Dental Cavity

How Do I Know If I have Infections in My Tooth?

There are signs and symptoms associated with dental infections, which can be caused by tooth cavity or a broken tooth.

Signs are something apparent by observation and they can include:

–  The presence of darkened area on the tooth

–  The presence of breakage within the tooth

–  The gum area has a swollen pustule which may have pus coming out.

–  Tooth mobility

–  Swollen lymph node around the lower jaw.

Symptoms are sensual abnormalities and they can incude:

–  Pain on chewing

–  Pain on touching the tooth

–  Increased sensitivity to cold and the sensation last for more than 10 seconds

–  Spontaneous dental pain and often described as throbbing.

–  Pain waking you up at night

If you have any of the above signs and symptoms, please contact our dental office for evaluation.  We can take complete radiographs and thorough examinations to determine if you really have dental infections.


Written by Daniel Tee, DDS, MS

Family Dental Office in Tempe AZ

Serving the city of Tempe, Chandler, Phoenix, Gilbert, and Mesa in Arizona. Practicing General Dentist

Please Don’t Wait to See Your Dentist.

Today I have a patient coming in for a broken tooth.  He has biten into a piece of chicken and part of the tooth cracked off.  He said as soon as this happen, he felt a sharp pain and this is what brought him to see the dentist today.

Upon examination, the tooth has a big defect.  I ask him about the history of the tooth and he said he noticed a small piece of the tooth came off three years ago.  He said he went to the dentist at that time and the dentist gave him some antibiotics and painkiller for emergency measures but he never returns for followup treatment because he didn’t have any major discomfort and he said he just let it slipped off his mind.

The tooth exhibits the sign and symptoms of crack tooth syndrome and it might need some extensive work.  I sincerely felt sorry for the guy because if he had fixed the small problem three years ago, the tooth might not develop this severe crack.  The small defect in the tooth might cause food impaction and bacteria can cause cavity to further weaken the tooth.  As the result of three years of non-treatment, the tooth has become cavitated from within and it only takes a small piece of soft chicken meat to cause the crumbling of the tooth structure.

The tooth is now needing a core buildup and a crown to prevent it from breakage.


Written by Daniel Tee, DDS, MS

Genral Dental Office in Tempe AZ — White Tooth-Colored Fillings, Porcelain Crowns, Veneers, Inlays, Onlays

Serving the city of Tempe, Chandler, Phoenix, Gilbert, and Mesa in Arizona. Practicing General Dentist

Fluoride Rinse Helps Prevent Cavities

<<  Topic in General Dentist Dentistry Dental Office in Tempe AZ >>

Fluoride is a chemical ingredient common in toothpaste that has a special properties of strengthening the enamel of teeth.  In turn, this helps to prevent the cavity formation.  Often for patient who are more susceptible to cavity formation, I would recommend fluoride rinse to patients.  I would instruct the patient to use the rinse in addition to their dental hygiene routine.  Typically I instruct them to rinse with fluoride rinse after brushing their teeth and flossing.  Rinsing wth fluoride rinse for 30 seconds help the fluoride to distribute onto the surfaces of teeth.  After rinsing with fluoride rinse, I would tell patient to spit it out and do not rinse with water or drink water for at least half hour.  This allow the fluoride on the tooth to penetrate into the enamel.

However, over-ingestions of fluoride for children during their teeth development may cause fluorosis to their teeth.  So make sure that children do not swallow too much of those rinses or fluoride toothpaste.

Fluoride rinse can be purchased over-the-counter in drug stores.  One brand is ACT fluoride rinse manufactured by Johnson & Johnson.


Written by Daniel Tee, DDS, MS

Dental Office in Tempe AZ

Serving the city of Tempe, Chandler, Phoenix, Gilbert, and Mesa in Arizona. Practicing General Dentist

Tooth Cavity Disease Progression and Stages of Demineralization

Today I am going to talk about how a tooth develops cavity, from its early stage of enamel demineralization to full blown tooth cavity.

The tooth develops cavity because the bacteria in the mouth digests the food debris on the tooth surface and these bacteria would release some acidic byproduct as part of this digestion process.  These acidic byproduct would damage the enamel and slowly leach out the calcium within the enamel.  This is the first stage of tooth cavity disease process and is called enamel demineralization.

Acid erosion is a commonly cause for enamel demineralization.  (See Acid Erosion in this dental blog.)

When the enamel is demineralized, the tooth surface would appear chalky white.

Cosmetic Dentistry, enamel demineralization remedies, dental treatment

The right canine tooth (second to the left tooth on the photo) has chalky white spot on its surface.

Luckily the tooth at this stage can still be healed naturally.  The treatment would consist of avoiding food and beverages high in acidic content, improve oral hygiene and also most importantly is to receive fluoride treatment at the detnal office.  The fluoride treatment is to apply fluoride gel or varnish on the tooth.  Fluoride helps to strengthen the tooth and would help initiate remineralization process.  Remineralization is the reverse of demineralization.  Fluoride helps the calcium to rebuild the weakened enamel.

However, if the demineralization process get worse, the soften patch of enamel may become cavitated.   The middle tooth in the above photo illustrates how a cavity looks like.  This cavitation is a non-reversible process.  It would require dental intervention.  At this stage, the tooth needs to be fixed with the composite filling material by the dentist.  The dentist would have to clean out any decay or non-reversibly weakened tooth structure.  Then dentist would go through the steps in completing the filling.

