There is not a tremendous amount of people who wake up on the morning of their dentist appointment who just can’t wait to make it into that office. If you have an appointment with a dentist in Azusa California, it’s likely you are just as unexcited as most. Even if your appointment is with the City Dental Centers Azusa location, it’s unlikely that you are trembling with anticipation for your visit. No matter how you shake it, dentist appointments just aren’t that fun. Even if you are going in for just a regular checkup and cleaning, having someone’s fingers all up in your mouth, not to mention all the cold steel tools scraping on your teeth, it just doesn’t make for a good time.
It’s easy to keep putting off that appointment with your dentist in Azusa. You reschedule and reschedule, weeks become months, and then months become years. You tell yourself that it’s fine because you are brushing regularly and you even floss on occasion, and it’s not like you have a tooth infection, so you are fine!
Well here at City Dental Centers, we are here to ruin your parade. We are going to detail exactly what happens when tooth decay begins and progresses. We will explore what happens to your enamel and teeth even when you do brush and floss regularly, and what happens when you don’t. Our plan is to educate you so that when it comes time for your City Dental Azusa location appointment, you are there with bells on.
What is Tooth Decay?
Most of us have been taught from a very young age about tooth decay. Parents will tell their children over and over that candy and sugar will rot their teeth if they eat too much, and if they don’t brush twice a day all their teeth with fall out and they will have to eat applesauce for the rest of their lives. While this is mostly accurate, there is a lot more going on in our mouths, and avoiding tooth decay is a bit more complex than just not eating sugar.
Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, is easily one of the most common diseases affecting people worldwide. In the United States, more than 1 in 4 adults have untreated tooth decay. 46% of adults aged 30 years or older show signs of gum disease and almost 10% show signs of advanced gum disease. More than half of adolescents aged 12 to 19 have had at least one cavity in permeant teeth and a quarter of all adults currently have untreated cavities.
What’s Causing Your Tooth Decay?
Research has shown that tooth decay forms through a complex interaction between acid-producing bacteria (plaque) and fermentable carbohydrates when hosted on the teeth and in saliva. Tooth decay can happen on the crowns of the teeth as well as in the roots. Everyone is suspectable to tooth decay, from the first teeth in infants and toddlers to the last remaining teeth in seniors and the elderly. Physical, biological, environmental, behavioral, and lifestyle-related factors all play a role in tooth decay as well as high numbers of cariogenic bacteria, not enough salvia production, and not enough fluoride exposure. (Selwitz, 2007)
Cariogenic bacteria (plague) are an interesting form of bacteria because when it manifests in the human mouth, it creates an environment that is actually hostile to bacteria yet it thrives. When cariogenic bacteria live in biofilm and attack the enamel of teeth by converting sugar and starch into acids that eat away at the enamel, it creates a calcium-rich environment in the mouth. Calcium is hostile to bacteria, yet cariogenic bacteria will thrive in this environment. Researchers discovered that the more calcium that cariogenic bacteria dissolve, the greater their calcium tolerance and survival capability in the biofilm becomes. (Basel, 2017)
After repeated attacks by the acids created by cariogenic bacteria, the enamel of the tooth loses minerals that compromise the integrity of the tooth itself. As the enamel is destroyed, cavities form. These cavities lead to tooth pain and sensitivity to sweets and hot and cold. The cavities in the tooth can further become infected with bacteria leading to abscesses. This whole process is broken down into 5 stages of tooth decay that happen the longer you avoid that appointment with your local dentist in Azusa.
Your Dentist in Azusa Can Help Prevent These Five Stages of Tooth Decay
Your teeth are covered by hard, yet thin outer layers called enamel. Enamel is composed of a mineral called calcium phosphate, which is arranged in a crystal structure known as hydroxyapatite. Enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body and is translucent, meaning you can see through it. The white of your tooth is from the main portion of the tooth called the dentin. Enamel is responsible for protecting your tooth while chewing, biting, and grinding. The enamel is also responsible for protecting your teeth from extreme temperatures and chemicals as well.
Demineralization occurs when the mineral content of your enamel and tooth begins to wear away. It happens when the acids created by the bacteria are so persistent that the elemental structure of your enamel begins to degrade. Demineralization is the first sign of tooth decay as the plaque builds up in your mouth. This may affect the tooth’s color, and appearance, and wears down on the tooth’s smooth surface.
2. Enamel Decay
The second stage of tooth decay occurs when you allow the demineralization to continue unchecked. What isn’t common dental knowledge is the role saliva plays in your dental health. Your saliva is produced by your salivary glands, which distribute saliva through the mouth. These glands produce as much as a half-gallon of saliva every day, although the production does fluctuate by the time of day. The salivary glands produce the least amount of saliva during the night, which is good, so you don’t drown in your own spit every night. Your saliva is mostly composed of water, with a little bit of mucus, enzymes, proteins, and salts.
