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


8 Causes of Sensitive Teeth
8 Causes of Sensitive Teeth

After a long, hard workout you decide to take a sip of cold water from your jug. But suddenly you feel a sharp flash of pain in your teeth. You start to wonder if there is anything wrong with you. Do not fret; chances are you experiencing tooth sensitivity. 

So, what is responsible for the pain associated with sensitive teeth? The enamel surface of healthy teeth protects the layer of dentin underneath it. Pain arises when the enamel is worn down, allowing the dentin and microscopic canals that run through the dentin to become exposed. Tooth enamel may become worn away for a number of reasons. Here is a list of things you may be doing that has led to enamel wear and contributed to tooth sensitivity:

Aggressive brushing

Brushing your teeth is necessary. However, brushing your teeth too vigorously tooth sensitivity can cause tooth sensitivity. When you brush, the protective coating on your teeth wears down over time, exposing the microscopic canals that lead to your nerves. Paying attention to how hard you are brushing is important, as is using a toothbrush with soft rather than firm bristles.

Acidic foods

Acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus could also wear down your enamel and expose the dentin underneath it. In addition to this, eating this type of food when the microscopic canals are exposed can cause extreme pain or discomfort. Simply avoiding acidic foods may provide some relief if you have sensitive teeth.

Teeth grinding

Some people who grind their teeth at night unconsciously also put their teeth at high risk of enamel erosion. To combat this, your dentist can prescribe you a custom-fitted mouth guard that prevents you from grinding your teeth while asleep.

Excessive plaque

After you eat, plaque can form and build up on your teeth. An excess of this can be harmful to your tooth’s enamel. Maintaining good oral hygiene such as flossing and brushing after eating can help to remove plaque before it can build up. You should also visit a dentist to have your teeth cleaned every six months or so.

Gum disease

Gums surround each and every one of your teeth. If your gums are damaged, they begin to recede, exposing more and more of your teeth – which can result in tooth sensitivity. Consult your dentist about the state of your gums and what you can do to improve your gum health and minimize your tooth sensitivity.

Cracked teeth

Your teeth may crack when you bite into hard foods. When this occurs, the nerves of your teeth become exposed and cause discomfort. Bacteria can also take up residence in the cracks, cause cavities and more pain.

Mouthwash overuse

Tooth sensitivity can also arise from the harsh chemicals present in some over-the-counter mouthwashes. By limiting how often you rinse your mouth with mouthwash (to once a day) can help reduce sensitivity – as can switching to a mouthwash your dentist recommends.

Tooth decay

Decay increases your risk of tooth sensitivity. Cavities can expose the dentin and nerves of your teeth, causing pain.

Feeling Good About Your Teeth 

Sensitivity to hot or cold beverages will be a thing of the past when you treat your sensitive teeth. Here at El Portal Dental Group, our dental specialists can help you achieve goal this in no time. So, what are you waiting for? Call (209) 385-1479 now or fill out our appointment request form to start feeling good about your teeth.


Five Foods that Rot Teeth
Five Foods that Rot Teeth

When it comes to preventing decay, the foods you eat play as much a role as do brushing and flossing. There are certain foods that are great for your teeth – foods like celery and apples that are loaded with natural abrasives and juices that gently slough away plaque and residue – and then there are foods that serve as catalysts for decay. For those wanting to have the perfect, healthy smile, you might want to reconsider eating certain foods. Here are five foods that are known to rot your teeth, and how even the best brushers should think twice before indulging in any foods that can do more harm than good.

Chewy/Sticky Candies and Sweets

Sweets like caramels, toffees, gummy bears have lots of sugar that serve as food for acid-producing bacteria in the mouth. Not only that, some candies are sticky enough to cling or get stuck between teeth, allowing plaque to build up. It is always a good practice to rinse first, then brush and floss your teeth after eating sweets.

Dried fruits/Canned fruits

Dried fruits like raisins, apricots, prunes, and dates have no liquid content; that means that the sugars that remain after the fruit is dried are concentrated. Even though dried fruits are full of fiber and quite filling, this excessive amount of sugar can cause plaque and decay. On the other hand, fruits that are canned in heavy syrup contain sugars and sweeteners that feed the bacteria-producing acid that can erode the enamel. Fresh fruits are still your best option for a cavity-free mouth.

