What It Takes to Become a Board-Certified Dentist | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

Embarking on the journey to become a board-certified dentist is a commendable pursuit that requires dedication, education, and a passion for oral health. This transformative path not only elevates your professional status but also ensures a commitment to the highest standards of patient care.

  • Educational Foundation:

The journey to becoming a board-certified dentist begins with a solid educational foundation. Pursue a bachelor’s degree with a strong focus on the sciences, and subsequently, complete a rigorous dental program from an accredited dental school. This education lays the groundwork for a comprehensive understanding of oral health, anatomy, and the technical skills required in dentistry.

  • Clinical Experience:

Building hands-on experience through clinical rotations, internships, or residencies is invaluable for honing your skills and gaining exposure to diverse patient cases. These experiences not only enhance your clinical proficiency but also provide insights into effective communication and patient management.

  • National Board Dental Examinations (NBDE):

To progress towards board certification, successfully passing the National Board Dental Examinations is crucial. This two-part examination assesses your understanding of biomedical and dental sciences, as well as your clinical knowledge and skills. Achieving a competitive score demonstrates your readiness for the challenges that lie ahead.

  • Dental Licensure:

After completing dental school and passing the NBDE, obtain a dental license by fulfilling the requirements of your state dental board. Licensure is a prerequisite for practicing dentistry independently and is a stepping stone towards eligibility for board certification.

  • Postdoctoral Education:

Many specialty boards require additional postdoctoral education, such as completing a residency program or an accredited advanced education program. This specialized training allows you to delve deeper into your chosen area of expertise, whether it be oral surgery, orthodontics, or periodontics.

  • Specialty Board Certification:

Once you’ve met the educational and clinical requirements, pursue board certification in your chosen specialty. The process typically involves written and oral examinations, case presentations, and an assessment of your clinical skills. This certification signifies your commitment to excellence and distinguishes you as an expert in your field.

  • Continuing Education:

Maintaining board certification is an ongoing commitment to staying current with advancements in dentistry. Engage in continuous learning through conferences, workshops, and ongoing education courses to ensure that your skills and knowledge remain at the forefront of the field.

  • Professional Involvement:

Active involvement in professional organizations and societies is essential for networking, staying informed about industry trends, and contributing to the advancement of dentistry. It also demonstrates your dedication to the ethical standards and principles upheld by the dental community.

Becoming a board-certified dentist is a multifaceted journey that demands unwavering dedication, continuous learning, and a passion for providing exceptional patient care. By following these steps and embracing the challenges along the way, you can elevate your career, earn the trust of your patients, and contribute to the advancement of oral health care. Embark on this transformative path, and let your commitment to excellence in dentistry shine.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

Unraveling the Differences Between Private and Commercial Dental Practices | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

When it comes to oral health, the choice between a commercial dental practice and a private dental practice is a decision that many individuals face. Each type of practice has its unique set of characteristics, catering to diverse preferences and needs.

Commercial dental practices, often part of larger corporate chains, are characterized by their accessibility and widespread availability. These practices are typically found in bustling commercial areas, making them convenient for individuals seeking dental care in the midst of their busy lives. With extended hours and walk-in appointments, commercial practices prioritize accessibility, aiming to accommodate a broad spectrum of patients.

Private dental practices are smaller, independently owned clinics that often foster a more personalized atmosphere. These practices are commonly run by a single dentist or a small group of practitioners, emphasizing continuity of care and a deeper patient-dentist relationship. Private practices are known for their patient-centered approach, where individuals can expect more individualized attention and a familiar face during each visit.

One of the defining differences between commercial and private practices is the approach to treatment plans and procedures. Commercial practices may employ a more standardized approach, driven by corporate guidelines, whereas private practices often have the flexibility to tailor treatment plans to the specific needs and preferences of their patients. This personalized touch can create a more comfortable and reassuring experience for individuals seeking dental care.

