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El Portal Dental Blog

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


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.


Which Toothpastes Work Best in Between Dental Visits?
Which Toothpastes Work Best in Between Dental Visits?

Walking through the toothpaste aisle of the store, you may be overwhelmed with the variety of toothpastes available to you. You want something that is going to be effective, but also something that is specific to your particular dental needs.

So, how do you know what is the best toothpaste for you to use at home? To start, no matter what your dental needs, the toothpaste should have the American Dental Association’s seal of approval. This ensures that the product has effective ingredients and has been tested to verify and back up any claims that the company has made.

Secondly, it’s important to determine what it is you need out of your toothpaste. Are you prone to cavities and need more cavity fighting power? Do you have sensitivity to hot or cold? Do you have healthy teeth and gums but want a whiter smile? How you answer these questions can help determine what toothpaste is best for you.

Cavity Protection Toothpastes

Cavities form when bacteria (plaque) interacts with the food you eat, causing acid to erode your tooth enamel. The best way to prevent cavities is to prevent the bacteria from coating your teeth. The mineral fluoride is used in toothpastes to coat your teeth and help prevent acid from eating away at your enamel. Look for toothpastes with a fluoride content of 1000-1500 ppm (parts per million). In some cases, your dentist may suggest a prescription toothpaste that can contain up to 5000 ppm. 

Whitening Toothpastes

If your concerns about your teeth are more cosmetic rather than health, then a whitening toothpaste may be what you are looking for. Whitening toothpastes contain mild abrasives like silica that scrub the surface of your teeth, polishing them and helping to prevent future stains. Look for toothpastes that also contain bleaching agents like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which go beyond just the surface stains to help reveal a whiter smile. For longer-lasting and more effective teeth whitening in Merced, we offer both in-office and take home whitening trays.

Sensitivity Toothpastes

Is it painful for you to eat foods that are hot or cold? If your dentist has ruled out any dental issues like cavities or gum disease, then sensitivity toothpaste can help ease your pain. Exposed dentin is the typical cause of sensitive teeth, so look for toothpaste that contains arginine and calcium that protect nerve endings by plugging open pores in exposed dentin with calcium phosphate.

For further information on what type of toothpaste is best for you, we are happy to help at your next visit. Offering extended and weekend hours, we make your trip to the dentist as convenient as possible. To schedule your appointment today, call our office at (209) 385-1479 or make an appointment online.