Davis CA Family Dentist | Cavities in real life and in X-rays

In an X-ray, cavities are seen as dark areas in a tooth. Cavities start at the outside layer covering the tooth, called the Enamel, which has the lightest color in an X-ray. Cavities will then advance to the layer under enamel, called the Dentin, which is softer and has a darker color than enamel in an X-ray. Cavities should not be confused with the nerve in the center of the tooth that has the darkest color because it is consists completely of soft tissue. When X-rays are magnified on a screen and are looked at for more than just a couple of seconds, these dark areas in the enamel and dentin become more obvious. The change in the tone or the shades of gray in an x-ray corresponds to a change in the density of tooth structure, which we know is caused by tooth decay (cavities):

The cavities in this X-ray are outlined in yellow:

Cavities between teeth are rarely seen without X-rays unless they are very large or when teeth break. The following pictures are the same teeth in the X-rays above:

Once cavities are exposed, it is not surprising that they are always larger than they look in X-rays. This is because X-rays are a 2 dimensional representation of a 3 dimensional object; thus healthy tooth structure can superimpose over cavities. The brown areas are decay (cavity) in the dentin; dentin has a light yellow color when healthy:

After cavities are cleaned and all decay is removed, they are filled and sealed with tooth colored fillings:

The X-ray confirms well sealed and contoured fillings (fillings have the lightest color in an X-ray):

Our recommendation is that if dark areas in X-rays are in enamel only, they can be reversed and re-mineralized by brushing, flossing and using fluoride. Then a “watch and wait” approach is recommended. Whenever these dark areas extend beyond the enamel into dentin, they are considered irreversible and treatment is advised. If irreversible cavities are not treated promptly, cavities progress towards the nerve, infects the nerve causing pain, at which time these teeth end up needing root canal treatments and crowns, which are much more costly and time consuming.

This x-ray shows multiple cavities with different depth and proximity to the nerve. Cavities are the dark areas in teeth other than the dark nerve at the center of teeth. The furthest left tooth was already causing pain because the cavity has already reached the nerve. In the second copy of the same X-ray, the yellow lines outline the cavities, and the red lines outline the nerve:

All cavities were treated with fillings; but unfortunately, the tooth furthest to the left still needed a root canal treatment and crown:

Delaying the treatment of cavities when they are not reversible will lead to more tooth damage and pain requiring more invasive and costly treatment. Our goal is to provide our patients adequate information so they can make informed decisions about the care they prefer to receive.

We thank the patients who gave us the permission to utilize these images in this informational column.

Samer S. Alassaad, DDS

Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry
Davis, CA

Dentist in Davis, CA | Ow! Your Guide to Canker Sores

95616 Dentist

A canker sore can make eating, drinking, and talking difficult and even painful. Maintaining your oral health by brushing and flossing may also be difficult with a sore in your mouth, but keeping up with your daily oral hygiene routine is an important step in the healing process. We’ve put together a short guide to everything you need to know about canker sores.

What do they look like?

Canker sores are usually small, round reddish sores. You’ll find them on the soft tissues of your mouth, such as your tongue, the sides of your mouth, and at the base of your gums. Occasionally, a sore might have a yellow or white colored center.

What causes them?

Among the most common causes of canker sores are injuries. This can happen from biting your lip or cheek, an injury from sports, or even vigorous brushing. Certain people are sensitive to toothpastes containing sodium lauryl sulfate, leading to sores. Foods may also cause canker sores in certain people. Chocolate, eggs, nuts, and spicy foods have been known to cause the sores. At times, a diet that is deficient in vitamin B-12 or zinc is the culprit.

What can I do?

Your best defense is to keep your mouth healthy. This means keeping up with your twice-daily brushing and daily flossing. With a mouth sore, it may be tempting to avoid the area when brushing your teeth. This can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria. Aid the healing process by keeping your mouth clean and healthy. You may also try a mouthwash formulated for mouth sores. When in doubt, or if pain persists, talk to our team.

Brush thoroughly but gently around sores. Most canker sores heal within a week. If you find you are regularly getting sores, or they are taking longer than one week to heal, schedule a visit to our office. We will assess your oral health and provide you with our expert advice.

For more information about oral health or to schedule your next visit, please contact our office. We look forward to seeing you.

2067 Anderson Road
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 756-7400

Dentist in Davis, CA | How Pregnancy Affects your Oral Health

Davis Dentist

During pregnancy, it is essential that you don’t neglect your oral health. A fluctuation in hormones can cause drastic changes in your mouth. Oral health complications have been linked to increased risk in other significant overall health issues. Here are the most common oral health problems, how they can affect your pregnancy, and how to prevent them.

Oral Health Problems During Pregnancy

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, only 22 to 34 percent of women in the United States visit a dentist during pregnancy. Regular visits to our office while expecting can allow us to detect potential issues early. Gingivitis is the biggest concern during pregnancy. The buildup of plaque is more likely to cause an expecting mother to have red, swollen, and painful gums that bleed. If the gums become even more swollen and irritated, it can cause non-cancerous pregnancy tumors. If oral health problems are left untreated they can lead to serious diseases.

Ways to Prevent Gum Problems

The best way to decrease any risk of getting gingivitis is to brush your teeth at least twice a day. Make sure you brush the full tooth, all the way to the gums. Flossing your teeth regularly will also keep your gums healthy. Seeing your dentist more frequently for cleanings will reduce plaque and minimize any problems.

How Bad Oral Health Can Affect Your Baby

The Academy of General Dentistry suggests a link between gingivitis and having a preterm or low-birthweight baby. If an expecting mother has gingivitis, it can cause bacteria to enter in the bloodstream and travel to the uterus. The bacteria triggers chemicals that may induce early labor.

Maintaining good oral health is important in combating problems during pregnancy. Gingivitis is the most common concern that can be managed with the help of your dentist. Without proper treatment, gingivitis can lead to other health issues that not only affect you, but also your pregnancy. Keep yourself and your child safe by having a consultation with your dentist before or during your pregnancy. We also recommend that you bring your new baby to the dentist as soon as their first tooth grows in so they can get started on the path to a healthy life.

Contact our dental team today to schedule an appointment.

2067 Anderson Road
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 756-7400