentist will also note the color, carefully matching it to the exact shade of your own natural teeth for a flawless dental crown.

The corn will be custom milled based on the impression, the material your dentist has selected and the specific shading required. Once this permanent crown is ready, you will be ready for the second half of this process. Your dentist will provide you with a temporary crown to last until you come back in for the final fitting of your new dental crown.

On the next visit, the dentist will remove the temporary crown, and put the permanent crown in its place. Overall, used experience very minimal pain associated with this process, though some patients do report an uncomfortable feeling with the temporary crown. It should be noted that this is comfort is often not present with the permanent crown, as the permanent crown was molded especially for your mouth.

If you, or a loved one needs a crown or any other advanced dental care, call Dr. Nguyen to create the most visually pleasing, natural looking and vibrant smile you have always wanted. Call El Portal Dental at (209) 385-1479 today or schedule an appointment online.

Veneers: The Pros and Cons
Veneers: The Pros and Cons

Like anything else in life, not all options are a good fit for everyone. Porcelain veneers, for instance, are an ideal cosmetic solution for some, but may not be the best options for others. Dental veneers, also called porcelain veneers, are extremely thin, custom crafted ceramic dental shells that are bonded onto the front surface of teeth to improve their shape, size, length and coloring. Below is a handy guide to the pros and cons of porcelain dental veneers.

Pros of Porcelain Veneers

·       Long Lasting - Porcelain veneers are extremely durable, and can easily withstand daily wear and tear for decades, provided they are well-cared for.

·       Natural appearance - Like naturally occurring tooth enamel, porcelain veneers have a lovely, translucent quality that makes them softly reflect the light, making them appear both healthy and brilliantly white.

·       Instant smile makeovers - Veneers are instantly beautiful. They do not require multiple visits or staging. You can literally walk in with a worn down smile and walk out with a dazzling new one in the same day.

·       Repel Stains - Porcelain veneers are stain resistant, even if you tend to consume stain causing foods and drink such as coffee, berries, and wine. Since they are crafted from durable ceramic, stains tend to wipe off, just as they do with a glass surface.

·        Hide Dental Signs of Aging - As we age, teeth can begin to appear longer, duller, more crowded, or worn down. Dental veneers can correct and hide the signs of aging, giving you a more youthful, fresh appearance.

Cons of Porcelain Veneers

·       Permanent Application - Once applied, dental veneers are permanent. You cannot suddenly change your mind because a tiny amount of enamel has to be removed in order to affix the ceramic shells to your teeth.

·       Tooth Sensitivity - If you have an existing sensitivity to hot or cold beverages or food, caused by lost enamel, adding dental veneers may increase the likelihood of it continuing or becoming worse. Some patients do report a temporary increase in sensitivity, while others experience it long term.

·       Possible Damage to the Veneers - While porcelain veneers are extremely durable, they can be accidently damaged, or even pop off. In most cases your dentist can simply reattach them, but they can be cracked or chipped and may have to be replaced again.

In most cases the pros definitely outweigh the cons, but you should always be aware of all the facts before you make any kind of dental or health decision. If you are interested in porcelain veneers, talk to Dr. Nguyen, an experienced and highly qualified cosmetic dental expert about what procedures may be right for you.

Call Dr. Nguyen to create the most visually pleasing, natural looking and vibrant smile you have always wanted. Call El Portal Dental Group at (209) 385-1479 today, or schedule an appointment online. No problem is too big or too small. We are always happy to help you get the outstanding dental care you and your loved ones deserve.


4 Dental Terms You Should Know
4 Dental Terms You Should Know

For a lot of us, medical terms seem to be something we only think about sometimes, and quite often do not care to understand. However, your oral health directly impacts your overall health, so it’s important that you get to know terms and conditions that could have long-term effects. Here are a few of the top medical terms you should learn more about:

Plaque

Plaque is a sticky, colorless, deposit of bacteria that builds up on your teeth. Plaque can cause tooth decay and various gum diseases. When you eat, the bacteria in plaque process sugars into acid that eats away at the tooth enamel, this process can lead to holes in your teeth (cavities).

Fighting against Plaque

It is imperative to brush your teeth twice a day to remove plaque and protect the tooth enamel from decay. Using floss will help remove the plaque from places your toothbrush cannot penetrate. Rinsing with clean water or mouthwash also helps to fight plaque buildup. Visiting your dentist will also help keep plaque at bay.

Tartar

Tartar is what happens when plaque isn’t removed daily. Tartar is a rough and solid material full of millions of bacteria that forms above the gum line. Tartar requires special tools to remove and may lead to gum diseases and even heart disease.

