Difference Between Pyorrhea and Cavities

The lack of regular and adequate dental care makes teeth and gums prone to oral health problems such as cavities and pyorrhea. Some people may assume that these two oral health issues are similar. Is it so? Keep reading the article to learn more. 

What is Pyorrhea? 

Pyorrhea is another name for periodontitis, a severe gum infection that damages gums, bones, and ligaments. It causes abscess formation and discharge in the gums and roots of teeth. Swallowing pus while eating could put you at the risk of more infections. Delayed or no treatment of periodontitis may lead to tooth and jaw bone loss. 

What Causes Pyorrhea?

The culprit is the bacteria called pyorrhea alveolaris. In its initial stages, it is caused by porphyromonas gingivalis, a bacterial infection causing gingivitis. A thin layer of harmful bacteria builds upon our teeth, especially after eating or drinking something. It leads to plaque formation. Usually, brushing twice a day daily and flossing at least once helps minimize plaque on and in between teeth. However, neglecting oral healthcare results in the accumulation of plaque, which hardens into tartar. Also known as calculus, tartar releases acids that tear the tooth enamel away, damage teeth, and irritate the gums, eventually leading to pyorrhea. Several other reasons for pyorrhea include:

  • Hyperacidity and indigestion
  • Chronic gum inflammation
  • Chemical irritants

What are the Symptoms of Pyorrhea?

  • Swollen, tender, and red gums
  • Bad breath
  • Pain in gums while brushing or eating
  • Bleeding gums
  • New gaps between teeth
  • Gum recession
  • Pus discharge 
  • Loose teeth

Are there Different Types of Pyorrhea?

Yes, periodontal disease can be categorized into:

Chronic Periodontitis 

A common form of periodontal disease, it primarily affects adults. However, it may also affect children. Causes of chronic periodontitis are plaque build-up that can worsen to serious gum infection, damaging the tooth structure and causing tooth loss when left untreated.

Aggressive Periodontitis

Mainly affecting adolescents, aggressive periodontitis is a condition that is not common. But when it strikes, it usually involves multiple teeth, has a distinct pattern, and has a higher rate of progression. Therefore, timely treatment is essential to prevent teeth loss and jaw bone recession. 

Necrotizing Periodontitis

“Necrosis” refers to the death of cells in a body part because of an injury, disease, or restricted or lack of blood supply. In the case of necrotizing periodontitis, the absence of blood supply causes the death of the cells of ligaments, gum tissues, and supporting jaw bone. This severe pyorrhea commonly arises in the immunosuppressed or those suffering from malnutrition.

What is the Treatment for Pyorrhea?

Pyorrhea is treatable and reversible if the treatment is taken before it gets too late. The treatment involves tartar removal from the teeth and roots, deep cleaning of periodontal pockets, and antibiotics to contain the bacterial infection. In the advanced stages of periodontal disease, flap surgery may be needed to remove the rot and pus deposited underneath the gums. Bone grafting may also be required if there’s jaw bone loss.

Now, let us understand what dental cavities are?

Dental cavities, also known as caries, are hollow areas in teeth formed because of plaque and bacteria-induced acids. It is a common condition that affects children, adolescents, and adults alike. However, children and older adults are more susceptible to it. When not treated, cavities grow bigger and can affect the deeper layers of teeth. It leads to pain and sensitivity, among other symptoms. 

What Causes Dental Caries?

Intemperate consumption of sugar is the primary reason for cavities. When you eat or sip something sugary, harmful bacteria multiply in your mouth. It releases acid and adversely impacts teeth and gums, especially when there’s a lack of regular oral healthcare.  A few other causes of dental cavities are medicines and nutraceuticals that contain sugar, medications that cause dry mouth, consuming too much tea, coffee, or wine, old age, weakened enamel because of excessive brushing, and tooth grinding. 

What are the Symptoms of Dental Cavities?

The symptoms of a cavity will depend on where it is in your mouth and the size of the hollowed portion. Initially, you may not experience any symptoms. However, they start showing up and worsening as cavities get larger. Signs of dental caries are:

  • Tooth sensitivity, especially when you eat or drink something hot or cold
  • Intermittent or chronic tooth pain
  • Depression or pits in your teeth
  • Black, brown, purplish, or white tooth stains

How does the Dental Cavity Affect Teeth?

Tooth decay because of dental caries has five stages. 

  1. The appearance of white spots that are a sign of teeth damage. Demineralization occurs at this stage. 
  2. Enamel decay occurs at this stage, and a visible hole begins forming. This stage cannot be reversed but saving teeth is possible with timely treatment. 
  3. Decay reaches deeper into the dentin. This is when you begin experiencing a toothache. 
  4. The damage worsens and affects the pulp, causing extreme pain and discomfort. A root canal is necessary to treat cavities at this stage.
  5. In the last stage, the decay hits the tissue and bone surrounding the tooth root. You will experience extreme pain, swelling, and abscess formation. Teeth removal and antibiotics are common ways to improve oral health at this stage.

What is the Treatment for Dental Cavities?

The treatment for dental caries depends on the stage of dental cavities. It begins with using fluoridated oral healthcare products for remineralization and may involve root canal or teeth removal in advanced stages. Your dentist may recommend an X-ray to check how deeper cavities have affected your teeth. They may recommend CEREC dental bridges for cavity-ridden teeth removed to prevent further damage to your teeth, gums, nerves, and jaw bone.

What is the Difference Between Pyorrhea and Dental Cavities?

Both pyorrhea and dental cavities are bacterial infections. However, the primary difference lies in the area in your mouth they affect. Pyorrhea occurs in the gingival tissue approximating the subgingival plaque, whereas dental caries occurs on the supragingival surfaces of the teeth. Besides, these oral infections are caused by two different bacteria and vary in pathophysiology. 

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