Cost considerations also play a significant role in the decision-making process. Commercial practices may offer competitive pricing and package deals, appealing to those on a budget. Private practices, while potentially perceived as more expensive, often provide a transparent breakdown of costs and may work with patients to explore financing options. The emphasis on quality and personalized care in private practices can be a worthwhile investment for those who prioritize a comprehensive and individualized dental experience.

The choice between a commercial and private dental practice ultimately boils down to individual preferences, priorities, and the level of care one seeks. Whether it’s the convenience and accessibility of commercial practices or the personalized touch of private clinics, both options contribute to the diverse landscape of dental care, ensuring that individuals can find a provider that aligns with their unique needs and expectations.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

The Lighter Side of Medicine: Exploring the Wonders of Laughing Gas | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

Laughter, they say, is the best medicine. But what if you could inhale laughter? Enter nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, is a fascinating and widely used anesthetic with a side effect that has everyone smiling – uncontrollable fits of laughter. Let’s take a closer look at this whimsical gas and its surprising role in the world of medicine.

The Science Behind the Laughter

Nitrous oxide, or N2O, is a colorless and virtually odorless gas that has been used in medical settings for over a century. It works by depressing the central nervous system, inducing a state of relaxation and mild euphoria. Its pain-relieving and anxiety-reducing properties make it a popular choice for dental procedures and certain medical surgeries.

The Unexpected Side Effect

What sets laughing gas apart is its delightful side effect: laughter. When administered in controlled amounts, nitrous oxide can trigger bouts of uncontrollable giggles and laughter in patients. This unexpected reaction has earned it the colloquial name “laughing gas.” Imagine a dental appointment turning into a lighthearted experience, with both patients and dental professionals sharing a moment of joy amidst the serious work.

Beyond the Dentist’s Chair

While commonly associated with dental procedures, laughing gas has found its way into other realms of medicine. It is often used during childbirth to ease the pain and anxiety of expectant mothers. In some cases, it has even been employed in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. The laughter-inducing quality of nitrous oxide has led researchers to explore its potential as a therapeutic tool for mental health.

Safety and Considerations

Despite its lighthearted reputation, laughing gas is a potent substance that should be administered by trained professionals in controlled environments. It’s important to note that misuse or overuse can have adverse effects. Like any medical intervention, it comes with its set of considerations, and individual reactions can vary.

Laughing gas, with its dual role as an effective anesthetic and a bringer of laughter, adds a touch of whimsy to the world of medicine. As science continues to unlock its secrets, we may find even more reasons to smile about this intriguing compound. So, the next time you find yourself in a dentist’s chair, don’t be surprised if a dose of laughing gas turns your appointment into an unexpected comedy show.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

The Importance of Consistent Oral Hygiene Habits | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

Maintaining optimal oral hygiene is a cornerstone of overall health and well-being. Our mouths are the gateway to our bodies, and the state of our oral health can have a significant impact on various aspects of our lives. Developing and consistently practicing good oral hygiene habits is essential for preventing dental issues, ensuring fresh breath, and promoting overall health.

1. Brushing Twice a Day

The foundation of a healthy oral hygiene routine begins with regular brushing. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day, using fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brushing helps remove plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that can lead to cavities and gum disease. It’s crucial to spend at least two minutes on each brushing session, reaching all surfaces of the teeth.

2. Flossing Daily

While brushing is crucial, it only addresses the surfaces of your teeth. Flossing is equally important, as it helps remove plaque and debris from between teeth and along the gum line where your toothbrush may not reach. Daily flossing reduces the risk of cavities and gum disease, contributing to a healthier and happier smile.

3. Mouthwash for Added Protection

Incorporating an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash into your routine can provide an extra layer of protection. Mouthwash helps kill bacteria, strengthen enamel, and freshens breath. However, it should not be a substitute for brushing and flossing, but rather a complementary step in your oral hygiene routine.

4. Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly

Toothbrushes wear out over time, and frayed bristles can be less effective at cleaning your teeth. Dentists recommend replacing your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles show signs of wear. This ensures that your toothbrush is in optimal condition for maintaining good oral health.

5. Regular Dental Check-ups

Even with diligent at-home oral care, regular dental check-ups are essential. Professional cleanings and examinations help identify and address potential issues before they become serious problems. Dentists can also provide personalized advice on your oral hygiene routine and recommend specific products tailored to your needs.

In conclusion, cultivating healthy smiles involves a combination of consistent oral hygiene habits and regular dental check-ups. By prioritizing these habits, you not only invest in your oral health but also contribute to your overall well-being. Remember, a healthy smile is a key component of a vibrant and confident life.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

Understanding Oral Infections | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

A poor oral care routine can contribute to the onset of oral infections. The steps we need to take to maintain proper hygiene and avoid oral infections is fairly well-known, but how well-known are the infections themselves? Here are a few of the most common oral infections that one may develop over the course of their life.

Gingivitis– Simply put, Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. It is the precursor to Periodontitis, the escalation of Gingivitis should it go untreated. Gingivitis is the result of plaque buildup that spreads from the gums to the ligaments that support the teeth.

Periodontal Disease– When left untreated, Gingivitis may spread below the gum line, affecting the supportive tissues and bone of our teeth. This progression is known as Periodontal Disease which deteriorates these support leading to the potential loss of teeth and may even spread to the lungs causing pneumonia.

Canker Sores– These are cuts that develop on the gums and other mouth tissues and are common in children and teens. Vigorous brushing, cheek bites, and sports injuries – as well as hormones and immune problems, may lead to canker sores.

Oral Herpes– According to centerforbeautifulsmiles.com, “50-80 percent of American adults” carry the Herpes Simlex Virus. This can lead to “blisters and ulcers on the gums and tongue, flu-like symptoms, or no symptoms at all.” While there are things individuals can do to keep the virus dormant, an outbreak may last ten days to two weeks.

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease– Toddlers and school-aged children are the most susceptible to Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. The virus Coxsackie A16 is spread by direct contact with saliva and mucus; children are particularly unconscious of their direct exposure to these fluids. Children may experience fever, sore throat, and the development of painful blisters on their body but should only last a few days.

Herpangina– Similar to Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, Herpangina typically affects children and presents itself with fever symptoms and difficulty swallowing. Yet, unlike Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, it forms blisters on the back of the mouth that once ruptured, become ulcers. Symptoms typically only last a few days.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures You Should Know | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

When we think about cosmetic procedures in general, many think you need to go under the knife to achieve the results you want. Yet, that is far from the case with cosmetic dentistry procedures. While it’s true there are some means of employing cosmetic changes that may require more invasive treatment, many do not. Here are some common cosmetic procedures and what you can expect from treatment.

Teeth Whitening – a common procedure for cosmetic dentists is teeth whitening. Coffee, tobacco, alcohol, predisposition, and many other things can contribute to a less-than-white smile. If over-the-counter methods haven’t quite worked to bring back your pearly whites, you may consider speaking with a cosmetic dentist for a more intense treatment.

Dental Bonding– for chipped, cracked or gapped teeth, your dentist will apply a tooth-colored resin to the chipped area. They will layer resin, utilizing a UV light to harden it as they go, in order to build back the original look of the chipped tooth or teeth.

Veneer Application – you can think of a veneer as a thin shell that fits over the surface of your existing teeth to improve the color, shape, size, or length of teeth. Veneers are made of porcelain or a resin composite and permanently bonded to the teeth.

Gum Reshaping – when your gums appear more pronounced than your teeth, or your gemlike is uneven, a cosmetic dentist may recommend gum reshaping. Essentially, a small amount of gum or bone tissue is removed or contoured to even out the appearance of your gum line or tooth ratio.

