Dental Problems

Dental problems can occur at any time. From an irritating tooth ache to a knocked out tooth; our dental staff has experience handling a wide variety of dental issues. Castro Valley Dentistry is prepared for any emergency and offers the services needed to get your dental health back on track. Our staff is on hand to answer any questions you may have about your oral health. With proper care from our dentists, you will leave our office with a smile that is restored and free of pain.

Take a look through some of the topics below to learn more about a variety of dental problems and how they should be handled.

Bad Breath

If you happen to have bad oral habits, it is likely that you have bad breath. If you don’t brush, floss, or see your dentist on a regular basis, you put yourself at risk of developing bad breath. Bad breath can also develop when food remains in your mouth or between your teeth even after you have brushed your teeth. This is because the small bits of food start to rot and smell.

These can also cause bad breath:

Tongue – the tongue collects bacteria that can cause bad breath.
Medical Conditions – Some medical conditions have been found to cause bad breath, such as kidney failure or diabetes.
Food – Certain foods including onions, garlic, cheeses and dairy are known to cause bad breath. When you eat any foods that with strong smells the digestive process will release strong gases that are also unpleasant.
Large dose of Vitamins – If you have consumed a large amount of vitamins on an empty stomach, it can cause a stomach ache, as well as bad breath.
Dry Mouth – When you suffer from dry mouth, there is a decrease in saliva production which in turn can cause bad breath.

Cavities – Since a cavity is the result of tooth decay it is not uncommon for the decay to produce an odor.
Dental Abscess – If a cavity is left untreated, a dental abscess can begin to form around it. The pocket will grow pus which contains bacteria which can cause bad breath.
Gingivitis (gum disease) – Gingivitis not only leads to tooth loss, but is also a main cause for bleeding gums and bad breath.

The best way to avoid bad breath is making sure to brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and use mouth wash at bedtime. Our dental team cannot stress proper oral hygiene enough!


Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums are a sign that you may have gum disease. It can also be a result of: a vitamin deficiency, brushing your teeth too hard, bleeding or clotting disorders, hormonal changes during pregnancy that result in gingivitis, taking blood thinners or other medications, dentures that don’t fit your mouth properly, mouth sores, and other medical problems; such as heart disease, diabetes, leukemia or scurvy.

Should you continuously notice your gums are bleeding, it is important that you make an appointment at Castro Valley Dentistry to see one of our dentists who can determine the cause and offer treatment to help stop the bleeding. By seeking treatment at the first sign of bleeding you can help reverse the early stages of gingivitis and prevent periodontal disease from getting much worse.


Broken Tooth

Before you go see a dentist about a broken tooth, remember to follow these self-care tips:

  • Save any broken teeth pieces. If it a clean break, your dentist may be able to cement the broken piece back together as a temporary fix Put the broken tooth fragment or knocked out tooth in a container with a small amount of milk or saline.
  • Rinse the broken teeth fragments with warm water. If your tooth has been completely knocked out, hold it by the top and rinse it off gently with water. DO NOT touch the root of the tooth or try to scrape the roots to remove any dirt.
  • If the area in your mouth is bleeding, rinse out your mouth with water. Then place a small piece of gauze or tissue in the socket and bite down. A cold compress can also help decrease any swelling and pain.
  • Call our office as soon as possible at 510-582-7122. If you have knocked out an entire tooth, there is only a 30-minute window of time in which is can be effectively reattached. After 24 hours, chances unfortunately decrease significantly.

When it comes to dental treatment for a broken tooth, it really depends on the severity of the break. In most cases a dental crown is needed to restore the tooth. In very severe breaks, where there has been damage to the tooth’s nerve, a root canal is necessary to remove the damaged nerve and blood vessels.



Bruxism is when you involuntarily grind your teeth. The most common type of bruxism is while the patient sleeps. Since you grind your teeth at night, you might not even know it is happening until complications arise. You watch out for warning signs, including:

  • Grinding your teeth loud enough you wake your sleeping partner
  • Increase in tooth sensitivity
  • A Sore or painful jaw
  • Constant headaches, earaches, and facial pain
  • Your teeth have become worn down, flat, or chipped

There are a variety of options to help treat bruxism. Most common is the use of a bruxism mouth guard or night guard that has been specially designed to fit your mouth. If grinding your teeth has led to a problem with your bite, you may need to see an orthodontist who can help correct your bite. Dental braces may be necessary to help straighten your teeth.



