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As you know, "cavity" refers to a hole or an empty space between two surfaces or on a surface or inside of it.

Also, this is the only noun which can refer to teeth decay!

Having said that, I think just utilizing "cavity" in the following example wouldn't make good sense, and whereas the word "cavity" can be used for different types of empty spaces (like abdominal cavity,) I guess it would be vague if it's used on its own in a sentence. That said, I need to know what is the normal way of saying the following sentences:

  1. Eating too many sweets ........
    a. causes cavities in teeth
    b. causes teeth cavities

or

  1. Drinking hot and cold beverages consecutively ........
    a. causes cavities in teeth
    b. causes teeth cavities
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  • By the way, these concerns don't change the answer to your question, but: I don't think cavity is the only noun which can refer to tooth decay (well, maybe if it has to be only one word. "Dental caries" is also a term, and "tooth decay" does well too.) And I'm not a dentist, but I think hot/cold beverages simply make the pain of cavities worse, not contribute directly to decay. Nov 8, 2021 at 19:58
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    I'm not so sure that using cavity by itself, without tooth or teeth, would be confusing. Yes, the word is used of many other types of open spaces, but context would almost always help explain. But the dental meaning is by far the one that comes up most often. If a stranger walked up to me and said simply, "I have a cavity," my mind would go immediately to teeth, rather than, say, an abdominal cavity. With the examples you give, talking about eating and drinking, you could safely end them all simply with "causes cavities," without specifying teeth, and the meaning would be clear. Nov 8, 2021 at 20:05
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    It's just called a cavity. Eating too many sweets does not cause a cavity in a coal vein deep within the Earth. It causes a cavity. (Everyone knows it's a cavity caused by tooth decay.)
    – EllieK
    Nov 8, 2021 at 20:06
  • Thank you very much @Andy Bonner. That was very helpful.
    – A-friend
    Nov 8, 2021 at 20:27

1 Answer 1

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"Teeth cavities" would be incorrect. Nouns used as adjectives to modify other nouns are nearly always singular. We would say "causes tooth cavities".

"Cavities in teeth" is fine, but less idiomatic. It would be like saying "services for customers" when you can just say "customer service".

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  • ...and the cause of the cavities makes no difference to the grammar. Nov 8, 2021 at 19:49

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