Tooth Decay and Cavity: What Are Their Differences?

dentist examining teeth xray

Tooth decay and cavity are two common terms that almost everyone is familiar with when it comes to oral health. People know that these are dental problems that should be avoided. But do you understand the exact difference between the two? This article will define these two terminologies and tell you their differences.

What Is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is also known as dental caries. It is a harmful dental condition that can lead to tooth loss. It is caused by the acid attack done by the bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. This bacteria lives in your mouth, producing acids that decay the surface of the tooth enamel.

The acid also creates holes in the tooth. When the holes become large enough, an infection can occur in the tooth. That is the beginning of a very dangerous condition called dental caries. In addition, the bacteria can also enter your bloodstream and cause the formation of an abscess that can be hard to treat.

What Is a Cavity?

Cavities are holes created on the tooth due to prolonged tooth decay. The teeth have a hard outer layer called enamel. When the tooth is exposed to sugar and plaque, bacteria will produce acid that will break down this layer. In this stage, the tooth is still healthy since the enamel layer is still there. But when the bacteria create large holes in the tooth, the tooth will become more and more susceptible to decay.

Tooth decay can result in cavities, but a cavity is not the only thing that can come from tooth decay. Tooth decay can lead to infection, pain, or discoloration of the tooth and teeth. Besides that, tooth decay can increase the risk of bloodstream infection, tooth loosening, and bad breath.

The cavities that result from tooth decay can be painful, and the worst thing that can happen is infection and tooth loss. The tooth will lose its natural form and color. If you are not careful when it comes to oral health, you can lose many teeth.

These are the differences between tooth decay and cavities. The former is a condition caused by bacteria, and the latter is one of the effects of tooth decay.

Comparing Tooth Decay and Cavity


  • Bacteria cause both.
  • Both result in tooth damage.
  • Both are harmful conditions that can result in pain and tooth loss.


  • Cavities are caused by tooth decay.
  • Tooth decay can result in infection and bad breath.

How to Avoid Tooth Decay and Cavity

While you may not be able to avoid tooth decay and cavities, the good news is that you can take steps to prevent them. Here are the steps that you can do to avert tooth decay and cavities:

  • Keep your toothbrush clean.
  • Brush your teeth regularly, two to three times a day.
  • Visit a dentist, especially if you have a family history of tooth decay and cavities.
  • Take good care of your teeth.
  • If you have tooth decay or cavities, go for white fillings, and you can check our website for more information.


The difference between tooth decay and a cavity is quite clear. Tooth decay is a harmful condition, while cavity results from that damaging condition. Tooth decay and cavity are two common dental problems that you should avoid. To avoid them, you have to brush your teeth regularly. You have to visit a dentist regularly too.

Prevent tooth decay and bad breath by taking care of your dental health and regularly visiting your dentist in Maynard, MA. Sudbury Dental Arts provide general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and restorative dentistry services from our highly trained dental professionals to our patients. We give personalized and comprehensive dental care to the whole family. Book an appointment today.



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