Cavity

Synonyms: Cavities, Dental cavities

Medical Specialties: Dentistry


Clinical Definition

A cavity is the progressive demineralization of the structure of the tooth, causing a hollow space. Acid from dental plaque damages the tooth and leads to destruction of the tissue. A cavity starts by invading the enamel, but can progress into deeper structures including the dentin and cementum. 


In Our Own Words

A cavity is a hollow space in the structure of the tooth, due to decay. Bacteria present in the mouth can lead to plaque, which sticks to the teeth. Plaque bacteria produce acid, which can damage the tooth and lead to a loss of minerals, ultimately forming a dissolved area, a cavity.

 

A cavity starts by invading the enamel, but can progress into deeper structures of the tooth. Cavities may not cause symptoms at first, but can become large and affect the nerves, which causes a toothache. Left untreated, cavities can lead to tooth loss and serious infections.

Relevant Conditions
  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
Side Effects
  • Hole in the tooth may not produce symptoms at first
  • Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Toothache
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sources
  • University of Rochester Medical Center. "Tooth Decay (Caries and Cavities in Children)." http://www.urmc.rochester.edu. Accessed November 2013.
  • American Dental Association. "Tooth Decay." http://www.mouthhealthy.org. Accessed November 2013.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. "Dental Cavities." http://umm.edu. Accessed November 2013.
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