Bread, Crackers, Chips, Pasta

Starchy foods like breads and pastas convert into simple sugars in the body. Aside from being sugar producers, these foods easily attach and linger for a longer time in the mouth for non-stop acid production. Plus, many breads and pastas are made from refined flour, meaning their nutritional value is minimal. If you want to incorporate breads and pasta in your diet, opt for a whole grain or vegetable-based noodle alternative.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes supply the body with much-needed Vitamin C and other nutrients that help fight infection, but the notable amount of acids they contain may harm your teeth. Best to rinse with water after eating them, then brush as normal.

Sweetened Drinks

Energy drinks, fruit juices, frappes and carbonated soft drinks are loaded with sugars and syrups that can harm your teeth. Even sugar-free diet sodas and non-carbonated sports drinks that may seem like healthy options are still acidic and sweet. Minimize or reduce the effects by rinsing with water right after consuming sweet drinks; better yet, opt for water or seltzer water with a splash of cucumber or mint for a refreshing, healthy treat for your bones and teeth.

Achieving Your Best Smile in Merced

Dental plaque is a clear, sticky films that coats your teeth and traps food debris. When acid-producing bacteria act on these films, the result can be damaging to your teeth. The good news is that maintaining a healthy mouth can be as easy as eating the right foods, brushing and flossing, and seeing a dentist who cares about you and your family. In Merced, that dentist is El Portal Dental Group, where our expert team of dentists and hygienists make it their mission to keep a healthy smile on your face. If it’s been a while since you’ve visited the dentist, why not make it a healthy habit and call El Portal Dental Group today at (209) 385-1479 or fill out our online appointment request form.


How to Take Care of Your Gums
How to Take Care of Your Gums

When it comes to keeping your mouth healthy, it’s not only about how straight or white or cavity-free your teeth are. Your gums are equally important!

Even if you have a perfect set of teeth, this doesn’t mean you’re immune to gum disease. Most people with gum disease don’t realize that anything is wrong with their gums, since it’s usually painless and not very obvious.

How Does Gum Disease Develop?

Gum disease starts when plaque (the sticky stuff that forms when bacteria collects on the surface of the teeth) builds up under and along the gum line. The bacteria in the plaque can cause infections that hurt the gum and bone, and it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

The plaque can also harden into tartar if left untreated. Unlike plaque, which is sticky, tartar is rough and porous and can lead to receding gums and gum disease.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

The initial symptoms of gum disease are usually red and swollen gums which are prone to bleeding after brushing or flossing. This stage of gum disease is called gingivitis.

If gingivitis is left untreated, the other tissues and bone that support the teeth can also become affected. This is known as periodontitis – and symptoms include an unpleasant taste in your mouth, bad breath, loose teeth, and gums that are tender, red, or swollen.

Practicing Good Oral Hygiene

The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice good oral hygiene every day. This involves the following:

Brush

Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day – especially last thing at night before you go to bed. Brushing helps to remove the plaque trapped between your teeth and gums.

Use Fluoride Toothpaste

There are lots of different toothpastes on the market today, but using a toothpaste that contains the right amount of fluoride is what is important. Fluoride is a natural mineral that effectively protects against tooth decay and gum disease.

Rinse

Using mouthwash can help reduce plaque and remove food particles and debris from your mouth, including from your gums. Just keep in mind that it is to be in addition to, not instead of, brushing and flossing.

Floss

Floss your teeth at least once a day. This helps to remove the plaque and any food debris that your toothbrush can’t reach.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is strongly associated with the onset of gum disease. Studies have shown that smokers have more tartar buildup than nonsmokers, which may be the result of a decreased flow of saliva.

Smokers also tend to have more severe bone loss and are much more likely to suffer gum destruction than nonsmokers. Not only does smoking increase the chance that you will develop gum disease, but it makes treatment much more difficult because smoking weakens your immune system – making it more difficult for damaged gums to heal.

Get Regular Dental Checkups and Cleanings

Regularly visiting your dentist ensures that any early symptoms of gum disease are detected. That way, they can be treated before they get more serious.

A professional cleaning helps to remove any plaque you have missed when brushing or flossing, and it is the only way to remove tartar effectively. If you have gingivitis, regular dental cleanings can help reverse it.

Family Dentist in Merced, CA

Whether you have symptoms of gum disease, have concerns about your teeth or gums, or are just looking for an excellent dentist, our friendly staff at El Portal Dental Group welcomes your call and looks forward to serving you.

We offer general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and orthodontic dentistry services of all kinds. If you would like to schedule an appointment or consultation, please call our office today at (209) 385-1479 or fill out our appointment request form. Let us help you enjoy excellent oral health for a lifetime.