If you are experiencing a toothache, it could be an indicator that you have a dental cavity. The only way to treat a cavity is to visit a dentist. Our dentists will repair a cavity by removing the decay from the tooth and replacing it with a filling.

There are several dental materials available that can repair a cavity, including:

Amalgam – This durable material is easy to use and is highly resistant to wear.

Composite – This material is a tooth-colored mixture of glass and quartz in a resin medium. These fillings are less noticeable than amalgam but not as durable.
Glass Lumineers – This is a translucent, tooth-colored material made up of acrylic acids and a fine glass powder.
Porcelain – This ceramic material mimics a tooth’s natural color and is quite durable and almost invisible to the naked eye.

Some tips to keep in mind for your oral health:

  • Brush twice a day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Floss every day
  • Use supplemental fluoride (if your dentist approves doing so)
  • Ask your dentist about getting dental sealants

By eating a healthy diet, keeping up with your scheduled dental cleanings, and following the above suggestions, you will greatly reduce your chance of getting a cavity.



CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, a device that helps keep your wind tunnel from collapsing while you sleep. This machine works by increasing air pressure in your throat to help keep your airway through the night. CPAP is the most common, yet effective, non-surgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea conditions. It is also used to treat central sleep apnea and sleep apnea in children.

Wearing a CPAP mask at night may at first seem overwhelming, but it is often necessary to treat your sleep apnea condition and establish a normal sleep pattern. By doing so, you will decrease your daytime sleepiness, become more alert, and increase your concentration and memory. CPAP treatment also can help decrease the chance of heart failure for those who suffer from coronary artery disease. Continuous treatment with the CPAP machine has been shown to lower blood pressure and decrease anxiety and depression.

In order to have a sleep apnea machine, you need it to be prescribed to you. A sleep study is generally needed to determine whether or not you have sleep apnea, and if so which type of treatment is best for you. The machine itself is lightweight (around 5 lbs.) and is small enough to fit on a bedside table. Standard CPAP machines include a mask, tube, and machine. The machine delivers a steady stream of pressurized air into the mask via the tube. The pressure that flows through can be adjusted according to the patient’s need.

It is also important to note that a CPAP machine will only help correct sleep apnea, but it does NOT cure it. The CPAP mask needs to be worn every night for the entire length of the sleep cycle in order to stay effective. Your insurance may cover part or all of the cost. Please check with your insurance provider first before purchasing a CPAP machine.



A posterior crossbite is when your upper teeth fall inside your lower teeth on one side when you bite down, while an anterior crossbite is when your top front teeth fall behind your lower front teeth when you bite down. Crossbites can happen for a variety of reasons, including if both of your parents have a crossbite, your chance of inheriting it is high. Another cause if your jaw size; if your upper jaw is smaller than your lower jaw, or your jaws are mismatched in size, you might develop a crossbite over time.

If left untreated, a crossbite can cause a variety of dental issues including TMJ or TMD, loose teeth, receding gums, excessive wear of tooth enamel, and asymmetrical growth of your face and jaw. The only way to determine if your crossbite needs treatment is to see an orthodontist who can recommend proper dental treatment. Treatment options include a dental “expander” which is widened during the first 1 to 2 months of use to gently expand the jaw. It is generally worn for an additional 3 months to help the jaw to harden in its new place. Dental bridges are sometimes used with an expander or are placed after the expander is removed.


Dental Abscess

A dental abscess is the worsening of a dental cavity on the inside of the tooth pulp chamber. This area is made up of the “meat” of your tooth. The abscess can also form as the result of trauma to the tooth, though the most common reason is a dental cavity. When a tooth has a dental cavity, it becomes subjective to bacteria and germs. If not removed and filled in a timely fashion by a dentist, a pocket of pus can develop. Since the infection is growing on the inside of the tooth, the pus has no where to drain and the dental abscess grows.

