What Does a Cavity Look Like?

Team Health Cages

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what does a cavity look like


This blog teaches us that cavities are tiny holes in teeth caused by decay, which look like dark spots. Things like not cleaning our teeth well, eating too many sugary foods, and having plaque can lead to cavities. Signs of cavities include toothaches, sensitive teeth, spots on teeth, and swollen gums. 

To prevent cavities, we should brush our teeth with fluoride toothpaste, floss every day, rinse our mouths, drink water, and eat less sugary foods. Going to the dentist regularly, using sealants and fluoride treatments, and good habits like not snacking too much and chewing sugarless gum also help keep cavities away and our teeth healthy.

A cavity can look different depending on how bad it is. But there are some usual signs. It might be a small dark spot on your tooth. The spot can be light brown to dark black, and it might have a little hole.

We’ll discuss these topics in this blog:

What is a Cavity?

A cavity is like a tiny hole in your tooth caused by decay. It’s not a friendly thing – it can make your tooth feel uncomfortable and sometimes hurt.

So, what makes cavities happen? There are a few things: the bacteria in your mouth, eating snacks often, drinking sugary drinks, and not looking after your teeth well.

When you eat or drink, the bacteria in your mouth make an acid. This acid can start to wear down your tooth’s enamel, which is the tough outer layer. Over time, this acid attack can cause tooth decay, making small holes or gaps in the enamel. These little holes are the first sign of cavities. If you don’t take care of them, they can get bigger and go deeper into your tooth, causing really bad toothaches, infections, and even losing the tooth.”

What Does a Cavity Look Like?

A cavity doesn’t always look the same. It can change how it looks depending on where it is and how bad it is. But there are some common signs to look for. A cavity often looks like a small dark spot on your tooth. This spot can be light brown to dark black, and it might have a little hole.

Here’s how a cavity might look in different places:

  • On the Side of a Tooth: This type of cavity happens when plaque builds up on the side of your tooth. You might see a grey, brown, or black spot that stays even after brushing.
  • On the Front Tooth: A cavity on the front tooth can be easier to notice. You might see a white or brown spot that doesn’t go away with brushing. Since these cavities can be seen when you talk or smile, it’s important to see a dentist when you notice these changes.
  • Between Teeth: These cavities, called interproximal cavities, can be hard to see without an X-ray. They happen when plaque builds up between your teeth. Flossing regularly can help prevent these cavities.

Every tooth and cavity is different. What you’re watching for is any change in the normal color or feel of your teeth. But remember, not all cavities can be seen with just your eyes, especially early on. That’s why it’s good to see your dentist regularly.

What Causes Cavities?

Cavities happen in three steps:

1. Plaque Formation

When you eat lots of sugar and don’t clean your teeth well, a sticky film called plaque forms on your teeth. It feels a bit sticky and you might have felt it if you haven’t brushed for a while. If this plaque hardens into tartar, it’s harder to remove and can hide bacteria, leading to gum disease.

2. Plaque Attack

Plaque on your teeth starts to eat away at the hard outer coating called enamel. This creates tiny holes, the first signs of cavities. Bacteria and acids in the plaque then move towards the dentin, which is connected to the nerves. That’s why cavities can make your teeth sensitive.

3. Tooth Destruction

Without help, the tooth decay continues to the inside, called the pulp. This is where all the nerves and blood vessels are. Bacteria here can make the pulp swollen and painful. By this point, the pain can even reach the bone around the tooth.

Factors that Make Cavities More Likely:

  • Eating sugary foods like candy, soda, and dried fruit
  • Snacking often
  • Drinking sugary drinks all-day
  • Baby bottles or sippy cups at bedtime
  • Not enough saliva, which can be due to not drinking water or certain health issues
  • Very young or old age
  • Not brushing enough
  • Back teeth and molars are more at risk because they’re hard to reach
  • Not enough fluoride
  • Old fillings that are worn or broken
  • Acid reflux can damage teeth
  • Eating disorders that involve vomiting

These things can make cavities more likely. Remember, regular dental check-ups can catch cavities early.

