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Are Caries and Cavities the Same Thing?

Posted on 6/15/2024 by Doctor Krajekian
Row of five toy teeth, all smiling except for the middle tooth which frowns because of tooth decayYour tooth enamel is the hardest material in the body - and it has to be because you chew and grind your food daily. While your tooth enamel is tough, it is not breakable because acids in bacteria can eat away at it daily. When the acids make a hole in your tooth, it can cause tooth decay or dental caries, which can eventually lead to a cavity. Here is an explanation of tooth decay, dental caries, and cavities.

Anatomy of a Tooth

Your tooth has a thick layer of enamel to protect it from the chewing process. In addition, there is a layer of dentin underneath the tooth enamel to further protect the center of your tooth, which is called the tooth pulp. The tooth pulp is full of soft material that encases blood vessels, nerves, and your tooth root, which holds the tooth in your jaw.

Caries and Cavities

There are millions of bacteria in your mouth at any given time. The bacteria are there to help break down your food and aid the digestion process. However, if you are not practicing good oral hygiene, the bacteria in your mouth can multiply rapidly and begin to cause problems.

The acids that are the byproducts of bacteria can begin to eat a hole in your tooth enamel. At first, you have tooth decay or dental caries, which means that only your tooth enamel has been damaged. Most of the time, these microscopic holes in your enamel are impossible to see - at the beginning. However, if dental caries are left untreated - which means they are not treated and filled, the acids eat away at your tooth enamel until they reach the dentin. Dentin is softer than enamel, so the bacteria acid can infect the dentin more quickly. Once the dentin is infected with bacteria, you have a cavity.

The larger the cavity is, the more serious it is. Cavities need to be filled as soon as possible to save the tooth. Are you worried you might have dental caries or a cavity? We can help. Why not reach out to us today to schedule an appointment?
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