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What is difference between tooth decay and cavities?

What is the difference between Tooth decay and Cavity?

Is cavity and tooth decay the same? The answer is No. Tooth decay and cavity are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two different things.

Tooth decay is a progressive disease that causes the breakdown of the hard tissues of the teeth. It is caused by bacteria that live in the mouth and feed on sugars and starches. As the bacteria feed, they produce acids that attack the teeth. The acids can slowly dissolve the enamel, the hard outer layer of the teeth. If the decay is not stopped, it can eventually reach the dentin, the layer of tissue below the enamel. The dentin is softer than the enamel, and it is more susceptible to decay. If the decay reaches the dentin, it can cause pain and sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks. Tooth decay also causes smell.

Cavity is a hole in the tooth that is caused by tooth decay. It is a permanent loss of tooth structure that cannot be reversed. Cavities can be small or large, and they can affect any tooth in the mouth.

In other words, tooth decay is the process that leads to a cavity, and a cavity is the end result of tooth decay.

Almost 100% of adults and 60% to 90% of school children worldwide suffer from dental caries

Continue reading to learn more about tooth decay and cavities.

What is the difference between Tooth decay and Cavity?

Is tooth decay worse than a Cavity?

So, is tooth decay worse than a cavity? It depends on how you define “worse.” Tooth decay is a more serious problem in the long term, as it can lead to tooth loss. However, a cavity can cause more immediate pain and discomfort.

AspectTooth DecayCavity
DefinitionGradual breakdown of teeth due to bacterial acids.Physical hole formed due to advanced tooth decay.
CauseBacterial acids eroding enamel over time.Enamel breakdown leads to a void within the tooth.
ProgressionDevelops over time with acid attacks on enamel.Result of untreated tooth decay reaching advanced stage.
ReversibilityCan be halted and prevented with early care.Irreversible once enamel is compromised and cavity forms.
SymptomsEarly signs include sensitivity and discoloration.Visible holes, dark spots, discomfort while eating.
TreatmentFocuses on prevention, hygiene, and early care.Requires dental filling to restore tooth structure.
ImpactCan lead to cavity formation and more severe issues.Represents a physical structural change in the tooth.
PreventionGood oral hygiene and moderate sugar intake.Regular oral care, limiting sugary foods, and hygiene.
OutcomeProgression can result in cavities and tooth loss.Permanent alteration in tooth’s structure and function.
RoleInitiates the process that can lead to cavities.A visible and tangible result of advanced tooth decay.
Differences between tooth decay and cavities

Causes of tooth decay and cavities

  • Bacteria: Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that live in the mouth. These bacteria feed on sugars and starches from food and drinks. As the bacteria feed, they produce acids that attack the teeth. The acids can slowly dissolve the enamel, the hard outer layer of the teeth. If the decay is not stopped, it can eventually reach the dentin, the layer of tissue below the enamel. The dentin is softer than the enamel, and it is more susceptible to decay. If the decay reaches the dentin, it can cause pain and sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks.
  • Sugars and starches: Sugars and starches are the food source for the bacteria that cause tooth decay. The more sugary and starchy foods and drinks you eat, the more likely you are to get cavities. This is because the bacteria produce more acids when they feed on sugars and starches.
  • Poor oral hygiene: Poor oral hygiene can also contribute to tooth decay. When you don’t brush your teeth regularly, plaque builds up on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria. If plaque is not removed, it can eventually harden into tartar. Tartar can trap more bacteria and make it difficult to clean your teeth properly.

Other factors: 

Other factors that can contribute to tooth decay include:

  • Dry mouth: Dry mouth can make it difficult to remove plaque and bacteria from the teeth.
  • Frequent use of sugary drinks: Sugary drinks can coat the teeth with sugar, which can then be fermented by bacteria.
  • Certain medications: Some medications can dry out the mouth, which can make it more difficult to prevent tooth decay.
  • Some medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, can make you more susceptible to tooth decay.

Early signs of tooth decay

  • White spots on the teeth: These are the earliest signs of tooth decay. They are caused by the acids produced by bacteria that feed on sugars and starches.
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks: This is another early sign of tooth decay. It is caused by the acids eroding the enamel, which exposes the dentin. The dentin is softer than the enamel and is more sensitive to temperature changes.
  • Loose fillings or crowns: If you have a filling or crown that is loose, it could be a sign of tooth decay underneath.
  • Gum recession: Gum recession can expose the roots of your teeth, which makes them more susceptible to decay.

Signs of cavity:

  • A dark spot on the tooth: This is a more advanced sign of tooth decay. It is caused by the acids eroding the enamel and dentin, which exposes the pulp. The pulp is the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels.
  • Pain: If you have a cavity, you may experience pain when you eat or drink something hot or cold. You may also feel pain when you bite down on something hard.
  • Swelling or tenderness around the tooth: This is a sign of infection. If you have a cavity that is not treated, it can lead to an infection in the tooth.
  • A bad taste in your mouth: This is another sign of infection. If you have a cavity that is not treated, it can cause a bad taste in your mouth.

Advanced Signs of tooth decay and cavity:

Here are some advanced signs of tooth decay and cavity:

  • A hole in the tooth: This is a clear sign that you have a cavity. The hole can be small or large, and it can be black, brown, or even gray.
  • Pain that is constant or severe: If you have a cavity that is not treated, the pain can become constant and severe. You may also feel pain when you eat or drink anything, even cold water.
  • Swelling or redness around the tooth: This is a sign of infection. If you have a cavity that is not treated, it can lead to an infection in the tooth. The infection can spread to the gums and other tissues in the mouth.
  • Fever: If you have a severe infection, you may develop a fever. This is a sign that you need to see a doctor right away.
  • Loose teeth: If the decay has progressed to the point where it has weakened the tooth structure, the tooth may become loose. This is a serious problem that can lead to tooth loss if it is not treated.

