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


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.


Preparing for Your Root Canal
Preparing for Your Root Canal

You’ve just gone to the dentist and have been told that you need root canal therapy. You’ve certainly heard of it before, but do you know how to prepare for one or what you should expect?

First it’s important to understand why a root canal has been recommended for you. In short, your teeth contain one or more canals that contain pulp. This pulp consists of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. When it becomes infected (usually from a cavity that has been left untreated), it can cause extreme pain and can lead to serious infections spreading throughout the body. In order to treat this, root canal therapy is prescribed.

Now that you know why it’s being done, let’s take a look at how it is done.

After being numbed or sedated, your dentist will use a drill to make a small hole in the top or back of the tooth so he or she can remove the infected pulp. Your root canals are then measured, cleaned, and filled with anti-infection medication. Your tooth may be filled with a temporary filling and then permanently sealed with a crown. You may also be given an antibiotic to help clear the infection, which might take a bit more time.

Preparing for a Root Canal in Merced

So, what can you do to prepare for your root canal? Below is a list of helpful tips that will make your root canal experience as stress-free as possible.

  1. Wear comfortable clothing. The procedure can be lengthy, so your comfort during this time is important.
  2. Before your procedure, talk with your dentist about all the medications you are taking to see if any should be stopped the day of your root canal.
  3. If you choose to be sedated, plan your transportation home, as you will not be able to drive.
  4. Avoid alcohol 12 hours before your root canal (and for 48 hours after your procedure).
  5. Do not smoke 12 hours before your root canal (and for 72 hours afterwards).
  6. Stock up on soft foods you’ll be able to eat after the procedure, such as mashed potatoes and applesauce, as your affected tooth may be sensitive from the procedure and crown.
  7. Discuss any concerns or questions with your dentist prior to the day of the root canal.

Our root canal dentists in Merced are experienced and friendly, willing to answer any questions you may have and put your mind at ease about your procedure.

Tooth infection? Tired of suffering from tooth pain? Schedule an appointment online today or call El Portal Dental at (209) 385-1479 to discuss root canal therapy or other treatment options for tooth pain.


What are Veneers and How Do They Work?
What are Veneers and How Do They Work?

What if my teeth were not so discolored?

What if that gap in between my front teeth was gone?

What if my chipped tooth could be restored?

Would I feel more confident? Would it lead to better first impressions? Could it help me land a better job?

If your teeth aren’t perfectly straight, chances are these internal thoughts often arise about your outward appearance. If so, you may be a good candidate for veneers, or artificial tooth coverings for the front of your teeth. Veneers are very thin and custom-made coverings to correct the appearance of gapped or chipped teeth and tooth discoloration.

There are three main types of veneers: composite, porcelain, and lumineer porcelain. While they all achieve the same basic goal, they vary in material and permanency. Composite veneers typically last 3 to 5 years, while lumineer porcelain and porcelain will typically last 5 to 10 years. We use porcelain veneers for a longer-lasting and more natural looking smile.


Getting Porcelain Veneers in Merced

First, you will visit your dentist here at El Portal Dental Group for a consultation and assessment. During this time, we will discuss what your goals are and which material may be best to suit your individual needs. At this time, we may also take impressions or X-rays.

In a subsequent visit, your teeth will be prepared. A local anesthetic may be used. We will remove about 1/2 millimeter of enamel from your tooth’s surface, then we can make an impression of your affected teeth. The model is then used to create your custom veneer, which we will have back in about a week.

Once your teeth are prepped and your veneer is ready, your veneer can then be bonded to your teeth. After many adjustments to make sure the color and shape of the veneer is precisely how it should be, your teeth will be cleaned, polished, and etched.

Special cement is then applied to the veneer and placed on your teeth. Once the veneer is in the correct position, your dentist will use a light to quickly cure and harden the cement. We will then check your bite and gums to make sure that the position is comfortable.

Many people who are unhappy with their teeth may think that braces or crowns are the only way to get the smile they’ve always wanted. While veneers cannot correct alignment, they offer the appearance of a brighter and straighter smile without the time commitment of traditional braces and crowns.

Questions about how veneers can help you get the smile you’ve always wanted but thought you couldn’t afford? El Portal Dental Group is available to answer any questions you may have about getting veneers in Merced. Offering extended and weekend hours, we make your trips to the dentist as convenient as possible. To schedule your appointment today, call our dental office in Merced at (209) 385-1479, or request an appointment online.




Braces Survival Guide (For Adults and Kids)
Braces Survival Guide (For Adults and Kids)

Are you one of the lucky ones who has braces, or will you or your child be getting braces soon? It can lead to a bit of anxiety knowing that you will need to adjust what you eat and how you brush and floss your teeth, not to mention the mild discomfort you may feel from time to time.

There are many ways to limit your discomfort and make your experience with braces a bit easier. Here is how to survive the coming months of treatment for misaligned teeth.

Use your dental wax, which protects your gums and the linings of your cheeks and lips. This provides a comfortable barrier from the sharp ends of wires and limits the instances of canker sores.

Just say no to hard, chewy, and/or sticky candy. These can get stuck and cause damage to your braces.  It is also important to cut up your food like steak, chicken and roasts into smaller bites.

Stock up on soft foods like mashed potatoes, applesauce, soups and macaroni and cheese. After your initial application and routine adjustments, your teeth and gums may be extra sensitive, so eating soft foods is the best way to go. There are many braces-friendly recipes available online that can make meals easier to plan.

Be prepared on the go with a dental kit. Keep extra supplies of dental wax, floss threaders, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a spiral dental brush in a travel-sized container so you can take care of your braces and any discomfort while away from home.

Keep over-the-counter pain relievers on hand to help minimize discomfort. While the majority of the discomfort goes away about a month after you get your braces, you will still need to get adjustments about every 4 to 6 weeks. Your teeth and gums may be sore after adjustments, so Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or other pain relief is a big help.

Continue your regular semiannual dental checkups. Just because you have braces doesn’t mean that you get to skip your regular oral health routines. You still need to see your regular dentist twice a year to avoid or treat cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease.

Communicate with your orthodontist. If something doesn’t feel right or you are in a considerable amount of pain, alert your provider right away instead of waiting for your next appointment. 

Ask about ClearCorrect invisible aligners for straighter teeth without the look of metal braces. This is a beneficial option for professional adults desiring a more confident smile while maintaining a mature appearance.

For more information about adult braces, our friendly staff at El Portal Dental Group in Merced is available to answer any questions you may have. We offer evening and weekend hours, emergency dental care, and the convenience of a one-stop shop with general dentistry housed in the same location as orthodontics. Initial orthodontic consultations are provided free of charge.

Call our family dentistry and orthodontic office today at (209) 385-1479 or make an appointment online.