Crowns – similar to a veneer, dental crowns are a porcelain or ceramic tooth look-alike that fits over a weak or damaged tooth. Crowns are made to fully encase the tooth and can last between five to 15 years depending on how well they are cared for.

Braces – these are within the realm of cosmetic dentistry because braces shift the teeth into optimal positions for your bite and mouth size. Braces are one of the most common procedures a cosmetic dentist may perform, as tooth alignment is just as much about oral health as it is aesthetics.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

Is Mouthwash Effective for Oral Health? | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

Mouthwash is advertised to kill bacteria and give you fresh breath, but that isn’t the whole story. Mouthwash reduces the bacteria in your mouth and reduces the amount of plaque it forms. Regular use helps prevent periodontal disease, and those with fluoride work to reduce cavities when used as directed. 

For many, mouthwash seems like an unnecessary extra step and added cost to their oral care routine. Mouthwash isn’t exactly the first thing a dentist will mention when reviewing your regimen, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Mouthwash, after proper brushing and flossing, can provide peace of mind to individuals who struggle to keep cavities at bay, despite their best efforts.

What Makes Mouthwash Effective?

The bacteria-fighting active ingredient(s) in mouthwash are what make it an effective addition to your routine. Ingredients such as cetylpyridinium chloride, zinc gluconate, or quaternary ammonium are commonly found in washes. Just one of these will provide the bacteria-fighting benefits that enhance your routine.

What About Natural Mouthwash?

Some people advocate for fluoride, and others want little to do with it. Many brands make natural alternatives, utilizing essential oils or harvested ingredients like garlic as an astringent. Whatever the formula, natural mouthwashes have been shown to be effective at preventing gum disease without adding to the rise of antibacterial-resistant bacteria.

Can Children Use Mouthwash?

Children under the age of 6 should not be utilizing mouthwash, as they are likely to consume it. Once your child has developed the muscle reflexes necessary to swish and spit the wash, with adult supervision, they can begin to incorporate it into their care routine.

While mouthwash isn’t going to make or break your oral hygiene, it is a great way to round out your routine. Mouthwash may bring you peace of mind between visits or be an effective way to keep bacteria at bay for cavity-prone teeth.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

Dry Mouth: Causes and Symptoms | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

Dry mouth can be caused by a natural inability for your glands to produce sufficient saliva, medication, aging issues or as a result of radiation therapy. Dry mouth is a condition in which one’s salivary glands produce an insufficient amount of saliva to keep your mouth wet.

Saliva is important because it naturally prevents tooth decay by neutralizing acids, limits bacterial growth, and washing away food particles throughout the day. It also makes the consumption of food easier as enzymes in the saliva aid in the breakdown of food. While dry mouth is an inconvenience, it can also have a notable impact on your general and oral health.

Dry mouth complications:

– Increased plaque

– Mouth sores

– Tooth decay

– Gum disease

– Sores or split skin around the mouth

Common symptoms:

– Dryness or sticky mouth feel

– Bad breath

– Dry or grooved tongue

– Difficulty chewing, speaking, and swallowing

Due to the variety of causes for dry mouth, it’s important to discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor. Your dentist however may be a good resource for suggestions about how to protect your teeth.

At-home remedies:

– Sip water or chew ice chips during the day and during meals

– Chew sugar-free gum

– Over-the-counter saliva substitutes

– Breathe through your nose

– Utilize a humidifier

Dry mouth habits:

  – Consumption of caffeine and alcohol

– The use of tobacco, antihistamines, and decongestants

– Consumption of sugary, acidic, spicy or salty foods

Some suggestions may include a fluoride tray or rinse to prevent cavities. There are also prescription or over-the-counter artificial saliva or moisturizers to lubricate your mouth. These can be effective means of alleviating discomfort in addition to suggestions made by your physician.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

Oral Health: Myths and Misconceptions | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

With so much information about oral care practices online, we felt it was important to demystify some of the most common dental myths and misconceptions we hear and offer advice on how to move forward.