How to Look After Your Teeth On the Go
How to Look After Your Teeth On the Go

Did you know there is a connection between poor dental hygiene and your overall health? For instance, if you have gum disease you are at a higher risk of getting heart disease? There is no question that you need to brush, floss, and use mouthwash to keep your teeth healthy, but what if you have a hectic schedule that gives you little or no time for these things or you only think about brushing twice a day? If this applies to you, sink your teeth into these tips on how you can take care of your teeth on the go.

Keep Dental Supplies with You

If you frequently forget to brush, floss, or use mouthwash in the morning, the best thing to do is keep a travel-sized toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash with you. If you work in an office, keep these things in your desk. If you travel frequently, keep them in a small bag inside your purse or backpack. If you always on the go, maybe that is what your glove compartment is for! When you run to the bathroom, take the supplies with you. It only takes a few minutes and if you have the supplies on you, you are more likely to use them!

Floss Twice a Day

Flossing is a crucial part of any dental care routine yet millions of people neglect to do it. Flossing takes less than a minute yet the benefits are tremendous. Flossing not only dislodges plaque and food particles that are trapped deep between the teeth that a toothbrush simply does not have access to, it also builds up gum strength, putting you less at risk for gum disease. Remember the last time you had popcorn at the movies or enjoyed some BBQ ribs? You wished you had floss then, and you probably wish you had it now! So remember to keep floss on you in your go kit, as well as in your nightstand to assure you remember to floss before bed.  

Chew Gum

Chewing gum is a great way to keep your teeth healthy when you have a hectic schedule. It’s easy to get, requires no prep and contains very little calories. Gum is a great way to dislodge food that’s stuck in your teeth. Gums can also help remove stubborn plaque that’s stuck on and between your teeth. Finally, chewing gum increases saliva production in the mouth which protects teeth from tooth decay and is good for tooth enamel.

Eat Healthy Snacks and Lunch

A huge component of dental care is your diet. If you have a busy schedule that doesn’t give you much time to take care of your teeth, improving your diet can help. Foods like citrus fruits, coffee, and sodas are some examples of foods to avoid or limit. They weaken the enamel and end up staining your teeth. Cut down on them and add more water to your routine. Food with natural abrasions include apples and celery; the fiber will gently slough away any excess plaque.

Rinse, Repeat

If you haven’t any time to brush or floss, a good swish of water can remove excess debris as well as residue that could stain your teeth from the likes of coffee or wine. Rinsing also helps after taking certain medications such as asthma inhalers, which leave residue that could result in thrush.  

To ensure your pearly whites are healthy, it’s essential you regularly visit a dentist. At El Portal Dental Group in Merced, California, Dr. Khang Nguyen and his staff would be happy to provide state-of-the-art dental care for you and your family. To make an appointment, call 209-385-1479 today. You can also request an appointment online.


What is the difference between Dental Crowns and Root Canals

What is the difference between Dental Crowns and Root Canals


So, you’ve made an appointment with your dentist because you have a tooth that’s been bothering you. It doesn’t hurt all the time, but every once in a while, it starts to throb. One of your friends even said, “I bet you need a root canal or a crown.” She seemed to know a lot about what she was saying, but she isn’t a dentist and you’ve never needed any dental work, so you have no idea what she’s talking about. The good news is, until you see the dentist, you don’t know what or if something actually needs to be fixed. The truth is, there are times when a crown is enough. A crown is used to cover a damaged, discolored, or disfigured tooth. Getting a dental crown can either be a necessary, or a cosmetic procedure. However, a root canal is only done when there is a problem, and it is always followed by the placement of a crown to protect the tooth. So, for peace of mind, here’s a little information on the difference between a dental crown and a root canal.

 

 

Tooth Anatomy

 

To understand a root canal, or a crown, it helps if you know a little about the anatomy of a tooth. There are several layers in every tooth. The outermost, and hardest, part of the tooth is the enamel. It is what you see when someone smiles. The next layer under the enamel is the dentin. It is softer and has millions of narrow tubes that lead directly to the center of the tooth, where the pulp is found. This is where all the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth are located. The pulp is very important as your teeth are growing and developing, because that is how nourishment gets in. However, after the tooth is fully developed, the pulp is not as important because other structures can provide nourishment to the adult tooth. What is important to note is that decay can affect all layers of the tooth, but the deeper inside the decay is, the more serious the problem.

 

What is a Root Canal?

