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


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 to Expect After Teeth Whitening
What to Expect After Teeth Whitening

Over time, our teeth can become discolored and stained. Tooth discoloration can be caused by a combination of factors, such as food, medication, smoking, and age.  Professional teeth whitening is a safe and effective way to remove stains from your teeth and to brighten your smile.  In fact, teeth whitening when performed by a dental professional carries very few risks and side effects. If you are considering teeth whitening, here’s some more things you can expect in addition to a great smile.

What can I expect after treatment?

You may experience increased sensitivity for 1-2 days following your whitening procedure.  This discomfort is due to the active ingredient in teeth whitening, hydrogen peroxide; and is mild and temporary. For most patients, this sensitivity is easily managed by avoiding hot or cold food and drinks, or by taking over-the-counter pain medication. If you have sensitive teeth prior to treatment, you are more likely to experience discomfort after the procedure. If you’re concerned about discomfort, you may consider your dentist’s take-home whitening treatment, as it contains less hydrogen peroxide. 

Additionally, your gums may appear slightly discolored or may sting for a few hours after treatment, but there is no need for alarm. This discomfort will dissipate shortly and you should be fully healed in 1-2 days following treatment.

Too much bleaching.

As you can see, teeth whitening is safe and poses few, if any, risks, as long as it is performed or prescribed by a board-certified dentist.  However, it may be possible to have too much of a good thing.  People who have too many consecutive whitening treatments are at risk of over-bleaching. Over-bleaching is when a person overexposes their teeth to the hydrogen peroxide in whitening gel.  Over-bleaching can cause the outer layers of your enamel to wear away, which can leave the dentin and soft inner tissues exposed and vulnerable. This over-exposure can lead to lasting sensitivity.  It can actually lead to permanent discoloration, as dentin is naturally darker than tooth enamel. Because the dentin and soft tissues are exposed, you are left vulnerable to injury or disease.  Over-exposure may eventually require you to get permanent protection for your teeth using porcelain veneers or crowns. If you’ve done teeth whitening in the recent past, speak to your dentist to determine if enough time has passed before doing another treatment.

Is teeth whitening right for me?

Teeth whitening is most effective on surface stains, which are normally the result of food, drinks, or tobacco.  Deeper stains, caused by medication usage or injury, can be more difficult to remove. Your dentist will evaluate you to see if teeth whitening is a good treatment option.  If not, alternative options such as dental bonding or porcelain veneers are available. If you already have restorations, such as crowns or veneers, be aware that they may not be as responsive to whitening treatment as your natural teeth. If that is the case, your dentist can replace them to make them whiter and to blend in more with your natural teeth.

Professional treatment by an experienced dentist can greatly minimize the risk of accidental gum exposure to the whitening gel, which could cause burning.  Your dentist will have aptly fitted dental trays, which helps to prevent the whitening gel from leaking onto the gums. 

You are just one office visit from whiter teeth and a gorgeous smile.  Dr. Khang Nguyen and the dentists at El Portal Dental Group in Merced, California welcome the opportunity to make your teeth beautifully white and healthy by offering both in-office and take-home teeth whitening options. The friendly and knowledgeable staff makes it their priority to provide you with the personalized care you deserve.  To schedule an appointment, please call our office at (209) 385-1479 or request an appointment online.

 


Top 5 Dental Myths Debunked
Top 5 Dental Myths Debunked

When it comes to maintaining good oral health and a gleaming smile, having the right information is important. Surprisingly, though, certain myths about dental hygiene still persist that could lead to unnecessary problems with your teeth if they are believed and followed.

Here are five common dental myths that should be put to rest:

Myth #1: Brushing and flossing twice a day isn’t as important as dentists have you believe.

In our busy modern world, it’s easy to become lax about dental hygiene. Nevertheless, there is a very good reason why brushing and flossing at least twice a day makes sense. 

Most people have three meals a day, not including snacks here and there. Every time we eat, small food particles get left behind in our gums and between our teeth. Those food particles breed bacteria and, if not removed, eventually become plaque and then tartar.  However, if you brush in the morning and again at night, it helps reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth and keeps your tooth surfaces smooth so that bacteria can’t cling as easily. 

However, brushing only covers two sides of your teeth. It hardly affects the spaces between your teeth. That’s why flossing is also important. It removes food particles trapped between your teeth and should be done each time you brush. If flossing daily is a chore, however, at least floss every other day to keep your teeth and gums healthy. 

Myth #2: Brushing your teeth more than once a day can erode tooth enamel.

It’s not the frequency of brushing that can wear down tooth enamel; it’s mostly other factors such as the acid produced by bacteria in your mouth, acid reflux, grinding teeth, and nail-biting. However, a hard-bristled toothbrush can also affect the wear and tear of your tooth enamel. That’s why most dentists recommend that you use a soft toothbrush to avoid damage to your teeth and gums.

