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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:


As spring and summer are approaching, there will be an increase in outdoor activities among adults and children.  Our dentists at El Portal Dental Group would like to remind everyone who is playing sports to wear a mouth guard and other forms of facial protections to prevent getting injured.  According to American Dental Association, an athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth when not wearing a mouth guard.  Mouth guards help buffer the impact that otherwise would cause broken teeth or facial injuries.  Mouth guards may reduce the rate and severity of concussion.  Our dentists at El Portal Dental Group can make a custom mouth guard for you and your child that is comfortable and offer superior protection.  Because treating dental related injuries can cost thousands of dollars, a custom mouth guard is worthwhile investment.   If you have any questions regarding any dental relates, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 209-385-1479 or check out our website at www.elportaldentalgroup.com. 


A change in their sense of taste is usually related to an upper respiratory problem. This occurs because sense of taste is closely related to acuity of the sense of smell, and anything that impairs the sense of smell will cause a change in the acuity of taste as well. For example, impaired taste is very common in those who have nasal polyps, frequent throat infections, or chronic sinus congestion. If you have symptoms such as sore throat, cough, sneezing, or nasal congestion, these are probably related to the change in your ability to taste foods. The first step would be to go see your primary care doctor, who can perform a thorough examination and help figure out what might be the upper respiratory cause. Very effective treatments are available for all of these conditions. .  Some vitamin deficiencies, such as iron deficiency or B vitamin deficiency may cause inflammation of the tongue and loss of taste.  Specially, loss of taste sensation can be related to bad oral hygiene or tooth infections .  This can be easily treated by visiting your dentist.  Call El Portal Dental Group for an appointment.

El Portal Dental Group is located at 3393 G Street, Ste B, Merced, CA 95340. Visit our website at www.elportaldentalgroup.com for more information.


Yes. A soft-bristled toothbrush works well to clean full or partial dentures.  Avoid hard bristles which will damage the surface of the denture. Denture cleaners, hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid are suggested for cleaning, as toothpastes are too abrasive.

Denture wearers should pay attention to their mouths, even if they have no or few teeth remaining. Mouths should be brushed with a soft-bristled toothbrush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Pay special attention to cleaning teeth that fit under the denture’s metal clasps. Plaque that becomes trapped under these clasps will increase the risk of tooth decay.  Patients with dentures are still recommended to see your dentist every 6 months. 

El Portal Dental Group is located at 3393 G Street, Ste B, Merced, CA 95340. Visit our website at www.elportaldentalgroup.com for more information.


Did you know, 3 out of 4 children have crowded teeth and incorrectly developing jaws. These problems can be seen from as early as 5 years of age.

These habits such as mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, reverse swallowing and thumb sucking are the real causes of crooked teeth. Allergies, asthma and an open mouth posture also contribute to incorrect jaw development. Growing up, most of us have had one or more of these habits, which may have been the cause of incorrect dental and facial development.

Just getting braces, with or without extractions, does not address the underlying causes of crooked teeth. This is why once the braces are removed, the teeth usually crowd up again, unless poor oral habits are corrected. This is why treatment with braces alone commonly results in the need for life-long retainers.

At El Portal Dental Group, we do braces (orthodontic treatment) as well.  Give us a call for a complimentary consultation at 209-385-1479. We are located at 3393 G Street, Ste B, Merced, CA 95340.  Visit our website at www.elportaldentalgroup.com for more information. 

Why Do We Need to Floss?

We know you hate it, but flossing really does preserve the health and aesthetics of your smile.

Every six months, when you visit your dentist for a cleaning, you always have to listen to a lecture of how important it is to floss. We know you don’t like to hear it but we have to do our part of educating our patients the benefits of flossing. 

Flossing does about 40% of the work required to remove sticky bacteria, or plaque, from your teeth. Plaque generates acid, which can cause cavities, irritate the gums, and lead to gum disease. People who preserve the height of that bone by flossing look better as they age.

Choosing the Right Dental Floss

Most floss is made of either nylon or Teflon, and both are equally effective.

1.    If you have larger spaces between their teeth or with gum recession (loss of gum tissue, which exposes the roots of the teeth) tend to get better results with a flat, wide dental tape.

2.    If your teeth are close together, try thin floss (sometimes made of Gore-Tex) that bills itself as shred resistant.

3.  Bridges and braces call for a defter touch to get underneath the restorations or wires and between the teeth. Use a floss threader, which looks like a plastic sewing needle.

Flossing Tips

Perfect your flossing technique. Use a piece of floss 15 to 18 inches long, slide it between the teeth, wrap it around each tooth in the shape of a "C," and polish with an up and down motion.

Don't worry about a little blood.  Bleeding means the gums are inflamed because plaque has built up and needs to be cleaned away. Don't let that deter you.  Bleeding after a few days, however, could be a sign of periodontal disease. Talk to your dentist. Call El Portal Dental Group for appointment! 

Do Pacifiers Affect Babies’ Teeth?

Do Pacifiers Affect Babies’ Teeth?

Pacifiers can have some adverse effects on the structures of the oral cavity, especially after prolonged use. The most common effect is seen in chronic pacifier use which will cause an anterior open bite, an obvious gap between the upper front and lower front teeth when the jaw is closed. In this circumstance, the back teeth touch, but the front teeth do not.  Another common effect is a posterior cross-bite.  When the upper back teeth are tucked inside the lower back teeth due to the constant sucking habit, there will be a significantly increased overjet, a marked horizontal projection of the upper teeth beyond the lower teeth. (Overbite is when the upper teeth overlap the lower ones more than normal.)

Pacifier use past the age of 5 can delay the front baby teeth from falling out at a normal time and hinder emergence of adult teeth.  Studies have shown that increased pacifier use is associated with more ear infections and more speech and language problems. A pacifier should be used only when a child is going to sleep, then removed immediately.  The habit should end before the second birthday, but the sooner the better.