Your saliva constantly neutralizes the acids in your mouth which protects your teeth. However, if you are consuming more acids than your saliva can neutralize and you have a consistent buildup of plaque, the demineralization of your tooth enamel degrades to a point where the enamel itself begins to decay. Over time the decay in the enamel causes large pits called cavities.
3. Dentin Decay
The third stage of tooth decay happens when cavities caused by stage two are left untreated and unfilled. The decay has eaten completely through the enamel of the tooth and has begun to affect the tissue under the enamel called the dentin. 45% of dentin consists of the mineral hydroxyapatite, 33% is an organic material, and 22% is water. (Nanci, 2013)
At this point in the progression of tooth decay, you will begin to experience extreme sensitivity to hot and cold foods as well as sugary drinks and food. The dentin is much softer than the enamel and tooth decay that has progressed to dentin decay will begin to speed up, and the bacterial plaque will eat through the dentin much faster than it did through the enamel.
4. Pulp Damage
The pulp is the center of the tooth that is located under the dentin. The tooth pulp is the most vital part of the tooth and houses the living blood vessels, connective tissue, and large nerves. The pulp of the tooth branches out and continues down each tooth through the canals and stops just short of the apex, or tip of the tooth. Your tooth pulp is responsible for sensory function, the formation of the dentin as well as the formation of secondary and reparative dentin in the case of trauma, as well as keeping the blood flowing in your tooth so it is nourished and moisturized.
Once tooth decay has spread to the pulp, your tooth may begin to swell which will cause pressure because the housing of the tooth cannot expand along with the affected pulp. At this stage of tooth decay, you will be experiencing a great deal of pain due to this pressure. After enough damage to the pulp has been caused, you will experience pulp death also known as pulp necrosis.
5. Abscess Formation
One of the most serious cases of tooth decay we see at our Azusa location is when it has progressed to the formation of abscesses in the mouth and gums. An abscess happens when bacteria has infected the pulp of the tooth and a pocket of pus has formed and cannot drain. Symptoms of abscesses include a tremendous amount of consistent pain, a foul taste in the mouth, fever, and difficulty opening the mouth and swallowing.
There are three types of dental abscesses. A gingival abscess is only in the gum tissue and does not affect the tooth or the periodontal ligament. A Periodontal abscess starts in the supporting bone tissue structures of the teeth. And finally, a Periapical abscess commences in the soft pulp of the tooth. If left untreated these abscesses can spread to other parts of your face and jaw causing serious medical conditions.
Treatments for Each Stage of Tooth Decay
Your dentists in Azusa have a number of tools in their toolbelts to help treat tooth decay. The best treatment for the first stage of tooth decay; demineralization, is to avoid drinks that have high sugar and acid content. Soda is the main offender in this list. If you reduce the number of acids that occur in your mouth, you allow your saliva to do its job in neutralizing the acids that occur through your diet which will reduce the demineralization of the enamel. In some cases, your diet can also cause demineralization but more often than not it will be what you are drinking that is the culprit.
The best and most often used remineralization treatment you will find at any dentist in Azusa, or any dental office is the use of fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that created the building blocks of your teeth called fluorapatite which makes your teeth more resistant to mineral loss. Research has shown that the repeated application of fluoride improves the hardness of teeth and tooth tissues on both enamel and dentin. (Sivapriya, 2017)
Dental Crowns & Dental Fillings
The general term for any kind of tooth decay that has affected both the enamel and dentin of the tooth is “cavity.” Cavities are treated the same regardless of if they have progressed to the dentin of the tooth or not. The two most common treatments are dental fillings and dental crowns. To get a dental filling a dentist will use a drill to remove the decayed section of the tooth and then fill the drilled-out hole with dental material. The materials used in fillings range from composite resin, porcelain, gold, or silver amalgam. Fillings are a simple yet effective solution to most cavities and last around five or more years.
Dental Crowns are used when cavities have progressed to a point where the structural integrity of the tooth has been affected. Crowns are also common when teeth have suffered some kind of trauma and have become cracked and broken. The dentist will first remove the damaged tooth and place a crown in its stead. A dental crown is made in a lab and lasts around 5 to 15 years.
Root Canal Therapy
If you avoided making that appointment with your local dentist in Azusa and are suffering from a cavity that has made its way to the pulp of your tooth, chances are the entire tooth is infected. The most common treatment for this situation is a root canal or endodontic treatment. To perform a root canal a dentist drills out all of the infected tooth and tooth pulp. Next, your dentist goes down through the root of the tooth. Finally, they’ll fill it with the same dental material used in fillings.
