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Can You Tell If You Have a Cavity or Decay?

Dark areas on your teeth are usually decay!

Gum disease and decay

Sometimes you can, ususally you can’t!  However, the more aware you are of what is going on in your mouth, the more likely you will be to notice if something changes.  Little things like your dental floss ‘catching’ on a rough area between your teeth or on the edge of a filling or a crown could mean that decay or a cavity has started between the teeth.

Decay is the process – a cavity is the hole in the tooth!  Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably.  No matter what you call them, cavities should be treated early whele they are small and not a lot of your tooth has been destroyed.  Teeth will often show signs of mineral loss that appears like white or discolored areas, or decalcification prior to actual decay forming .

Deep decay is present between the top teeth and decay is just starting between two of the lower teeth.

In the x-ray shown here, you can see a deep black or gray cavity between the two top teeth.  A cavity this size may or may not be sensitive and may or may not catch your dental floss.  Decay often starts between teeth in the flossing zone.  You can also see a white spike on the upper molar beside the decayed area where tartar has formed so thick that it shows up on an x-ray. A large restoration or possibly a crown will be needed to save this tooth.  If the decay has entered the nerve area, your tooth will need a root canal plus a large filling or crown to save the tooth.  If your dentist is taking regular xrays, we can treat a cavity before it gets this size.

See the small black triangle on the side of the bottom tooth?  That is a cavity just starting.  you may be able to prevent a small cavity such as this from spreading into the softer dentin layer of the tooth and requiring a filling by using good oral hygiene techniques like brushing and flossing! And, of course, seeing your dentist regularly!

This tooth may look totally normal in the mouth. An x-ray is needed to show the decay between the teeth!

Very large rough silver fillingLook for dark areas on the top or sides of your teeth

If you would like to see images of your teeth and see the decay or cavity that is being evaluated or treated, please ask us!  Our office would be happy to explain in as much detail as you would like what is going on in your mouth.  Conversely, if you would just like to enjoy peaceful or rocking music while you are being treated and remain oblivious to the nuts and bolts of the procedures we would be happy to do this as well.  Once you make an informed decision about your dental care we will strive to treat you as comfortably as possible!  Our office is located in Grand Junction,
Colorado. Our office phone number is (970) 242-3635.  Please visit us on Facebook (see Julie M Gillis DDS PC) or call us if you have any questions or concerns.

Yours for better dental health,

Julie Gillis DDS, AAACD

Restoring Teeth, Restoring Smiles