Also, it’s a matter of brushing your teeth properly. It should only take about two minutes. Brush gently, in short strokes at a 45-degree angle from the gum line, and use up-and-down strokes brushing the back of your teeth. Hold your toothbrush with your fingertips as opposed to in the palm of your hand to avoid brushing too hard. Rule of thumb, you’re brushing too hard if the bristles bend.

Myth #3: If you eat sugary foods, it’ll destroy your teeth.

Having a sweet tooth doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doomed to have tooth decay. There’s a simple way to have your cake – and candy and other sweets – and beat tooth decay, too.

What happens is that the bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and other carbohydrates and produces an acid that deteriorates the enamel of your teeth. And the longer the sugar lingers in your mouth, the more likely the bacteria will feed off it and produce the acid.

So, the problem isn’t how much sugar you’re eating, but how long the sugar remains on your teeth. The obvious solution is to brush your teeth and rinse out your mouth right after eating, especially if you also sip sugary drinks.

Myth #4: Teeth whitening will ruin your enamel.

Teeth whitening gel (or bleach) does not damage tooth enamel. The hydrogen peroxide is soaked up by the inner tissue of your teeth (dentin), which becomes lighter, and the whiter color is reflected out through the enamel. The process can cause temporary tooth sensitivity, but no erosion of the enamel.

New advances in dental technology have made teeth whitening safer and more effective – for both cosmetic dental procedure and in-office and over-the-counter products.

Myth #5: Dental visits are painful.

This is a common excuse for avoiding dental visits, no doubt fostered by scenes of dentists drilling cavities and prodding sensitive teeth in movies and television shows. Some patients might even have had a bad experience at a dental office that makes them dread seeing any dentist. 

However, dentistry has evolved over the years to the point where a patient’s physical and emotional comfort has become a top priority. One option that eliminates the pain and fear is sedation dentistry. Conscious sedation is administered in the form of a pill that allows you to be awake throughout your dental appointment, yet relaxed throughout a procedure.

Getting the facts straight is an important part of proper dental care. Before skipping a routine visit or trying an unproven treatment, visit a trusted dental practice. For more information about maintaining your dental health, contact El Portal Dental Group in Merced, California at (209) 385-1479. Our dental health experts are here to help you keep your mouth and your smile healthy and bright all year long.

 


The Oral Cancer Foundation Announces the "Check Your Mouth" Campaign
The Oral Cancer Foundation Announces the

Most Americans have never heard of oral cancer, let alone how deadly it is. Oral cancer kills one person in the United States every hour of every day, all year round. In 2018, there will be approximately 50,000 Americans diagnosed with this form of cancer, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Oral and oropharyngeal cancers affect the base of the tongue, the tonsils, the soft palate, and the walls of the throat. Although relatively rare, these cancers have a very high mortality rate due to the fact that many cases are discovered at a late stage of the disease. The lack of awareness among the general public has made it a silent threat. And its prevalence seems to be on the rise. 

The Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) has launched a nationwide public service campaign aimed at the early discovery of oral cancer. Their "Check Your Mouth™" effort is based on an interactive website designed to familiarize individuals with the disease, empowering them to find its early signs and symptoms through self-examination. Timely discovery of oral cancer, as with most cancer, may lead to less invasive treatments, and better outcomes and survival. 

Tobacco and alcohol

You may already know that tobacco use increases risk of oral cancers. High alcohol consumption can also put you at risk for oral cancer. Tobacco use of any form is a blatantly obvious oral health hazard, directly contributing to an increased risk of oral cancer.

HPV and oral cancers

According to the OCF site, the increase in oral cancer diagnoses may be the result of infection by a certain variant of the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV virus is common; The Centers for Disease Control states that 80% of Americans will have an HPV infection at some point in their lifetimes. For most people, the immune system clears the virus from their body, doing no harm whatsoever.

For a small number of Americans, however, the immune system can’t clear the virus, which can stay dormant for several years. Decades later, the infection may resurface and progress into cancer. 

Public awareness 

The "Check Your Mouth" site was designed to help people avoid the disease when possible, and teach them how to recognize its early signs and symptoms, and when to seek the advice of a dentist or other healthcare professional. 

The Self-discovery video at the site provides step-by-step directions on how to perform your own visual and tactile examination. This “Check Your Mouth™” exam actually starts outside of your mouth by looking at yourself in the mirror. The first step begins with checking your neck and lymph nodes and proceeding to checking the inside of your cheeks, your lips, gum tissues and tongue. It then moves to the floor and roof of your mouth and ends with the back of your mouth and tonsils.

The main objective of this OCF campaign is to reduce the incidence of difficult to treat, late stage oral cancer. The best outcomes, like most forms of cancer, occur with the earliest possible diagnosis. In the case of oral cancer, either a timely self-examination or regularly scheduled dental exams are vital for finding any signs of cancer.

