This fungal infection, Armillaria Mellea, also known as mushroom root rot, honey fungus and shoestring fungus can cause foliage to become sparse and eventually kill the tree. The white or cream-colored fungus will grow between bark and wood of roots and up into the lower part of the tree trunk. It smells like your typical grocery store mushroom.
In spring or fall there may be mushrooms growing around the base of the infected tree. If the disease has not progressed too far, you can cut out infected tissue and expose the base of the tree and roots to air. Reduce watering especially close to trunk. No chemical treatment is known to be effective.
Plants Resistant or Susceptible to Armillaria mellea, The Oak Root Fungus by Robert D. Raabe contains more detailed information. The UC Master Gardener video Revealing Root Rot can help with detection of two common root pathogens and provide guidance on how to reduce the spread.