A cosmetic veneer can also be used to mask out the large area of filled tooth structure.  Or if the defect is large, a crown is needed to restore the tooth.


Written by Daniel Tee, DDS, MS

Practicing Cosmetic Dentist Serving the city of Tempe, Chandler, Phoenix, Gilbert, and Mesa in Arizona.

Xerostomia (Dry Mouth) Can Cause Tooth Cavity

Xerostomia (Dry Mouth) occurs when there is not enough saliva in the mouth.  Saliva is important because it can help cleanse and lubricate the oral cavity.  It also contains antigen which helps fight bacteria and fungal infection.  If there is decreased salivary secretion, this will increase the chance of bacteria infection, periodontitis and tooth cavity.

Xerostomia can happen to anyone.  Most commonly it can happen to the elderly person.  Some medication can cause xerostomia.  In some cases, chemotherapy for cancer treatment can cause xerostomia.

The solution to xerostomia is to drink plenty of water.  It is recommended to drink at least equivalent of 8 cups of water.  Alternatively, doctor can prescribe a different medication which won’t cause xerostomia.  For severe cases of xerostomia, doctor can prescribe saliva analogs to alleviate the symptoms of xerostomia.

Acid Erosion

Many people know that drinking fruit juice and eating candy can cause tooth cavity.  However, forming tooth cavity is not the only way to damage a tooth.  Acid erosion can cause damage to the tooth enamel.  Today, we will talk about what acid erosion is.

Tooth Acidic Erosion, Demineralization of Tooth Enamel, Soda, Fruit Juice, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Phoenix, Gilbert, ArizonaAcid erosion occurs when we ingest food or beverage containing acidic ingredient.  For example, grape fruit juice, lemon juice, orange juice and soda are some beverages containing acidic contents.  If the tooth encounters repeated exposure to the acid in the fruit juices, those acid can erode the enamel of the tooth, thereby weakens the tooth structure making it susceptible to bacteria attack.  Weakened enamel may progress into tooth cavity.

Teenagers often develop these type of tooth cavity from acid erosion.  Drinking soda and acidic fruit juice affect their teeth.  Initially, the teeth will become sensitive to changes in temperature.  Slowly, the small pits will develop into tooth cavity.

My advice is to refrain from ingesting excessive acidic beverages and soda.  Optimal dental hygiene helps to cleanse out the acid and food debris.  Mouth rinse containing fluoride can help strengthen the teeth and minimize the negative effect of acid on tooth enamel.

However, if tooth cavity is formed, please come to see a dentist.  As an experienced cosmetic dentist, I would check and treat the cavity, and deliver a pleasing result.
Written by Daniel Tee, DDS, MS
Practicing Cosmetic Dentist Serving Tempe, Chandler, Phoenix, Mesa, and Gilbert Arizona

Dental Cavities– How Do Dentist Finds Dental Cavities?

We all know what cavities are.  Cavities can be simply defined as a hole on the surface of the tooth.  The cavities are tooth decay and they occurs when the bacteria in the dental plaque (or sticky food debris) on the tooth surface produces acids that melts away the tooth surface structure.  We know that if we eat candy or food high in sugar content, the bacteria on the tooth will grow and they will produce acid to damage the tooth surface and overtime, the cavities are formed.

But how do dentist find out if we have dental cavities?  At the dentist’s disposal, several tools will help detect the presence of cavities.  These tools are xray images, intraoral mirror, a dental instrument called the dental explorer, tooth decay detection dyes, etc.

Dental Examination, Dental Checkup, Dental Cavities, Dental Cavity, Dental Decay, Defective Filling, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Phoenix, Gilbert, Arizona

Dentist uses explorer instrument to check for cavity.

The most obvious tool is the intraoral mirror and dental explorer.  By visual examination, the healthy tooth surface is white and smooth.  If there is a darken spot is noticed, dentist will then use the tip of dental explorer to test the darken spot.  If the darken spot is sunken and the texture feels soft and as dentist tries to pull out the tip of the dental explorer, the dentist will feel there is a “catch”.  If the clinical examination shows the darken area on the surface of the tooth fulfills these criteria, then the dentist can say the area are dental cavities.


Dental Radiograph, Dental Xray, Dental Examination, Dental Checkup, Dental Cavities, Dental Cavity, Dental Decay, Defective Filling, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Phoenix, Gilbert, Arizona

Dental Xray image shows tooth cavity. The darkened area pointed by the arrow is the location of the tooth cavity.

In some area of the tooth, dental instrument cannot be reached into those area, for example, the side in-between the two teeth.   Then the dentist can use the xray image to detect any changes in densities in the tooth structure.  Around each tooth there is a outermost layer of enamel and is usually more dense in structure.  A dense area will show up as white area in xray image.  However, when there is a cavities within the surface of the tooth, the outermost layer will be compromised.  On the xray image, it will show up as what’s called the radiolucency area on the tooth.  This is how dentist detect the cavities with the xray.

Sometimes, dentist can use a tooth decay detection dye.  This is a special dye that will changes color when it touches an area with specific kind of bacteria or reacts to the acid released by the tooth-decay-causing bacteria.

In my office, I routinely use all these tools to help detect tooth cavities for my patients.  I will also use an intraoral camera to show pictures to my patients so that they can see exactly where the problem is.


Written by Daniel Tee, DDS, MS

If you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment, Please call 480-820-6131
Practicing Dentist Serving Tempe, Chandler, Phoenix, Mesa, and Gilbert Arizona