Are you looking for the difference between dental caries and dental cavities? We got you covered in this post.
Often people need clarification about whether dental caries and cavities are the same words or if they mean different things.
But dental caries, cavities, and tooth decay are all the same thing, and people often use the wrong words. They have something in common, but they are not the same thing.
Each term refers to a different stage of a tooth getting rotten from bacteria. Caries can lead to cavities if they are not treated quickly.
What are Dental Caries?
Dental caries is the scientific name for tooth decay, which is what most people call it. It is a disease caused by bacteria that have begun the process of decay on or in a tooth. This can happen from the outside or the inside.
The process is said to have started when the bacteria in your mouth start to feed on the sugar in the food you eat. Bacteria make acids, which start to break down healthy teeth by taking away the minerals they have.
If your teeth’ mineral content starts to go down, you might see white spots or patches on them. These are spots on the tooth where the enamel has thinned and become more porous.
At this point, decay has already started to set in. The good news is that damage can often be fixed backwards if it is found early enough.
Tooth decay happens when the tooth’s structure has already been broken down. The advancement hurts the tooth’s enamel and shows the dentin, which is the mineral between the pulp of the tooth and the enamel. Once decay starts, it will continue until a filling or another dental restoration stops it.
What dental cavities?
Dentists usually use the word “cavity” to talk about tooth decay, also known as “caries.” A more precise definition of a cavity is a hole that has formed in the tooth because of decay.
A chipped tooth or a cracked filling could cause a cavity to form. Caries are the same as having a hole in your tooth, called a cavity. If you have dental caries and they keep getting worse, or if a cavity goes deep into a tooth and gets close to the pulp, you may have a toothache. Both of these things can lead to tooth decay.
After some time, the pulp will die, and this could lead to an abscess. If this happens, the affected tooth may need either root canal treatment or removal.
Difference between dental caries and dental cavities
People often use the terms dental caries and dental cavities interchangeably. For example, if you have tooth decay or a cavity, you might need a tooth filling. But the truth is that cavities and tooth decay are two completely different problems.
Decay is a tooth disease that gets worse over time. It happens when the tooth’s enamel is broken and exposed to harmful bacteria in the mouth.
A cavity is a hole that forms in a tooth as decay spreads through the structure of the tooth. Cavities are quite common.
The good news is that you can keep your teeth from getting cavities and other types of tooth decay by taking good care of your teeth and gums and going to the dentist regularly for preventive care.
The acids in plaque can also wear away the next layer of the tooth, which is called dentin. This could lead to the development of a root cavity, which can expose your nerves and make it painful to drink or eat.
If you have pain near the bottom of your tooth, you likely have some tooth decay. Make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible to check out this problem.
The good news is tooth decay can be stopped, and its effects can be undone if caught and treated early enough. You must catch the problem early and take good care of your teeth at home if you don’t want cavities to form.
Dental Caries (or Tooth Decay) Ultimately Develop into Cavities
Caries happens when bacteria make acidic waste products and continue to wear away at tooth enamel. In the end, this makes the cavities get closer to the dentin, which is the tooth’s innermost layer.
Because tooth enamel is the hardest thing in the body, the acid has only been able to get through it very slowly up until now.
Bacterial acid, on the other hand, is very corrosive. Eventually, it will get through the tiny holes in the enamel and reach the dentin, which is the tooth’s innermost layer. When that happens, bad things start getting worse.
When the strong enamel coating that protects the dentin has been broken or worn away, the dentin is exposed and can be infected by bacteria and acid byproducts.
Because dentin is more flexible and has less calcium than enamel, this is the case. The acid that bacteria make is a good way to break down dentin and speed up the process.
When this happens, it happens so quickly that it causes cavitation in the inner tooth. This keeps growing until a cave-like space is made.
How Tooth Decay Leads to Cavities
Your teeth are made in a way that lets them protect themselves effectively and efficiently. Your body’s enamel, which protects your teeth, is the hardest and most durable thing it can make.
Even though enamel is mostly made of minerals, it is still vulnerable to erosion, mostly caused by the acids plaque and tartar bacteria make.
Oral bacteria can get into the dentin of a tooth if organic acids have weakened the enamel. A tooth’s main part is called dentin.
As the infection or decay spreads through the tooth, its structure wears away. This leaves a hole in the tooth that keeps getting bigger over time.
What to Do About Decay and Cavities
Once decay reaches your tooth’s dentin, you can’t stop it from worsening. However, your dentist can treat the decay to stop it from getting worse and causing more damage.
If you have a hole in your tooth, the best thing to do right now is to get it filled. The filling is meant to replace the tooth structure that decay has taken away. It is made of a tooth-coloured composite resin that matches the colour of your tooth’s dentin.
Even though cavities and tooth decay go together, you can do something to stop them. If you know how to stop and treat tooth decay, you can avoid dealing with the pain and cost of cavities in the future.
Make an appointment with your dentist to find out if you have any signs of tooth decay and what treatments are available to you before you have a cavity filled.
Instead of waiting for things to get worse, treating signs of decay and cavities as soon as possible is always best. The problem will be okay if you do this.