Signs you may have a dental cavity

  • Toothache Your tooth might hurt, especially when you eat something hot, cold, or sweet. It could throb or ache, and you might poke your tongue against it.
  • Sensitive Tooth One tooth is more sensitive to hot or cold things than usual. When you drink something hot or cold, it might make you wince.
  • Discolored Spot You might see a white or dark spot on your tooth that doesn’t look like the rest. It’s a sign that something’s not right.
  • Hole in Tooth You might feel a tiny hole or a bigger crack with your tongue. If you can see a hole, you’ll probably need dental work.
  • Swollen or Bleeding Gums Your gums near the tooth might look red, swollen, or bleed when you brush.
  • Bad Breath Sometimes bad breath is just from food, but if it doesn’t go away even after brushing, it could be a sign of a cavity or gum disease.

Remember, if you’re not sure, it’s best to see a dentist. They can find even small cavities with special tools or an X-ray.

How Are Cavities Treated?

1. Brushing Teeth

  • Brush Often Try to brush after meals, but at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Help Kids Kids might need help with brushing until they can do it on their own.

2. Flossing

  • Daily Flossing Floss once a day to get rid of food bits between teeth.

3. Mouth Rinses

  • Rinse Use water or mouthwash after brushing to clean more.
  • Special Rinses Your dentist might suggest special rinses.

4. Drinking Water

  • Stay Hydrated Water helps make saliva, which protects teeth.
  • Choose Water Water is better than sugary drinks for teeth.
  • Fluoride Water If your tap water has fluoride, it’s good for teeth.

5. Less Sugary Foods

  • Reduce Sweets Eat less sugary stuff like candy and soda.
  • Pick Fruits and Veggies These are better for teeth.
  • Fruits vs. Sweets Fruits with fiber help clean teeth naturally.

6. Snacking Tips

  • Limit Snacks Don’t snack all day, just a couple of times.
  • Brush After Snacks If you can, brush after snacks to clean your teeth.

7. Baby and Toddler Tips

  • Avoid Night Bottles Don’t give bottles with milk or juice at bedtime.
  • Start Brushing Early Get kids used to brushing early.

8. Dental Care

  • Sealants Kids can get sealants on their back teeth to protect them.
  • Fluoride Treatments Some people need extra fluoride from the dentist.
  • Chewing Gum Sugarless gum with xylitol helps clean teeth.
  • Treat Acid Reflux Talk to a doctor about acid reflux to protect teeth.
  • Regular Check-ups See your dentist often for cleanings and to catch problems early.

These steps can help prevent cavities and keep your teeth healthy.


In conclusion, taking good care of your teeth is important to prevent cavities. Remember to brush your teeth often with fluoride toothpaste, ideally after meals. Floss daily to remove food bits between your teeth, and rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash, especially after brushing. Drinking plenty of water, especially if it has fluoride, can help too. Try to eat less sugary foods and choose fruits and vegetables instead. Limit snacking and brush after snacks when possible. Be careful with baby and toddler feeding habits to avoid cavities. Consider dental treatments like sealants and fluoride if needed, and chew sugarless gum with xylitol to clean teeth naturally. If you think you have acid reflux, talk to your doctor about it. Lastly, see your dentist regularly for cleanings and check-ups. By following these steps, you can help prevent cavities and keep your teeth strong and healthy.


Q1. Can a cavity go away?

A1. Cavities can only be reversed when they’re just starting. Taking good care of your teeth can help restore lost minerals and stop decay early. But if cavities aren’t caught early, they can’t go away.

Q2. Can a cavity heal itself?

A2. A cavity can’t heal on its own, especially once it’s gotten through the dentin layer. When your tooth starts to hurt, it means the cavity is too big. That’s when you need to see a dentist for treatment.

Q3. How does a cavity look at the beginning?

A3. In the early stages, a cavity might look like a whitish or chalky spot on your tooth. Sometimes, it might be discolored brown or black. But often, there are no clear signs until it’s more serious.

Q4. What is a Stage 1 early cavity?

A4. Stage 1 cavities usually don’t hurt and are found by a dentist during a checkup. They might look like a small gray spot or a bit of missing enamel.

Q5. How can I fix a cavity at home?

A5. You can’t fix a cavity at home. Only a dentist can fix it, so make sure to see one soon. But you can stop the decay from getting worse by taking care of your teeth every day.

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