Tooth cavities Vs Gum Diseases: Toothaches with a difference

Are all the diseases of the mouth same? Is toothache the only symptom you can have in mouth? Are all the diseases in the mouth related to the teeth?

Well! The answer to all the above questions is NO

The mouth has numerous structures, including lots of muscles, vessels and nerves that interact with the rest of the face and body.

Widely different in function and composition; the mouth consists of numerous intricate structures that closely interact with each other structurally and functionally.

Thus, despite the causative factor of a gum disease being very different from a tooth cavity, gum diseases can lead to infection in the tooth. Likewise, the infection in the tooth caused due to tooth cavity can spread to the gums, bone and surrounding muscles.

Why is it important for you to understand the difference?

Complete treatment involves resolution of the cause of the condition AND the maintenance so that the condition does to recur.

Since the MAINTENANCE of the health after the treatment would be done by you, it is important to understand what caused it so that you do not repeat the mistakes you made earlier that lead to the condition.

Gum diseases

Gum diseases involve the entire apparatus of soft tissue that surround the tooth and hold the tooth in the jaws.

The most common cause is the deposition of bacterial colonies at the junction of the tooth and the gums. Theses colonies start depositing a few hours after brushing. If these colonies are not disrupted by brushing twice a day they get hardened.

These hardened colonies are what form tartar and consist of millions of bacteria. The bacteria in the tartar causes the gums to swell and bleed.

Tartar cannot be removed by normal brushing and can only be removed by a professional.


Factors leading to gum diseases

·        Improper brushing technique

·        Inadequate oral hygiene

·        Stress resulting in the involuntary grinding of teeth

·        Improper positioning of the teeth

·        Smoking

·        Breathing though the mouth

Symptoms of gum disease

·        Bleeding gums: This is the first symptom

·        Loosening of teeth

·        The gums and the bone recede resulting the tooth being exposed

·        Sensitivity

·        Bad breath

·        Swelling and redness in the gums

·        Pain in the gums

·        Food getting stuck between the teeth

Tooth cavities

Tooth cavities are caused by bacterial acids eating away the tooth. The bacteria get stuck on the microscopically small cervices in the teeth. They then release acids that dissolve the calcium minerals that are present in the outer layer of the teeth. This mixture of the toxins of the bacteria with the demineralized tooth gives the cavity its black colour.

The bacteria slowly make their way inside the tooth to reach the innermost layer of the tooth known as pulp that consists of blood vessels and nerve tissue. With its progression inside the tooth, the symptoms gradually increase from mild sensitivity to severe pain and an inability to open the mouth when the infection spreads to the face or neck.

Factors leading to tooth cavities

·        Having too many sticky sweets

·        Having sweets very frequently

·        Consuming acidic beverages like cola excessively

·        Brushing immediately after meals

·        Not brushing adequately

Symptoms of tooth cavities (as they progress inside the tooth)

·        Black/ brown black discolouration of the tooth

·        Mild sensitivity on consuming something cold

·        Food getting stuck between teeth

·        Sensitivity to hot and cold

·        Toothache on eating (that goes off once you stop)

·        Consistent toothache

·        Swelling around a single tooth

·        Bad/metallic taste in the mouth

·        Inability to chew due to excessive pain

·        Loosening of the tooth

·        Spread of the infection to the face or neck

Despite the difference in the symptoms, there is some overlap. At times a gum disease can lead to tooth infection and tooth infection can lead to gum diseases.

Although, a proper treatment would involve understanding what started the condition and the treatment should be determined accordingly.

For the treatment to be successful it is important that a detailed evaluation is undertaken before it is started.

Treating the symptom rather than the cause eventually leads to treatment failure

Thus, despite always presenting as pain in the tooth/tooth region, evaluation is important before any treatment is undertaken for the success of the treatment.

Spread the smile