Preventing Tartar

Brushing regularly is the best way to prevent tartar; studies have shown that an electronic toothbrush will help prevent tartar more effectively than manual toothbrushes. Flossing is also imperative in the fight against tartar, while using antiseptic mouthwash will help kill the bacteria that cause plaque in the first place.

Gingivitis

We see this term in every Listerine and Colgate toothpaste ad, but do you really know what it is? Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums and is usually caused by plaque build-up. If plaque isn’t removed daily, it can irritate the gums, leading to gingivitis. Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease, and left untreated could lead to long-term oral health complications.

How Do I Know if I Have Gingivitis?

Signs of gingivitis include red and swollen gums. You may also notice bleeding when you brush.

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is a serious stage of gum disease. While Gingivitis refers to inflammation of the gums, periodontitis usually refers to dental bone loss and tissue damage. With Periodontitis, the gum pulls away from the teeth, creating pockets of open space where bacteria accumulate. Tooth loss is also prevalent with periodontitis. Periodontitis causes irreversible oral health damages.

Diagnosing Periodontitis

A dentist will help determine whether a patient has gingivitis or periodontitis. It is important to diagnose periodontitis sooner rather than later.

While these conditions may have lasting effects on your overall health, preventing them can be quite easy. It is important to brush twice daily, floss, and use mouthwash to prevent plaque and tartar build-up. Visiting your dentist regularly will also prevent these diseases from having long-term effects. If it is time for your annual or semi-annual visit, call El Portal Dental Group in Merced, California today at (209) 385-1479, or schedule your appointment online!


How Veneers Can Change Your Life for the Better
How Veneers Can Change Your Life for the Better

Over the years, techniques and technology focusing on cosmetic dentistry have advanced quite a bit, revolutionizing the lives of millions of people. Porcelain veneers, for instance, can dramatically improve your face value by correcting issues such as spacing, stains, worn-down teeth, chips or cracks, or otherwise unsightly or misshapen teeth.

Newer veneers are not only incredibly thin and highly durable, but can also strengthen your natural teeth by providing stability and resilience to the structure of your teeth. This is especially important for patients who have weakened enamel (Enamel is the hard protective layer on the exterior of your teeth). With dental veneers, your increased confidence with how you feel about your smile and how you look can make you feel tremendously happier and more comfortable. 

What are Porcelain Veneers?

Porcelain veneers are thin wafer-like shells that are permanently bonded to the front of your teeth, in order to give you an even, aesthetically pleasing smile. Made of high quality, durable materials, they are both stain and chip resistant. Worn or discolored teeth make your smile dull and less appealing, and stained or misaligned teeth can also make you appear older and more weathered. Getting new porcelain veneers are a simple way to roll back the years without having invasive cosmetic procedures, such as a face lift.

How the Process of Getting Veneers Works

After an initial consultation and any necessary oral exams and X-rays, Dr. Nguyen will discuss all of your options and specific dental needs. Together, you can determine if dental veneers are right for you. Once you decide to move forward and improve your smile, Dr. Nguyen will prepare your teeth by removing a tiny fraction of the surface in order to bond the veneers properly.

He will take an impression of your teeth so that the veneers can be perfectly matched to the size and shape of your teeth. Once your veneers are ready, he will meticulously match the fit and shade of the veneers. He will then roughen the outside of your teeth slightly in order to ensure a firm placement.

Afterwards, he will carefully place the veneers using a special cement which is hardened with an ultraviolet light. Once bonded, he will advise you as to any follow up visits and ongoing care. In just a few minutes your smile can literally go from dull to dazzling. You will be amazed at how good you look and how much better it makes you feel to flash that stunning grin to the word. You may not be able to stop smiling!

If you are not happy with the shape, structure or shade of your teeth, porcelain veneers may be the ideal cosmetic dental solution for you. Call Dr. Nguyen to create the most visually pleasing, natural looking and vibrant smile you have always wanted. Call El Portal Dental at (209) 385-1479 today or schedule an appointment online. No problem is too big or too small. We are always happy to help you get the outstanding dental care you and your loved ones deserve.


Giving Your Smile a Makeover
Giving Your Smile a Makeover

A Beautiful Smile Makes You Look Younger

Did you know that a skilled cosmetic dentist can take a decade off of your looks? It is true – whiter, straighter teeth make you appear much younger and more vibrant. At one time, there was not much a dentist could really do to improve your smile. Aside from dentures, there was no real way to replace lost or missing teeth or simply make the teeth look new again.  Fortunately, a lot has changed in the last few decades in the field of modern dentistry. New procedures, advanced dental technologies, and sophisticated dental cosmetic smile makeovers can change even the dingiest smile into a dazzling grin.