Oral Surgery Options
If you’re suffering from a dental abscess, you are in need of immediate dental care. If your abscess ruptures and doesn’t drain properly, the infection can spread to your jaw, head, and neck. This will increase the chance that you develop a life-threatening infection called sepsis. Treatment for dental abscesses includes surgically opening the abscess to allow drainage. Oral surgery might also include root canals, pulling the abscessed tooth, and antibiotics. Frequently, treatment includes two or more of these options.
How Your Azusa Dentist Prevents Tooth Decay
Here at City Dental Centers, our Azusa location is staffed with dentists who are experts in preventing tooth decay from even starting. As you can see, if tooth decay is left to its own devices, the severity of treatments increases with each stage. Also, the more advanced the tooth decay, the worse the pain from the symptoms becomes.
If you take the necessary steps to avoid tooth decay from setting in, then you can avoid a great deal of pain and discomfort in the long run. Our City Dental Center dentists in Azusa have compiled a list of steps you can take, so that tooth decay can’t even begin.
Tips From Your Friendly Dentist in Azusa, City Dental Centers:
- Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste both before & after eating. While brushing your teeth with fluoride before and after each and every meal may be difficult, it is the best way to stop the very first stage of tooth decay, demineralization. If you cannot brush that many times, make sure you brush with fluoride at the very least twice per day. To clean between your teeth, use floss or an interdental cleaner.
- Use fluoride rinses like mouthwash. Using fluoride rinses after using fluoride toothpaste doubles up on your fight against demineralization.
- Visit your local City Dental Centers for regular teeth cleanings and oral exams. Regular visits to your dentist in Azusa allow them to spot any tooth decay and take steps to treat it in the office.
- Take a look at dental sealants. A dental sealant is a plastic coating applied to the back of your teeth. The coating protects the chewing surface and seals off the grooves and crannies that are known to collect food that can turn into plaque. The CDC recommends sealants for children due to the difficulty parents have with keeping up with their child’s dental health and regular brushing. However, sealants work great for adults as well.
- Avoid snacking and eat tooth-healthy foods. If you are only eating three times per day you are limiting the amount of food that will build up on your teeth. Also, avoid high-acid and sugary drinks like soda. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables will increase the saliva flow and unsweetened coffee, tea, and sugar-free gum will help wash away food particles.
- Get regular fluoride treatments at your dentist’s office. There are also custom fluoride trays that you can have made that fit over your teeth for fluoride applications. A professional dentist in Azusa like City Dental Centers will have their own dental lab at their disposal to do this quickly and efficiently.
- Ask your dentist about antibacterial treatments and special mouth rinses designed to combat bacteria in your mouth.
City Dental is the Best Dentist in Azusa for Tooth Decay
Regardless of your stage of tooth decay, our City Dental Center Azusa location is the best place for you. Our dentists and staff are experts in tooth decay and tooth decay treatments. All of our City Dental Centers are full-service dental offices. We offer general and family dentistry as well as all cosmetic dentistry services. Our offices provide oral surgery as well as restorative dentistry services so that you can wage the war on tooth decay with the best dentists in Azusa California.
City Dental Centers also has its own, in-house dental laboratory. This allows our dentists to get the highest quality dental appliances made for our patients quickly. If you visit another dentist in Azusa, you could wait weeks. After all, a third-party dental lab often makes your dental appliances. Then, if you need your device adjusted, there go another few weeks. Not here!
Your Convenient Dentist in Azusa and Beyond
Doctor Sam Shahovesi and the team at City Dental Centers are here to provide our patients with the best dental services and dental surgeries for children and adults of all ages. From toddlers to seniors, City Dental Centers offers six convenient dentist offices in Southern California. We even have a dedicated children’s dentist office, City Dental Kids & Braces.
Whether you need checkups, x-rays, braces, bonding, teeth whitening, sealants, oral cancer screenings, root canals, crowns, bridges, implants, or tooth extraction, City Dental Centers is here to make the process as easy and comfortable as possible. Looking for a quality dentist that won’t break the bank? Give your local City Dental Center a try today.
Contact The Nearest Dentist to You
Ready to experience the best dentists in Los Angeles? Choose one of the convenient dental offices we have surrounding LA. We have dental practices in Azusa, Corona, Lake Forest, Montclair, Pico Rivera, and West Covina. You can call our main line at (888) 624-8933 or reach out to an office directly with the information below. Alternatively, you can visit our new patients & first visits page for more info. We’re so happy you’ve chosen City Dental Centers. We can’t wait to help you along your dental journey and brighten your beautiful smile!
- Basel, U. o. (2017). How caries-causing bacteria can survive in dental plaque. Retrieved from ScienceDaily.
- Nanci, E. (2013). Ten Cate’s Oral Histology.
- Selwitz, R. H. (2007). Dental caries. The Lancet.
- Sivapriya, E. (2017). Remineralization ability of sodium fluoride on the microhardness of enamel, dentin, and dentinoenamel junction: An in vitro study. Journal of Conservative Dentistry.