If you experience any of these advanced signs, it is important to see your dentist right away. Tooth decay is a serious problem that can lead to tooth loss if it is not treated.

Now let’s explore major difference between a cavity and Tooth decay!


Cavity:

what is difference between tooth decay and cavities?
Dental Cavities

A cavity is a hole in the tooth that is caused by tooth decay.

How Tooth Decay Leads to Cavities

Tooth decay is a progressive disease that causes the breakdown of the hard tissues of the teeth.

It’s cause is bacteria that live in the mouth and feed on sugars and starches. As the bacteria feed, they produce acids that attack the teeth.

These acids can slowly dissolve the enamel, the hard outer layer of the teeth. If you don’t stop the decay, it can eventually reach the dentin, the layer of tissue below the enamel.

The dentin is softer than the enamel, and it is more susceptible to decay. If the decay reaches the dentin, it can cause pain and sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks.

How it forms:

Cavities form when bacteria in the mouth produce acids that attack the enamel, the hard outer layer of the tooth. Bacteria produce these acids when they break down sugars and starches from food and drinks.

The more sugary and starchy foods and drinks you eat, the more likely you are to get cavities. This is because the bacteria produce more acids when they feed on sugars and starches.

Types of cavities:

There are three main types of cavities:

  • Smooth surface cavities: These are the most common type of cavity. They form on the smooth surfaces of the teeth, such as the chewing surfaces and the biting edges.
  • Pit and fissure cavities: These cavities form in the pits and fissures of the teeth. Pits and fissures are small indentations on the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • Root cavities: These cavities form on the roots of the teeth. They are more common in adults, as the gums recede and expose the roots of the teeth.

Treatment options:

Cavities are usually treated with a filling. A filling is a material that is used to fill the hole in the tooth. Fillings can be made of different materials, such as gold, silver, or composite resin.

In addition to fillings, there are other treatment options for cavities, such as:

  • Root canal therapy: This procedure is used to treat cavities that have reached the pulp of the tooth. The pulp is the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels. If a cavity reaches the pulp, it can cause an infection. Root canal therapy involves removing the infected pulp and filling the tooth with a material that will prevent decay from spreading.
  • Tooth extraction: This procedure is used to remove teeth that are severely decayed or damaged. Tooth extraction is usually only done as a last resort, as it can lead to tooth loss.

Tooth Decay:

What is difference between cavity and tooth decay?
Tooth Decay

Decay is the progressive breakdown of the hard tissues of the teeth. It is caused by bacteria that live in the mouth and feed on sugars and starches.

As the bacteria feed, they produce acids that attack the teeth. These acids can slowly dissolve the enamel, the hard outer layer of the teeth. If the decay is not stopped, it can eventually reach the dentin, the layer of tissue below the enamel.

The dentin is softer than the enamel, and it is more susceptible to decay. If the decay reaches the dentin, it can cause pain and sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks.

How it differs from a cavity:

Decay is a more general term that refers to the entire process of tooth decay, from the early stages of plaque formation to the formation of cavities and more serious problems. A cavity is a specific type of decay that is characterized by a hole in the tooth.

Stages of decay:

Decay progresses through four stages:

  1. Initial stage: Plaque forms on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria. If plaque is not removed, it can eventually harden into tartar. Tartar can trap more bacteria and make it difficult to clean your teeth properly.
  2. Early stage: The plaque produces acids that attack the enamel. These acids can slowly dissolve the enamel, the hard outer layer of the teeth.
  3. Moderate stage: The enamel starts to break down.
  4. Advanced stage: The decay reaches the dentin, the layer of tissue below the enamel.

Complications:

If decay is not treated, it can lead to more serious problems, such as:

  • Infection: The decay can cause an infection in the tooth. The infection can spread to the gums and other tissues in the mouth.
  • Tooth loss: If the decay is not treated, the tooth may eventually need to be extracted.
  • Gum disease: The decay can also lead to gum disease, which can damage the gums and bone that support the teeth.

Prevention:

Can tooth decay be reversed? Here are some tips that will help you!

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Flossing once a day.
  • Seeing your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
  • Limiting your intake of sugary foods and drinks.
  • Drinking fluoridated water.
  • Quitting smoking.

By following these tips, you can help to keep your teeth healthy and cavity-free.

Conclusion:

Cavities and tooth decay are two different things, but they are closely related. Tooth decay is the process that leads to a cavity, and a cavity is a hole in the tooth that is caused by tooth decay. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that live in the mouth and feed on sugars and starches.

If you practice good oral hygiene, such as brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day, you can help to prevent tooth decay and cavities.

If you have any concerns about tooth decay or cavities, it is important to see your dentist for a checkup.

Zara
Zara

I am Zara, a driven and passionate blogger with a deep love for writing and a strong desire to connect with my readers. I am always on the lookout for the latest trends and news in fashion, beauty, entertainment and daily life tips. I love to share my knowledge with others. I am always looking for new ways to learn and grow, and I am committed to providing my readers with the most accurate and up-to-date information.
Join me on this journey of knowledge and exploration!

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