Common Dental Problems a Smile Makeover Can Correct

Yellowed teeth - darker teeth are a common problem. Teeth tend to become more discolored with age because they absorb stains from foods and beverages like coffee or wine. They can also become darker over time, even if you avoid stain causing foods and take excellent care of your teeth.  Advanced tooth whitening solutions can strip away the yellow, leaving you looking years younger.

Mesial Drift - Over time, many people notice that their teeth have begun to drift slightly due to a common condition known as mesial drift. This can cause unsightly crowding of your teeth, a sure sign of aging. New procedures such as ClearCorrect can rebalance your smile for a fresher, younger look. Orthodontics are not just for kids anymore, either. You can get a perfect smile at any age with “invisible” braces at any age.

Missing teeth - missing teeth can make your face sag inward, adding years to your look. Missing teeth may also make it harder to speak clearly, and eat properly. Besides being less attractive, missing, decayed, broken, or badly damaged teeth are often painful. Without strong teeth, it can be difficult to eat a balanced diet, which has a direct effect on your health and well-being. Dental implants and innovative dentures that lock into place can give you a beautiful smile you will be happy to flash.

Old fillings and worn down teeth - A mouth full of old silver dental work makes your smile instantly dated. Nothing gives away your age like silver fillings when you laugh or smile. Much like an ill-fitting suit, worn down teeth make you look old and tired. The solution is simple: newer fillings are not only safer, but practically invisible. Worn down teeth can be repaired and corrected with advanced dental options.

Don’t be embarrassed by your smile for one more day. A skilled cosmetic dentist is much like an artist, using a specialized palette of cosmetic dental tools such as porcelain veneers, specially tinted white fillings, bridges, dental caps, dental implants and sophisticated tooth whitening systems to create a true work of art.  Call today to find out how you can trade a less than perfect grin for a smile that truly lights up a room.

If you are looking for expert cosmetic dentistry, call El Portal Dental at (209) 385-1479 today or schedule an appointment online. No problem is too big or too small for us. Our caring dentists are always happy to help you get the outstanding cosmetic smile makeover you have always wanted.


Relieving the Pain After Your Root Canal Procedure
Relieving the Pain After Your Root Canal Procedure

Getting a Root Canal

If your dentist has advised you that you need a root canal, you probably have some form of infection or serious decay that must be removed in order to save the tooth. A root canal, also called endodontic therapy, involves removing the damaged, inflamed or infected pulp material inside the tooth. Sometimes it also means removing the nerve as well. Once removed, the tooth is sealed with a crown and allowed to heal. Sometimes patients report that their tooth pain has actually increased after the procedure. Below are some helpful tips to help relieve the pain following a root canal procedure.

Why it Hurts

If the tooth was especially inflamed or painful, the root canal may actually temporarily aggravate the area, causing you more discomfort that normal. Additionally, the healing process can take a little time to calm things down. This is frequently caused by stretching on the periodontal fibers and ligaments that hold the tooth in place. They are likely to be inflamed by the infection, or the root canal procedure itself. Your jaws may also be sore from having them opened so wide for the time it takes your dentist to complete the work.

Even if the nerve has been removed, some patients report a kind of “ghost” nerve pain because of the sudden severing of the nerve from the major nerves that run along the pathways of your jaws and gums. Over time, this pain normally recedes by itself. However, you should tell your dentist about any continuing pain or discomfort.

Patients should avoid chewing on hard or crunchy foods following a root canal. Chewing on the opposite side or eating only soft foods is a good way to allow the tooth to rest and heal. It can also reduce your pain. If the pain continues or gets worse after a root canal, you may need additional treatment and should notify your dentist as soon as possible.

Relieving Pain After a Root Canal

  • First and foremost, follow all of your dentist’s instructions
  • Make sure to take any prescribed medications or antibiotics, as directed
  • Make sure to allow the tooth to heal and chew on the other side when possible for a few days
  • Report all bleeding, signs of infection such as pus or redness, fever or swelling to your dentist
  • Ask the dentist if you can take over the counter medications or if they can prescribe something for pain

If you need treatment for an abscessed tooth or want more information about dental care such as a root canal, call El Portal Dental Group at (209) 385-1479 today or schedule an appointment online. Our compassionate and gentle dentists are always happy to help you with the superior dental care you and your loved ones deserve.


Can Milk Really Preserve a Fallen Tooth?
Can Milk Really Preserve a Fallen Tooth?

Carrie’s 12-year old daughter was happily playing in the back yard with the neighborhood kids. She could hear the gleeful sounds of laughter coming through the open window. Suddenly, the lighthearted mood changed. Her daughter had fallen onto the driveway and knocked out one of her front teeth.  Her daughter came running in, mouth bleeding, holding her knocked out tooth in her hand. Her mouth was already beginning to swell. Carrie did not think she could put the tooth back into the now-empty socket so she did the next best thing and gently placed the tooth in a cup of milk. She called the dentist’s office and headed out the door. A few hours later, her daughter was resting, with the tooth safely back in her mouth.