Remember that you can perform self-examination, but only a dentist or healthcare professional can determine the presence of the disease. You can take the first step to beating oral cancer by visiting the “Check Your Mouth™” website.  

If you would like more information about oral cancer screening and prevention, 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.


The Proper Way to Care for Your Dentures
The Proper Way to Care for Your Dentures

Dentures are a great option for those with badly damaged, worn down or missing teeth. Good dentures can dramatically improve your appearance, while enhancing your overall quality of life. With strong, lovely dentures you can smile broadly, enjoy eating all your favorite foods without worry, and speak clearly. Dentures can last a lifetime with the right care. That’s why we created this handy guide to help you understand the proper way to care for your dentures.

Proper Denture Care

Although caring for your dentures is simple, it is also very important. The first thing to know is that even though dentures are incredibly strong and can stand up to the immense pressure of chewing, they can still break if handled roughly. Make sure you always handle your dentures carefully.

Cleaning your dentures is simple. Carefully brush them to remove food particles which can easily stick to the surfaces of dentures. Food particles and plaque can irritate or cause infections in the soft tissues of your mouth. Besides discomfort, excess food particles can begin to become rancid in a matter of hours, causing unpleasant breath, as well as discomfort in your mouth. Be sure to clean dentures your thoroughly after meals. And don’t forget to rinse out and clean the inside of your mouth too.

Always be careful not let your dentures dry out, because this can cause them to warp, making them less comfortable, or even unwearable. When you have removed them, be sure to gently clean them and then place them into a wet solution of denture cleanser, or in water. You can also use a soaking tablet to help clean your dentures and kill harmful bacteria.

Dentures also have micro pores, which can be exploited by microscopic bacteria. Placing them in a cleaning solution can help prevent bacteria from building up on your dentures. Make sure to follow the label instructions carefully so that the solution is just the right balance to protect your dentures. Additionally, do not place dentures in boiling or hot water. This can damage the dentures. Remember to take your dentures out when you sleep, as this helps maintain a healthy mouth.  

At El Portal Dental Group, we are experts in all areas of dentistry - including dentures. If you, or a loved one is in need of exceptional dental care, or to learn more about dentures, please call El Portal Dental at (209) 385-1479 today, or schedule an appointment online


Top Five Things to Ask Your Dentist About Veneers
Top Five Things to Ask Your Dentist About Veneers

Cosmetic dentistry has never been more affordable, allowing more and more people to achieve the ideal smile they have always wanted. Even if you have worn down, cracked, chipped, unevenly spaced, or otherwise unappealing teeth, you may be able to achieve stunning results with porcelain veneers. They may not be right for everyone, though. If you are considering getting porcelain veneers, be sure to ask your dentist these five things before making your decision.

At El Portal Dental, our dedicated dentists are experts in all areas of their craft, including restorative and cosmetic dentistry. They understand that an informed patient is an empowered patient. That’s why our dentists take the time to sit down with you, answer all of your questions and create a plan fits your specific needs. (And one that fits within your budget, too!)

Top Five Questions About Porcelain Veneers

1. The first thing you need to know is how veneers fit onto your teeth. In order to permanently bond the veneers to your teeth, a very small amount of dental material will need to be removed. If your teeth are overly sensitive, this procedure may not be right for you. Our dental experts will evaluate your teeth and determine if veneers are a suitable option for you.

2. The next concern you may need to discuss is that porcelain veneers are permanent. The procedure cannot be reversed. Each veneer must be carefully placed an evaluated before bonding. The good news is that veneers are lovely and natural looking because of the way they capture the light. They are durable, customizable, and hide unsightly cracks, blemishes, and gaps in your teeth.

3. Before using veneers, you should ask about any ongoing care. How long do they last? What kind of special care, if any, do they require? Many people, for example, wonder if veneers are stain resistant. They are. Porcelain veneers can stand up to most everyday stain makers like coffee, tea and wine.

4. How long does the process take? Most veneers can be placed in as little as two visits. Your dentist will discuss any potential issues, as well as explain the exact steps required for placement of your new veneers. Some patients do require more preparation than others, such as trimming the teeth down in order fit them perfectly.

5. Lastly, you should ask about any other procedures that might be a better fit than, or could be used in conjunction with, porcelain veneers. The truth is that your needs and smile goals are unique. What works for one patient, may not be right for another. Our skilled and caring dentists can explain the exact reasons they do, or do not, recommend porcelain veneers for you. As caring and highly skilled cosmetic dentists, we work to create positive dental experiences that truly meet your specific needs.

If you, or a loved are interested in porcelain veneers, or to learn more about any other advanced dental procedures, or to make a personalized appointment, please call El Portal Dental at (209) 385-1479 today or schedule an appointment online