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


Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that typically start coming in during your late teens to early 20’s.  Sometimes they grow sideways impacted in the jawbone, or sometimes they come up into the gums and become impacted, causing pain and pushing the surrounding teeth sideways. When they only partially come up through the gums, they can cause infections from causing food to become stuck in your teeth. So if wisdom teeth can cause all of these issues, why do we have them?

The answer is found in human evolution. A very long time ago, our ancestors used to eat a diet of coarse foods, such as roots, leaves, nuts, and tough meat, that required very powerful molars. Over the course of evolution our jaws have become much smaller as we have developed techniques for cutting and breaking down our coarse foods and changing our diet to consist of many softer foods. The need for the third set of molars has diminished but they are still in the process of being phased out from non-use.

Aside from the pain that comes with impacted or developing wisdom teeth, they can also become a problem if they begin pushing on your other teeth to make room to grow. Cysts and tumors can also develop from impactions, besides infection.

Our dentists frequently perform wisdom teeth extractions, as these teeth should be removed as soon as possible when you start to feel the pain in the back of your mouth/jaw. However, treatment is not necessary if your wisdom teeth grow in properly aligned and do not cause irritation.

During your wisdom tooth extraction, we will numb the affected area before distributing a topical pain reliever and injecting pain reliever into the gums. After that, the procedure to remove your affected teeth is performed with little to no feeling in the area while you are under the medication.

Recovery consists of taking an antibiotic to prevent infection in the excavated area, and pain medication if necessary. Our El Portal dental team will provide you with aftercare instructions on how to care for your healing jaw, such as applying ice packs to reduce any swelling, as well as modifying your diet to consist mainly of soft foods.

Having regularly scheduled dental cleanings and checkups with the El Portal team allows us to monitor the progressive growth of your wisdom teeth. Through X-ray imaging, we can track and predict the pattern of your wisdom teeth before impactions become worse.

Have you seen your dentist yet this year?  Are you experiencing pain in your molars? Call (209) 385-1479 or request an appointment at our dental office in Merced online today.

Have you had your wisdom teeth removed due to pain or crowding? What was your favorite post-op food to eat?



Can Earplugs Help You to Stop Grinding Your Teeth?
Can Earplugs Help You to Stop Grinding Your Teeth?

Do you ever wake up in the morning with terrible soreness in your jaw or neck? Do you suffer from regular earaches or tension-type headaches? If you said yes to these questions you might be suffering from a condition called bruxism.

The word bruxism is medical terminology for grinding of the teeth, and it can be caused by a number of things – feelings of anxiety or anger, misalignment of the upper and lower teeth, stomach acid reflux, as a side effect of certain medications or diseases, or just as a habitual coping method.

Finding relief from the symptoms that come with constantly grinding your teeth can be difficult since splints can be irritating to wear and prevent you from sleeping naturally. Luckily, we now have alternatives available such as the Cerezen earplug.

A special type of earplug, each set is specially molded to perfectly fit the wearer’s ear canal. The concept behind these earplugs is to fit right behind the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) in order to create pressure on the joint whenever you attempt to clench or grind your teeth together. This pressure then causes your ear canal to contract, pushing down on the earplug and causing mild discomfort. This causes your jaw to subconsciously correct itself, basically training your mouth not to participate in this behavior any more.

Grinding your teeth can cause a whole lot of health problems, especially for your mouth. When you bite down, your jaw is able to produce approximately 120 pounds of pressure. Think of all the damage that kind of pressure can do to your teeth!

Over time, your teeth will wear down and you may end up needing crown replacements or other restorative surgery. More immediate symptoms of this condition include pain-causing tension in the muscles of the face, neck and back.

Are you interested in using a splint or earplug to treat bruxism? Our Merced dentists, including, Dr. Alois Regalado, will certainly thank you for your dedication and diligence in protecting your teeth from harm!  For more information about treatments for teeth grinding, or to schedule an appointment, call us today at (209) 385-1479.

Would you ever consider wearing a set of Cerezen earplugs to stop teeth grinding? Why or why not?



Great American Smokeout Day is Coming – Are You Ready to Quit Smoking?
Great American Smokeout Day is Coming – Are You Ready to Quit Smoking?

November 17, 2016 - this is THE DAY. It will be a big day for smokers across the nation this year, as it is designated as the date that hundreds of smokers will make the decision to quit. Will you be one of them? The American Cancer Society has deemed it National Smokeout Day, a day for your community to come together and support one another in making the difficult decision to stop harming their bodies with tobacco once and for all.