Knocked Out Teeth: What to do

If your tooth is knocked out, the best place to keep it is actually in your mouth, when possible. Gently placing the tooth back into the empty socket or even holding it the space between the cheek and gum can help preserve the tooth by keeping the root moist and viable. Obviously, if the person is not conscious, you should call 911 and not try to put anything into their mouth.

If it is a permanent adult tooth you can do the following:

·       Handle the tooth as little as possible. Do not touch the roots, pick it up by the crown.

·       If you can gently slip it back into the socket (making sure it is facing he right way), do so.

·        If the tooth is covered in dirt or debris, you should gently rinse it, being careful not to drop it, with milk. (If milk is unavailable, do NOT use soy-milk or any milk substitutes.)

·       If you do not have milk, you can use warm water instead.

·       Do not add soap or any kind of disinfectant.

·       Do not brush the tooth with a washcloth or a toothbrush.

·       Do not use very hot water as it can further damage the tooth.

·       Get to your dentist as soon as possible. The faster you see your dentist, the greater the chance you have of saving the tooth.

Once your dentist has the tooth, he or she will gently clean out the socket and replace the tooth, if possible. As long as the bone surrounding the tooth was not broken, it is likely to accept the tooth and be fully healed in six to eight weeks. Your dentist may also use a soft wire or other material to create a dental splint that holds the tooth in place, using nearby teeth as an anchoring system. Your dentist will also advise you about follow-up visits, brushing, flossing and eating.

Dentists are trained to treat dental emergencies. Dental problems don’t go away on their own. If you need caring, expert treatment for a knocked out tooth or any other dental issues, call El Portal Dental at (209) 385-1479 today or schedule an appointment online.


Blog Dealing with a Dental Emergency
Blog Dealing with a Dental Emergency

Life Happens: What to Do in a Dental Emergency

Things can often happen fast. You can be busy with your day one minute, and urgently in need of dental care the next. A dental emergency can occur any time of the day or night. From a lost filling to a throbbing toothache, a broken or damaged tooth to a lost crown or bridge, dental emergencies happen every day.

What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?

A dental emergency is any situation in which you need immediate treatment to prevent the permanent loss of a tooth, alleviate pain or stop excessive bleeding. A dental emergency can also arise from an abscess or infection which needs to be addressed immediately. Many people do not know that severe infection in the mouth or jaw can actually become life-threatening if left untreated.

What to do in a Dental Emergency

Your actions will largely depend on the severity of the injury or illness. For instance, if your face or jaw has swollen, it is likely that you have a serious infection and need to contact a dentist immediately. A dentist can assess the condition and prescribe appropriate medications such as an antibiotic and or medication to reduce pain and inflammation. You should also exercise care if there is bleeding and or swelling and avoid lying down, to prevent choking.

If you Have Knocked Out a Tooth

Call your dentist as soon as possible. Try to recover the tooth is you can. Be careful to pick it up by the top or crown instead of the pointy area on the bottom, which is the root. Your dentist may advise you to try gently replacing the tooth, again without touching the root. You can look into a mirror to see how the teeth on either side are placed. You can also place a tooth in milk to keep it moist or hold it gently between your cheek and gum to protect the tooth.

Cracked or Broken Teeth

If you have chipped, broken or cracked a tooth, you are probably going to need at least a filling, if not a crown. Your dentist will be able to assess the amount of damage and recommend a treatment plan to correct it. If you are in pain, you will want to see your dentist immediately. If you are not in pain, you should still contact your dentist to schedule a visit and advise them of the situation. You may notice some sensitivity if the nerve has been exposed. Try to avoid very cold or very hot food and eat on the other side until you can see your dentist.

If you are Bleeding from the Mouth

Bleeding can be caused by a variety of things. Blood on floss, for example, could mean early gum disease. Bleeding after an injury or a procedure may need to be evaluated by your dentist. If, for instance, you have had a dental procedure that continues to bleed, you will need to contact your dentist as soon as possible. Prolonged bleeding can be a medical emergency. You need to keep your head up, to minimize bleeding, just as you would want to elevate an injured hand or foot.

When in Doubt, Call Us.

As a rule of thumb, when in doubt contact a professional. Dentists are trained to treat all forms of dental emergencies. Dental problems do not go away on their own and the sooner you can get treatment, the better. If you’re in need of expert care for your teeth, call El Portal Dental at (209) 385-1479 today or schedule an appointment online. No problem is too big or too small. Our caring dentists are always happy to help you get the outstanding dental care you and your loved ones deserve.