Tooth Decay Vs. Cavities


Your smile is one of the most important aspects of your health. Keeping the teeth healthy and helping to prevent tooth decay and other oral health problems can help keep your overall health in good shape as well. One of the common concerns that dental patients will suffer from are cavities and you may need the help of orthodontic services to help get them taken care of.

Many dental cavities will need specialized orthodontic services to help take care of them. And there is the potential for other issues with tooth decay that may not be a cavity at all and require you to have an orthodontic dentist to help. But what is the difference between tooth decay and a cavity and how should patients work on both of these?

What is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is going to happen when some of the germs left in the mouth are allowed to produce a type of acid that slowly eats away at the tooth. This will happen over time with improper dental care. Whenever we eat, it is possible for a clear substance known as plaque will get stuck to the teeth. The plaque will be a bacteria that loves to feed on all the sugars on your teeth.

The problem is that the bacteria is going to produce an acid while they are there, and this acid is going to work away at the tooth. This will happen slowly but you may notice some of the symptoms of tooth decay such as a toothache, bad breath, and some small black spots on the teeth.

The best way to treat the tooth decay is to catch it early before it is able to spread and cause a lot of issues. An orthodontic dentist will be able to do a whole exam over your teeth to check for the plaque and help you safely remove it too. The dentist will be able to apply fluoride in the form of a varnish or a gel to help the teeth get the protection that you need and can stop the bacteria from progression.

What is a Cavity?

To many patients, a cavity and tooth decay are the same thing. However, a cavity is a type of tooth decay, but not all tooth decay is going to be a cavity. A cavity is simply a black hole that shows up in the middle of the tooth. This is a big sign that the bacteria that is found in the plaque has already eaten through more than one layer of the tooth. The closer the cavity, or the hole, gets to the pulp, the more pain it can cause. The tooth may also be sensitive to hot and cold.

When dealing with a cavity, the orthodontic experts will remove the parts of the tooth that are decaying. Then they will work to fill the rest of the hole to make it full again. If there is not much left in the tooth once the dentist has removed the decay, then they may recommend that the patient gets a crown put in place.

What is the Difference Between Tooth Decay and a Cavity?

With those definitions in mind, it is normal to wonder what the differences are between a cavity and tooth decay. Tooth decay is going to be the primary stage of the cavity. It is easier to use intervention to clear it up and protect the tooth with early detection with a dentist. The dentist will be able to clear away some of the plaque on the tooth and then the fluoride coating can help make the tooth stronger.

The cavity is going to be through the tooth and can wear down the tooth enough that it is going to hurt. A tooth that is completely damaged thanks to cavities will rot and you may need the dentist to pull it out and put in a fake tooth instead. It is always better to fix the tooth as soon as possible and good prevention methods will help here as well.

Comparing Tooth Decay to a Cavity

Tooth decay and a cavity may seem to cause similar damage to the tooth, but they will have slightly different issues. Tooth decay is also easier to fix with routine dental visits too, while a cavity will often require more work to fix.

For tooth decay, we are looking at one of the first stages of a cavity. It is recognizable with a bit of pain in the tooth and some white spots on the teeth. A dentist will be able to treat the tooth decay with a bit of varnish or a gel that has fluoride in it. This provides some additional strength to the teeth to keep them as healthy as possible.

A cavity is going to take a bit more work to take care of and is often the result of the patient not taking care of the tooth decay. Cavities are going to be a continuation of the process that first happened with tooth decay. It is recognizable thanks to the pain and some small black holes that happen in the teeth. To cure this option, the rotten tooth needs to be cleared away and the dentist may need to add a crown or a filling to that area to keep the tooth strong.

Taking Care of Your Teeth

The best way to avoid issues with your teeth is to visit an orthodontic dentist and have routine dental checkups. This will help you to catch some of the tooth decay and can prevent the issue from turning into a cavity and needing more work. Your dentist will take a look at the teeth two times a year to catch any problems and can help keep the teeth clean while working with a fluoride treatment to make the teeth stronger. Do not wait until the condition gets worse or you feel pain in the teeth. Find the right dentist to help clean those teeth and prevent tooth decay.