Myth 1. Brush Harder To Clean Better

This action is counter-productive, as excess pressure on your teeth can work to damage enamel rather than support it. Hard brushing also hurts our gums and can lead to a recessed gum lining over time. We recommend taking care to brush gently with a soft-bristle brush.

Myth 2. You Can Clean Your Teeth With Gum

Chewing gum is certainly not a replacement for brushing. Chewing gum can be a great way to combat sugar cravings or a candy habit, but while it makes your breath smell better, it cannot replace the benefits of brushing.

Myth 3. Don’t Brush Baby Teeth

Good oral care practices begin when we are young and proper oral care for a child’s first set of teeth matters. Tooth decay in a baby tooth can lead to complications as an adult, so we recommend a twice-daily brushing routine as soon as the child has teeth.

Myth 4. Sugar Equals Cavities

Sugar itself is not the cause of cavities, though the bacteria that eat the sugar can be. The starches and sugar themselves attract bacteria that thrive on the surface of your teeth and release an acidic compound that promotes tooth decay. Regular brushing and rinsing after eating particular sugary foods will go a long way toward preventing decay.

Myth 5. Sensitivity Means Enamel Loss

We may experience sensitivity for many reasons, and enamel loss doesn’t happen overnight. Tooth grinding, abrasive toothpaste, aggressive brushing, and lack of regular proper oral hygiene all contribute to both sensitivity and a loss of enamel. Should you lose your enamel, however, you will likely experience tooth sensitivity as well.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.

Enhance Your Smile With These Oral Care Accessories | Rancho Santa Margarita Dentist

In the ever-evolving technological age, there are a number of ways you can enhance the hygiene and aesthetic of your smile. There are also a number of gadgets on the market specifically designed to fill whatever gaps you feel are present as you strive to enhance your smile. These means essentially fall into two categories; hygienic and aesthetic. Of course, a well-rounded oral care routine is the first step towards attaining the smile you want, but if your hygiene is quite good, and you still aren’t seeing the results you want, aesthetic additions may do the trick.


Electric Toothbrushes: Do you even complete your two-minute scrub and think “My teeth don’t feel very clean”? It may be because the traditional toothbrush just isn’t cutting it anymore. Electric toothbrushes have gained popularity because they are designed to provide brush strokes that work to give you a better clean in the same amount of time. It can go a long way to providing the basic care your teeth need.

Flossers: There are so many ways to floss available for your choosing. Traditional waxed or unwaxed threads are no longer the only option. Water flossers and plush threads are great alternatives (if not better alternatives) to the floss we commonly associate with.

Tongue Scraper: While there is no definitive rule that these need to be employed in your care routine, the benefit of incorporating one is the added removal of potentially harmful bacteria. Tongue scraping removes the same bacteria that feed on the sugars left between the teeth after a meal from the surface of the tongue, improving overall hygiene.


At-Home Aligners: At-home aligners are an easy, effective means of straightening out your teeth for an enhanced aesthetic. While they aren’t meant for everyone, and you should speak with your dentist prior to incorporating at-home aligners into your oral care practices, they can gently move your teeth into their proper position and enhance your smile.

Whitening Trays: These work similarly to the teeth aligners mentioned above. Instead of working to straighten your teeth however, you simply mold the trey to your teeth, brush on the included whitening solution to the inside of the tray and allow it to rest on your teeth for the prescribed amount of time. Kits are easily accessible and when done properly can make your smile a few shades whiter.

UV Light: This is another means of enhancing the color and brightness of your teeth. Typically, when you employ a UV light, you first brush on the whitening solution and allow the light to rest on that set of teeth for a number of minutes. The solution and the light combination work to enhance your smile and can potentially do so up to a few shades whiter.

If you would like more information, call Dr. Herd in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA at 949-858-5147 or visit www.gregherddds.com.

Dr. Greg J. Herd proudly serves Rancho Santa Margarita and all surrounding areas.