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Long Beach Dental Information on Dental Cavities

Causes, Effects & Remedies for Cavities

Bayshore Dental, located in Long Beach, California is one of the premier dental offices in Southern California. Dr. Loren Rench Jr., D.D.S., and his staff specialize in family and pediatric dentistry, and will assist you and your family if you have cavities.


Dental cavities (caries) are holes in the two outer layers of a tooth--the enamel (the outermost white hard surface) and the dentin (the yellow layer just beneath enamel). Both layers protect the inner living tooth tissue called the pulp, where blood vessels and nerves reside. More than 90 percent of the population are affected by dental cavities. Though smaller cavities may not cause pain and can sometimes go unnoticed, larger cavities can collect food, causing the inner pulp of the affected tooth can become irritated by bacterial toxins and foods that are cold, hot, sour, or sweet which will definitely cause a toothache. Pain from larger cavities is the number one reason people visit their dentist.


We all have bacteria in our mouths, and the cavity-causing bacteria devour simple sugars and then change them into acid plaque. This kind of plaque is different from periodontal plaque that causes "Gum Disease". Acid plaque causes softening of the hard inorganic layers of the enamel and dentin. The softened layers are then dissolved by saliva, which leaves a hole (cavity) in the affected tooth. Unless the hole/cavity is filled, it will continue to erode causing damage the inner pulp of the tooth, which can lead to pulp death, infection and even tooth abscess. When pulp damage occurs, the tooth will have to be extracted or a root canal will have to be performed, removing the dying pulp and replacing it with an inert material.

Since the enamel on baby teeth are immature and porous, lacking the protective sheath of enamel on an adult tooth, children are more prone to cavities than adults.

All bacteria in our mouths does not cause cavities; some are harmless, but the cavity-causing bacteria are difficult to eradicate because they are very similar to the other harmless bacteria in our mouths. Some of the many cavity-causing bacteria include:

  • 1. Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria--this bacteria resides in the pits and fissures of our chewing teeth and can cause widespread tooth decay in young children ages 3-12, both in the baby teeth and the first permanent molars that erupt around age 6.

  • 2. Streptococcus bacteria--there are six species of streptococcus bacteria in our mouths which attack the smooth surfaces on the sides of our teeth. Since the sides are typically touching the adjacent teeth, cavities here are difficult to detect visually and usually are best detected by the use of x-rays.

  • 3. Odontomyces viscoses bacteria--these bacteria live on the back of the tongue and attack exposed cementum, which is the hard outer layer of the root (the bottom two thirds of tooth usually buried in dental bone). Older patients or those with gum disease may have exposed tooth root and cementum which makes their teeth vulnerable to attack by these bacteria.

We believe that a trip to the dentist's office doesn't have to be a bad experience, even if you have a cavity. At Bayshore Dental, patients in Long Beach, Bellflower, Signal Hill, Lakewood and Seal Beach trust Dr. Rench and his staff to keep their smiles looking beautiful and you can too. Call us at 562-494-3477 to schedule an appointment or to get more information.

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