Be aware of warning signs:

  • Toothache
  • Red swollen gums
  • Throbbing/gnawing pain
  • Swelling in the jaw or face
  • Foul taste in mouth
  • Bad breath

Our goal is to remove the infected pulp and any tooth decay before the situation gets any worse. If the infection has reached a point where the tooth cannot be saved, a tooth extraction may be necessary. With a tooth extraction you may need a dental implant or dental bridge so your remaining teeth do not shift in your mouth. For more information, call our office today!


Dental Calculus

Dental calculus, also known as dental tartar, is a hardened deposit of dental plaque found on teeth and is caused by the buildup of dental plaque which forms after you eat or drink. Sugars and carbohydrates in food are the cause of bacteria in your mouth that produce an acid that attacks your teeth. You might not see any dental plaque, but you can feel it. It forms a pasty film that leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and also cause a range of dental problems. Our dentists and dental hygienists have the necessary tools to remove dental calculus during your routine cleanings. Here are some great tips that can help you avoid the build up of dental calculus:

Eat less sugary snacks – healthy eating will help minimize the build up of dental plaque.

Get a checkup – a routine dental cleaning and exam will help to remove dental calculus and prepare your mouth for proper dental care at home. You should see your dentist twice a year for a dental cleaning!
Practice excellent oral hygiene – You should be brushing twice a day, and flossing your teeth at least once a day. If possible, brush your teeth after every meal to stop dental plaque from forming.



A gap between two teeth is known as a diastema. Many celebrities are known for their midline diastema, or space between their two upper front teeth. Diastemas are very common, especially with children. A diastema is a natural part of a child’s development and usually will correct itself over time. Should a diastema remain after the eruption of adult teeth, it will be become permanent. Diastemas generally do not cause any complications, but some people choose to get their diastema closed for cosmetic purposes.

We have a variety of diastema treatments available:

  • Dental Braces
  • Removable Dental Braces
  • Cosmetic Dentistry
  • Missing Tooth Replacement


Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is when a patient’s mouth has a reduced flow of saliva and leads to difficulty swallowing, speaking, sore throat, hoarseness, frequent thirst, oral yeast infections, and dried nasal passages. Dry mouth can be a result of certain medical conditions, including anemia, diabetes, dehydration, smoking, chewing tobacco, or even nerve damage due to injuries to the head/neck. It is also a common side effect of certain prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. When taking any medication, make sure to read the label to see if dry mouth is a side effect.

Our dental team can recommend a variety of great strategies to help increase your saliva flow. One option is using an artificial saliva solution, such as Biotene or Oasis.

You also might be advised to try the following:

  • Sucking on sugar-free candy to help stimulate saliva
  • Increase your daily fluid intake
  • Buy a vaporizer to increase the moisture in the air
  • Attempt to breathe through your nose as much as you can
  • Use an alcohol-free oral rinse


Fear of Needles

Many people become anxious at the thought of a needle being placed in their mouth. If you become nauseous or dizzy or being to sweat or have an increased heart rate when it comes to needles, it might be a sign that you have a needle phobia.

Knowing the cause of your needle fear will make it easier for our team to address it and provide options to help you ease your nerves and get the dental care you need. Castro Valley Dentistry is proud to offer sedation dentistry services that help to put nervous patients at ease. We also suggest that parents bring their child’s favorite toy as a distraction for any children that are scared when at the dentist.


Impacted Teeth

An impacted tooth is when a tooth does not fully erupt or come out of the gums. The most common teeth to become impacted are a person’s wisdom teeth since they are the last to develop. They start to form when a person is about 9-years-old but don’t emerge through the gums until the late teens or even early twenties.

The best person to tell you if you have an impacted tooth is your dentist. Dental x-rays may need to be taken to confirm the presence of an impacted tooth. But before you ever make it in for an appointment with your dentist, your mouth may experience symptoms letting you know something is wrong.

