Do You Have a Cavity?
If you happen to be looking in the mirror and notice a funny-looking spot on your tooth, you may panic slightly at the thought of having a cavity. The truth is that there are a lot of different reasons why your teeth may have a slightly abnormal looking area. But if the spot in question actually is a cavity, you certainly want to know about it. If you can’t (or just don’t want to) make it to your dentist, ask yourself these questions about the spot you are seeing.
What Color is It?
Most cavities present as black or dark brown spots on teeth, although they may appear dull orange. One thing to note is that an area of very bright whiteness—whiter than the tooth around it—may actually be a sign of enamel breaking down, the first step in cavity formation.
Where on the Tooth is it?
Depending on its location on the tooth, you can gain some insight as to whether or not what you see is a cavity. There are two types of cavities: pit and fissure, and smooth surface. Pit and fissure cavities form on the biting surfaces of back teeth. Smooth surface cavities form on front teeth or the vertical sides of back teeth. Smooth surface cavities are much more common on front teeth. The most common places that cavities occur are the biting surfaces of back teeth, in between teeth (not visible without x-rays), and on the front side of premolars and incisors at the gum line. Cavities on the tips of teeth, such as the cusp of a molar or the edge of an incisor, are very uncommon.
Now you can combine the first two questions—what color is it and where is it? Cavities on the biting surfaces of back teeth (pit and fissure) are usually black or dark brown. Smooth surface caries, like those on front teeth near the gum line, are more often orange-y or dull yellow. These types of cavities also tend to get bigger over time, although this process may happen very slowly.
Obviously, the best course of action in determining if you have a cavity is to visit your pediatric dentist in North Miami Beach, FL. But by simply knowing the common places and colors that cavities tend to appear, you can gain a degree of confidence in your self-diagnosis. At the very least, you may be able to rule out a suspicious area as a cavity.