Tooth decay and cavities are two common conditions that are sometimes confused with one another. While they share some of the same symptoms and risk factors, you’ll want to ensure you know the difference between these two dental concerns. Keep reading as we learn more about tooth decay vs. cavity and how you can prevent these conditions in the future.
What is tooth decay?
Firstly, let’s start by discovering what tooth decay is. When looking at tooth decay vs. a cavity, we aren’t referring to the same thing. However, tooth decay can lead to cavities in the long run. Tooth decay usually starts off as plaque, which is a film that builds up on your teeth. The bacteria within plaque creates acid, which can start to destroy the surface of your tooth. Decay is something that is preventable and reversible, and the more you can do to avoid decay in the first place, the less likely you’ll have a cavity in the future.
What is a cavity?
Moving on from tooth decay, you’ll find that a cavity is when the tooth starts to decay so much that it creates a hole within your enamel. This is when you get a cavity, and at that point, it means you have more serious tooth decay. When comparing tooth decay to a cavity, a cavity is a permanent area of damage within your teeth. These little openings or holes may need to be filled by your dentist, which is something any child or parent wants to avoid for as long as possible.
Symptoms of Tooth Decay and Cavities
When discussing tooth decay and cavities, you’ll find there are certain symptoms to look out for. Toothache is a common sign that something is wrong in your mouth, which might appear for no apparent reason. Tooth sensitivity also suggests something is wrong, and you might feel mild or sharp pain when eating and drinking. While these might not be so obvious to the untrained eye, visible holes or pits in the teeth clearly indicate the start of a cavity. If your child experiences one or many of these symptoms, you need to get them in as soon as possible with our team, who will review their teeth and find the right solution for their issues.
Causes of Tooth Decay and Cavities
Bacteria in our mouths like to feed on sugary and starchy foods and drinks, such as soda and candy. By avoiding these types of foods, you can protect your teeth for as long as possible. When you do eat these types of foods, it’s critical to make sure you are following a proper brushing and flossing routine. This will help to remove any plaque, which would otherwise lead to tooth decay and cavities.
Risk Factors for Cavities and Tooth Decay
All of us are at risk of tooth decay and cavities. However, you’ll find that certain factors increase the chances of this occurring. The tooth location will play a huge part in the chance of decay, as well as the brushing and flossing routine you follow. Younger and older individuals are more likely to experience cavities, but your diet will have the biggest impact on the chance of cavities. Make sure you get your child to brush their teeth twice a day and floss once a day to avoid tooth decay from a young age.
Treatment Options for Tooth Decay and Cavities
The severity of tooth decay will impact the treatment that your child needs. When tooth decay or a cavity is just starting off, a fluoride treatment might be used to restore the enamel. This can sometimes reverse the cavity if it’s not too late. Otherwise, the next stage is to have a filling. In extreme cases, root canal treatment and a crown will be needed, but this is something we will work to avoid for as long as possible with your child.
Prevention Tips for Tooth Decay
Your child’s brushing routine will play a big part in stopping cavities from developing. If you notice them skipping brushing or flossing, encourage them to keep up their good habits. From there, keep an eye on the number of sugary drinks and snacks they are consuming. Finally, we recommend that your child come to see our team for regular check-ups. We’ll keep a watch on any teeth with potential signs of decay and offer immediate treatment to stop them from developing into a cavity.
Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy with the Help of AC Pediatric Dentistry
Going to the dentist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!