These symptoms may include:

  • Pain or tenderness of the gums which might also be accompanied by swelling & redness
  • Space in the gums where your tooth did not come out
  • Bad breath and an unpleasant taste when biting down or near the affected area
  • Difficulty opening your mouth

There are times the impacted tooth may sit under the gums in peace and not cause any dental trouble. But usually, the only solution is a tooth extraction where your dentist removes the tooth completely.


Knocked Out Tooth

If you ever experience a knocked out tooth, it is important to know exactly what to do. If the tooth is knocked completely out of its socket, there is a chance that your dentist can re-implant it into your mouth. By following these steps, you will have a greater chance of saving your tooth:

  • Hold your tooth by the crown, and if it is dirty, gently rinse the root of the tooth. Don’t ever remove any attached tissue fragments or touch the root. If you do you risk damaging the ligament.
  • If you are able to, put the tooth in its socket and hold it there by lightly bite down on gauze or a moistened tea bag to help keep it in place. If you’re unable to replace the tooth into your mouth, put it in milk, warm salt water, your own saliva, or between your gum and cheek.

Call your dentist right away and provide them with as many details as you can about your knocked out tooth. Most dentists have set aside time in their daily schedule for dental emergencies. If you’re unable to get to your dentist immediately, head to the nearest emergency room with your tooth. There is only a 30 minute time frame in which reimplementation is most successful.


Missing Teeth

If you are missing teeth, allowing your mouth to have gaps can cause physical problems and even affect your speaking. It can also cause your other teeth to shift, bone loss, tooth decay, and premature aging since a lack of structure forces the skin to sag.

Luckily there are a variety of options available to replace any missing teeth you may have and fill the voids. Options include:

Full Dentures – These are best in the case where all teeth have been extracted. Full dentures are placed on a plastic base that fit over the patient’s gums. The dentures are then readjusted to cope with any changes in the gums or bone structure.

Partial Dentures – These are a great way of replacing one or more missing teeth. One or several crowns are attached to a metal frame, which is then clasped onto your neighboring teeth for support. Also referred to as a flipper, a partial denture is removable.

Dental Bridges – A dental bridge uses a series of dental crowns to replace one or more teeth in a row. But unlike partial dentures, bridges are permanent and cannot be removed. The crowns are cemented onto the surrounding teeth to keep the bridge in place.

Dental Implants – Dental implants are the most stable of all the options. They are surgically placed into the patient’s jaw bone. After the implant heals, a dental crown can be attached to the top of the implant, securing the fake tooth and keeping it from moving around. Implants can also be used to help anchor dentures into place. Your dentist will determine if you are a good candidate for dental implants.


Mouth Cancer

Mouth cancer has long been associated with tobacco and alcohol use. Research has also found that drinking alcohol and smoking cigars or cigarettes can irritate the mouth’s mucus lining. This in turn facilitates oral squamous cell carcinoma growth.

Cancer of the mouth is also being detected in people who have never used tobacco products and only drink alcohol on occasion. Researchers have found that exposure to fungus and viruses is responsible for this increase in cases. Specifically, the human papilloma virus, or HPV16, has been identified as a big source of mouth cancer cases not involving tobacco or alcohol.

Being overexposed to ultraviolet radiation (ex. Sunlight) can also cause lip or mouth cancer. Poor oral hygiene and loose dentures can also cause oral cancer. Researchers have found a possible link between cancer of the mouth and nutrition. People who do not eat enough fruits and vegetables are more likely to develop mouth cancer symptoms.

Here are some warning signs to be aware of for mouth cancer:

  • Unexplained numbness of your face, mouth, or neck
  • White or reddish patch on the inside of your mouth
  • A lump or thickening of the skin on the inside lining of your mouth
  • Feeling as though something is caught in your throat
  • A sudden change to the fit of your dentures
  • Persistent sore throat or hoarseness
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Abnormal taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Unexplained bleeding from the mouth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Loose teeth and ear pain


Receding Gums

Receding gums happen when the gums and bones in the mouth start to move away from the teeth. Gums do this naturally with age, which is why some patients think there is no way to stop receding gums from happening. The truth is gums can recede for a variety of reasons, including overaggressive brushing, inadequate brushing and flossing, gum disease, and tooth grinding.