 

A root canal is a procedure that is necessary when someone has inflammation or an infection in the pulp of the tooth. There are a number of ways that this can occur. If you have deep decay, bacteria can get into the pulp and cause an infection. It can also occur if you have a chip that provides an opening into the tooth. Repeated dental work, or injury from trauma can also cause the problems that will require a root canal. If any of these things are left untreated, you will not only experience severe pain, but may develop an abscess or even more serious infections.

 

To determine if you need a root canal, your dentist will examine you and take X-rays. Next, he or she will numb the area with local anesthetic injections. To get to the pulp, your dentist will have to make an opening in the crown (outside) of your tooth, through the enamel and dentin and into the pulp. This will be done with a small drill. Next, the dentist will use tiny instruments, or files, to clean out all of the damaged or infected pulp from inside of your tooth.  At this point, he or she might put an antibacterial solution inside the tooth to minimize the risk of further infection. Finally, your tooth will get a temporary filling and will then be sealed. The entire procedure may take one or two visits, and with modern dentistry, you should feel minimal or no discomfort. Your tooth may be a little sensitive for a few days but if you have any true pain, you should notify your dentist immediately. So, now that your tooth has been rid of any disease or infection, you will be ready to get a crown in a few weeks.

 

What is a Dental Crown?

 

A dental crown is a permanently attached structure that is cemented to your tooth, or to a dental implant. It is used to completely cover either a damaged tooth, or a tooth that is misshapen or discolored. The reason it is used after a root canal is to protect the tooth and give it strength and stability.

 

Before a crown can be cemented into your mouth, your existing tooth has to be reduced in size with a drill, by your dentist. Next, an impression of soft material will be taken, so that a mold can be made. The products of the impression will then be sent to a lab so that your crown can be made to your dentist’s specifications. A temporary crown will be placed on your tooth until the permanent crown can be put in. Once the final crown is received, and cemented into your mouth, it is permanent and can only be removed by a dentist. This is also true of crowns placed on dental implants, except of course; the implant will not need to be reduced in size before the crown is placed.

 

There are a number of different materials that a crown can be made of, depending on the location and the function of the crown. For instance, porcelain or ceramic crowns can be made to match the color of your teeth, are the most natural looking, and are best for your front teeth. However, gold and other metals are stronger than porcelain and may be recommended for teeth that are in the back and not in plain view.  It is important to discuss your options and the recommendations by your dentist before the crown is ordered from the lab.

 

So, while a root canal is only used to address a dental problem, crowns are not only indicated to cover the tooth that has had the root canal, but are also used for a number of other reasons. They can be used to cover a tooth that has been weakened from a fracture, or one that has a very large filling in it. It can also be used to cover a dental implant or to fix a fractured tooth. Sometimes a bridge (which is a complete replacement of a missing tooth) can be attached to a crown to fill a gap. And finally, crowns can be used for purely cosmetic reasons, to improve the look of a misshapen or a discolored tooth.

 

How Should I Care for My Teeth After Either Procedure?

 

Crowns should last a lifetime, although sometimes the cement loosens and it may come out. If this happens, you can try to reattach the crown using toothpaste or denture glue, but notify your dentist immediately so that it can be reattached with permanent cement as soon as possible.  Care for your crown should include good oral hygiene to prevent decay, and the avoidance of eating hard foods like ice or candy that might cause damage.

 

After a root canal, good oral hygiene is key to keeping your teeth and gums healthy and strong. This includes brushing and flossing daily, as well as cleanings and dental check-ups at least every six-months. The root canal should fix the problem at hand, but that doesn’t mean you will never have an issue with that tooth again. In some cases, root canals may need to be repeated, even years later. So, see your dentist regularly and contact them if you experience any new pain.

 

If you have any more questions about root canals or crowns, or have any other dental concerns, please call El Portal Dental at (209) 385-1479 today, or schedule an appointment online. We are here to meet all of your dental needs.

 


Toothache? What to Do while Waiting for a Dental Appointment
  • Take a painkiller. Aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen (Tylenol) will help to relieve minor pain.
  • Numb the area. Buy an over-the-counter tooth and gum numbing gel to help ease the throbbing for a few hours. These gels are applied directly to the affected area and usually work for several hours.
  • Apply a cold compress. Fill a food storage bag with ice, cover it with a thin cloth or paper towel, and apply it directly to the tooth or the cheek area just outside the tooth. The cold temperature will help ease the pain. Do not apply the ice directly to the tooth. This will increase the pain.
  • Clean your mouth thoroughly by flossing around the tooth, brushing the area, and using a rinse.
  • To help it along, make a rinse with warm water and a spoonful of sea salt. Repeat several times daily until the pain subsides.