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What Does a Cavity Look Like?

What Does a Cavity Look Like?
Laughlin Dental
Hello, Pasadena! At Laughlin Dental, we're not just about teeth. We're about building lasting relationships with every patient who walks through our doors. Led by Dr. Lloyd Laughlin, our practice is dedicated to providing judgment-free, quality dental care that's accessible to everyone.
BY Laughlin Dental

One of your dental health’s biggest enemies is cavities. In fact, you probably already know this. This is why you brush and floss your teeth each day as your dentist recommends. However, what is a cavity and what does a cavity look like?

What Is a Cavity?

Tooth decay creates a small hole in your tooth. This hole is a cavity. Specifically, you can have multiple cavities in just one tooth, anywhere on the tooth’s surface. Cavities start quietly and eventually cause intense pain and infection if you don’t visit your dentist.

How Does a Cavity Form?

In short, a cavity is a small hole in a tooth that forms because of tooth decay. Moreover, it’s possible to have more than one cavity in a single tooth. Cavities can also form anywhere on the teeth.

Cavities begin when acid erodes the protective enamel of your teeth. This acid comes from plaque, the sticky film forming on your teeth 24 hours per day, even when you sleep. Furthermore, the longer your teeth have plaque acids on them, or the more frequently this acid exists, the quicker your cavities form.

Have you been told to stay away from sugary sweets and between-meal snacks? That’s because these foods cause cavities to form quickly and easily. In fact, plaque acids wear down your tooth enamel, creating white spots.

Even after your teeth suffer this early damage, you can stop or reverse your tooth decay. Your tooth enamel repairs itself under the right conditions. These conditions include saliva and fluoride exposure. However, once you have a cavity, your tooth has permanent damage that only a dentist can fix.

What Does a Cavity Look Like Exactly?

So, what does a cavity look like as it forms in your mouth? Most cavities start with small holes, chips, or dark spots on your teeth. Moreover, they are brown, yellow, or black. You will see one or more small dots on your tooth or even a cavity covering your entire tooth.

Not all cavities look-alike and not all are big enough to easily see. Therefore, dentists use dental X-rays to find cavities early. Long before you see a cavity, it forms on your tooth. Often, you feel the sensitivity or pain of a cavity before you see it.

More important than what a cavity looks like is what you do to prevent them. A big part of this prevention is seeing your dentist one to two times each year for routine dental exams and cleanings.