1.     Etiquette laughter: politely laugh at everything your boss says.

2.   Contagious laughter: walking into a restaurant and you see everyone is laughing, you want to laugh too.

3.   Nervous laughter:  you laugh during the time of anxiety.  You laugh in a subconscious attempt to reduce stress and calm down.

4.   Belly laughter: this is the most honest type.  Children do this a lot.

5.    Silent laughter: this type exists in laughter yoga, laughter therapy and can be called a joker’s laughter.

6.   Stress-relieving laughter: laugh to relieve stress. 

7.    Pigeon laughter:  laughing without open your mouth.

8.   Snorting laughter: blowing air out or sucking it in through the nose.

9.   Canned laughter:  this is the real laughter

10. Cruel laughter:  insensitive laughter like laughing at a funeral.

Remember laughter does not cost anything, so laugh a lot.  Not too confident with your smile, call us at El Portal Dental Group.  We will help you to gain that confidence. 

A 10-Second Kiss Is Long Enough to Transfer 80 Million Bacteria

A 10-Second Kiss Is Long Enough to Transfer 80 Million Bacteria

Love comes with kissing.  It is great that we are in love and we kiss.  However, researchers from Netherlands, leaded by Kort, a microbiologist with the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research, have found that just 10-second kiss, there will be up to 80 million bacteria being transferred.   

The true is that our mouth is a perfect host for bacteria to live.  They are part of an ecosystem of bacteria, or microbiome, that help digest and break down food.  Factors including genetics and diet influence the makeup of that bacteria.  The bad part is that if you have periodontal disease (gum disease) of which there is infection in your mouth and if you kiss, your partner will have it too.

You can enjoy kissing, just make sure your teeth and gums are healthy.  And to have a healthy mouth, don’t skip seeing your dentist every 6 months.

The Good News: Dark Chocolate Actually Prevents Tooth Decay

The Good News: Dark Chocolate Actually Prevents Tooth Decay

Chocolate lovers who indulge may need to be concerned about weight but there’s no need to worry about tooth decay. That’s because sugar alone will not produce tooth decay. And, in fact, a common ingredient found in dark chocolate actually reduces the growth of dental plaque.

Tooth decay is a multi-factorial phenomenon and the erosion process of the enamel on the tooth surface is dynamic.  Acid produced by the breakdown of food carbohydrates in the mouth is the cause of this erosion.  For tooth decay to form, bacteria on the tooth surface (plaque) must break down starch and metabolize sugars to form weak acids, mainly lactic acid, which slowly demineralize the tooth surface.  For that reason, tooth decay is the side effect of bacteria metabolizing carbohydrates and not the direct effect of sugar. Without bacteria plaque, there would be no tooth decay.

Dark chocolate has a high proportion of cocoa solids and will, therefore, retain more of the nutritional value of cocoa than milk chocolate which has a lower proportion of cocoa solids.

The other good news is that tannin in cocoa may help to prevent tooth decay by reducing the growth of plaque because the oxalic acid in chocolate appears to lower acid production.

Therefore, eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate will prevent tooth decay and eating your favorite chocolate will not be the main cause of tooth decay.  Remember to always brush and floss your teeth.  If you are a patient of El Portal Dental Group, don’t delay your cleaning appointment every 6 months.

What Are the Differences between Flexible Spending Account and Health Saving Account?

What Are the Differences between Flexible Spending Account and Health Saving Account?

Federal law allows you to pay those expenses with tax-deductible contributions to a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA).  Although these two savings accounts differ significantly, they have one thing in common: The money needs to be spent on qualified medical expenses to not incur penalties which can be paying for your dental treatments.

Flexible spending account (FSA)

·         The account can only be set up through your employer and the money you put in it is deducted from your paycheck.

·         You must let your employer know how much you want to contribute to the account before the plan takes effect.

·         Contributions are pre-tax. Starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act allows employees to carry over up to $500 into the next year without losing the funds. Even with that carryover, you can still contribute the maximum amount permitted the following year.

·         Claims that exceed the account balance may be paid up to the amount you elected to contribute that year. For example, the FSA can reimburse you $400 for a dental crown if you’ve only contributed $200 when the claim was submitted, but only if you will contribute $400 or more to the account before the end of the year. If you leave the company before your employer deducts the remaining $200, you don’t have to pay it back.

·         You can only change or revoke your elected contribution if your employment or family status changes. For example, you were married or divorced during the year, became a parent or you leave the employer.

·         Salary reduction contributions can’t exceed $2,500 a year, or be less than the minimum amount set by the plan administrator.

·         Reimbursements from FSAs require proof of service, which you can obtain when your health care provider accepts your FSA debit card as payment during an office visit. Otherwise, you will need a receipt to file a claim.

·         The coverage period ends when the plan year ends, or when your health coverage ends.

Health savings account (HSA)

·         You must be enrolled in an eligible high-deductible health plan (HDHP) to open or contribute to an HSA.

·         You can carry the entire account balance into the following year and earn interest

·         The policyholders between the ages of 55 and 65 can contribute an additional $1,000 each year.

·         You can use the tax-free contributions for future medical premiums and expenses.

·         You don’t have to fund the HSA. Guidelines for the 2015 plan year allow contributions up to $3,350 for self-only coverage, and $6,650 for self and family coverage. You have until April 15, 2015 to contribute to your HSA for 2014 medical expenses, which you can make periodically, in a lump sum, and in varying amounts.

·         You can’t contribute to an HSA if you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

·         You may still use the available funds for qualified medical expenses if you no longer have an HDHP.

·         Your designated beneficiary or estate inherits the account balance after you die.