Q: What causes tooth decay?

A: Tooth decay, which is also known as dental caries or cavities, is an infectious disease that causes the structure of your teeth to break down. If you don’t treat it, it can cause infection, pain and tooth loss.

There are four things required for tooth decay to take place: a vulnerable tooth, the bacteria responsible for cavities (primarily Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus,) fermentable carbohydrates (such as lactose, glucose and sucrose) and time.

If you have poor oral hygiene, chronic dry mouth or a history of high sugar consumption, you have an increased risk for caries. There are also some genetic risk factors that make your teeth more susceptible to decay, such as Amelogenesis imperfecta.

The best way to prevent tooth decay is to see your dentist every 6 months at least and follow proper oral hygiene.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees patients in the Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

Q: My baby has a painful, dark bump on his gums. What is it?

A: It’s most likely an eruption cyst, also known as an eruption hematoma. An eruption cyst is a swelling over a primary or permanent tooth that is coming out. It contains fluid that collected around the erupting tooth, and it may be pale, blue or purple-colored due to some blood in the fluid.

Parents are often most concerned about the dark cysts, but eruption cysts usually aren’t anything to worry about. Once the tooth erupts the cyst will go away, so typically there’s no need for treatment. If the cyst remains for more than two weeks or the child is in a lot of pain, you should definitely see your dentist.


Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees adults and children in Culver City and serves the greater Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

Q: I’ve been brushing and I haven’t changed my diet, but lately I’ve had bad breath. What could be causing it?

A: Bad breath (also known as halitosis) can have many potential causes. Frequent causes include tooth decay, gum disease, plaque and calculus build up, using tobacco products and eating odor-causing foods like garlic or onions. Other possible causes include respiratory infections and long-term dry mouth. There are more serious medical conditions, like diabetes, that can cause bad breath, and some medications can also cause it.

If you’re having problems with bad breath, it’s important to see a dentist and get checked out so you can find out what’s causing it and get it treated.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees patients in the Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

Q: I’ve heard that chewing gum can actually be good for teeth. What kind should I chew?

A: Chewing gum is beneficial for your teeth, as long as you’re chewing the right kind. Sugary gum obviously isn’t good for your teeth, but sugarless chewing gum helps prevent tooth decay. Your mouth will produce more saliva when you chew sugarless gum, and that helps to break down the acids in your mouth while it also strengthens your tooth enamel. We suggest chewing some gum after a meal, so your increased saliva flow will help loosen any particles of food from your teeth.


Be sure to look for brands of gum that are recommended by the American Dental Association. You should also check for the ingredient xylitol, since it helps to reduce plaque.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees patients in the Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

Q: What are canker sores?

A: Cankers sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, are sores in the mouth. They are yellow or white and they’re usually surrounded by a vivid red area. While they aren’t dangerous and usually don’t last for very long, they can sometimes be quite painful.

The cause of a canker sore can’t always be determined. It can be brought on by stressful times in your life, deficiencies in your diet (especially a lack of sufficient iron, folic acid, or vitamin B-12), hormone fluctuations, menstrual periods, food allergies and viral infections.

Canker sores can show up on any loose, soft non-keratinized skin tissues of the mouth. These places are the tonsils, the floor of your mouth, the insides of your lips and cheeks, under your tongue or on the tip and on your soft palate.

People sometimes confuse canker sores and oral cancer. Canker sores are not related to cancer, but there are some kinds of cancer that first appear as a mouth ulcer that does not heal. Canker sores also shouldn’t be confused with herpes, which usually appear on the outside of the mouth. If you are concerned about any sore in your mouth, you should visit a dentist or physician for an exam.

Dr. Natalie Khadavi sees patients in the Los Angeles area. Visit our website or give us a call at (310) 482-3971 for more information about how we can provide you and your family with healthy smiles that last a lifetime.

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