If left untreated, receding gums can expose tooth roots, which can be quite painful and cause sensitivity to both hot and cold food and drinks. Exposed roots can also develop tooth decay which can then lead to tooth loss and gum disease.

Thankfully there are ways to prevent receding gums. You can start by reducing plaque buildup by practicing good oral hygiene and making sure to brush twice a day and floss at least once a day. Make sure to brush right, with a soft-bristled toothbrush and use mild-to-moderate pressure which brushing in a small circular motion. Also, consider a night guard to help avoid grinding or teeth clenching while you sleep. If you’re interested in a night guard, ask for it from your dentist at your next dental cleaning!


Sensitive Teeth

Teeth have many layers, there is an ultra-hard outer shell called the enamel and then beneath that there is a layer of porous material called dentin that surrounds your inner nerve. Your tooth enamel protects the dentin from extreme temperatures and irritants. Your gums serve the same purpose for the dentin inside the tooth roots.

Tooth sensitivity happens the enamel or dentin are compromised. It could become compromised by tooth decay or gum disease. If this happens then heat, cold, or pressure can cause the tooth to feel pain. Other causes include: a damaged tooth filling, aggressive brushing, a cracked tooth, a broken tooth, teeth grinding, and the build-up of dental plaque on the root surfaces.

To keep tooth sensitivity from happening, you need to keep your gums from receding. Some simple steps to take include:

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Consider using an electric toothbrush so all you need to do is move it around your mouth
  • Be extra gentle when brushing around your gum line
  • Don’t eat too many highly acidic food in a day as they can erode tooth enamel
  • Wear a night guard if you happen to grind your teeth while you sleep



Are you keeping your partner awake at night due to your loud snoring? Snoring is caused by the vibration of the soft palate and uvula, which happens when someone is sleeping and their airway becomes obstructed. There are many ways an airway can become obstructed, including: drinking alcohol before bedtime as it makes the throat muscles especially relaxed, allergies, bulky throat tissue, being overweight, and even large tonsils.

Chronic snoring has been linked to sleep apnea, which disrupts your sleeping pattern and causes high blood pressure. Sleep apnea can also increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Our dental team at Castro Valley Dentistry will be able to suggest snoring treatments and help you sleep easier. Some medical options for dental treatments include: nasal strips, CPAP, oral surgery, and oral appliances.


Trench Mouth

Trench mouth is a painful type of gingivitis that is identifiable by bleeding gums, bad breath, and open sores in the mouth. It is generally caused when you can no longer control the bacteria in your mouth. Overgrowth of bacteria leads to an infection that destroys your gum tissue, which causes several dental problems if not properly treated.

People with bad oral hygiene, unhealthy diets, a lot of stress or excessive smoking habits are at risk of developing trench mouth. It is easy to prevent trench mouth by brushing and flossing regularly, and visiting your dentist twice a year for routine cleanings.

Trench mouth is curable and once diagnosed your dentist can prescribe antibiotics to help kill the infection, as well as provide gum disease treatment to help heal your gums. Your treatment might begin with a cleaning to remove any debris from your oral cavity, then a deep cleaning is needed to remove bacteria, dental plaque, and dental tartar from below your gum line.

In very severe cases, gum surgery may be needed to repair damaged gum tissue. After your surgery home care will be very important for a fast recovery. Pain relievers may be taken to help make brushing and flossing easier and will help trench mouth from returning.


Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the upper and lower third molars, or the teeth that are in the very back of your mouth. If a patient’s mouth is not big enough to fit all of the wisdom teeth, they can become impacted. In this case, the impacted teeth can grow sideways, emerge only part way from the gum or remain trapped entirely beneath the gum and jaw bone.

Each of these issues can cause further problems, including:

  • Gum infections
  • Pressure pain
  • Cysts
  • Tooth decay

Wisdom teeth are usually extracted by a dentist or an oral surgeon while the patient is under local anesthesia. If the surgical procedure is more difficult, as it is with impacted wisdom teeth, your dentist may suggest additional methods such as oral sedation.