El Portal Dental Group respects those who are strong enough to commit to the cause, because they show respect for their bodies and overall health by doing so. The moment that you stop smoking, it’s only a matter of time before your overall health improves, including your mouth, teeth, and gums.

Smoking tobacco, no matter the delivery system (cigarette, cigar, hookah, or chewing tobacco), puts you at high risk of developing gum (periodontal) disease, the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.  When plaque, a sticky film created by a mixture of naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth as well as sugary or starchy foods, hardens onto the teeth it becomes what is known as tartar. 

Tartar bonds bad bacteria to your teeth, making it very difficult to get rid of plaque. While bacteria are held fast to your teeth, they burrow down into your gums, slowly digging and effectively loosening the tooth from the gums. This ultimately results in decay and many other dental health issues.

When you smoke, you allow less oxygen into the bloodstream, which unfortunately means that your body cannot repair or protect itself from oral health concerns as effectively as it normally could. Yet just 1 to 3 months after quitting tobacco, your body’s circulation improves significantly.

Dangers of Oral Cancer From Tobacco

Oral cancer can affect your lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat. Your risk for oral cancer increases significantly with regular use of tobacco, and it takes 5 years after quitting for that risk to lessen even just halfway.

Some of the early telling signs of oral cancer include: 

  • A red or white patch or irritation on the gums, the tongue, or the lining of the mouth
  • Unusual bleeding in the mouth
  • Swelling of the jaw

Oral cancer kills thousands every year and can only be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. The earlier it is caught, the better your chances are of recovery. However, it can be very difficult to catch in its early stages if you do not regularly visit your dentist, because early oral cancer isn’t always painful and therefore may not be noticed.

When you make the decision to smoke, you must also be prepared to take extra precautions to ensure relative healthiness. It’s important to see your dentist on a regular basis – at least twice every year – so that we can perform a thorough inspection of your mouth to keep an eye out for any early signs of diseases or cancer. Smoking can also cause undesirable cosmetic issues, like bad breath and yellow or brown stained teeth.

For a thorough cleaning and comprehensive oral cancer exam, call us today at (209) 385-1479 or request an appointment online. Our Merced dental experts can help further educate you about the dangers of smoking and support you in your quitting journey.

Do you plan on quitting on National Smokeout Day? Do you need support? Let us know and we’ll be happy to help guide you to the proper resources you need to quit smoking successfully.


It’s Not JUST a Cleaning - It’s About Prevention
It’s Not JUST a Cleaning - It’s About Prevention

You may think that when you schedule your semi-annual cleanings with us that you should simply expect a brief inspection, a quick brushing and flossing, and maybe some X-rays. However, if you’ve never been to see the El Portal Dental team, then you might just be missing out on some really important preventive measures. Most dental insurance fully covers a cleaning and check-up every 6 months, so get the most out of of your benefits and maintain a healthy smile!

We don’t just stop with your typical cleaning and X-rays, though – we go the full mile to ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy. It’s important to know how to properly take care of your teeth and gums, and the best advice always comes directly from your dentist. During your appointment, we’ll also take the time to educate you on how to take care of these essential assets for years to come, as well as answer any questions and address any concerns you might have. 

Our dental team is made up of a great group of experienced, educated and passionate individuals who will gladly provide a thorough cleaning and polishing of your teeth, removing all of the nasty built-up plaque your mouth has been harboring over the last six months. This thorough cleaning also offers the team an opportunity to really get a close-up look at all the nooks and crannies, inspecting your mouth for any signs of disease or decay.

While you’re here, Dr. Nguyen or one of our other compassionate dentists will follow-up with you, after your cleaning with one of our experienced hygienists. They will review the hygienist’s report and also inspect for any abnormalities.

Your dentist will then screen for any issue big or small, from potential cavities to signs of oral cancer.  Semi-annual screenings with the dentists can prevent some really big problems later on which may require fillings, crowns, or even root canal treatment.

Your health is important to us, so it’s important that we have plenty of time dedicated to your care and dental maintenance. That’s why when you book your cleaning appointment, we ask that you prepare to be available for at least a one-hour block. This way, you receive more than just a cleaning. You get a thorough check-up by both a dental hygienist and a dentist.

Our goal during your cleaning is to catch and correct oral issues early on so that they don’t turn into something ugly, dangerous, and potentially costly. Are you ready to schedule your next cleaning and screening? For more information, or to schedule by phone, call (209) 385-1479 today.