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The Color Stages of a Cavity

It’s assumed by most patients that a cavity is dark brown and ugly, but interestingly enough a cavity can come in a range of colors — from white to black, and even yellow.

The color of a cavity is determined by bacteria and tooth decay, and the stage of the cavity itself.

Since catching a cavity early on can usually save the tooth from a lot of damage, it’s very important to pay attention to the warning colors of a cavity.

Here’s what you need to know about the different shades.

Chalk-Colored Spot Indicates Early Cavity

Sometimes it’s very difficult to spot the first color of a cavity with the naked eye. Often, these spots are chalky white in color

When you leave food on your teeth, especially food containing sugar and starch, the hungry little bacteria in your mouth feed on them. This leaves behind acids. Over time, these acids break down the calcium and minerals in your tooth enamel through a process called demineralization.

If you see glossy white spots the color of chalk on your teeth, this is probably a sign of demineralization. Demineralization roughens the surface of your enamel, so you might also notice these white spots easily pick up stains. Because of this, pay attention to light brown spots on your teeth as well. This color might also be an early sign of a cavity.

At this early stage, demineralization is often reversible with good brushing and fluoride treatment. On the other hand, ignoring these chalky colored spots eventually leads to cavities.

A Yellow Or Grey Colored Cavity

Your tooth enamel is the hardest tissue in your body — but it’s not a fortress. After the first stage of demineralization, the bacteria in your mouth continues to break down your tooth enamel even further. At this point, you might notice a yellow or grey color to your cavities. This means that the enamel has broken down to the point where the dentin below shows through.

Unfortunately, dentin doesn’t have any living cells, so it can’t regrow. And unlike your outer enamel, fluoride treatments won’t help restore damaged dentin. Once these yellow or grey-colored cavities appear, they are irreversible. But early treatment often stops the decay from worsening, avoiding the need to fill the cavity.

Think You Have a Cavity? Here’s What to Do

A toothache that comes and goes may seem like just an inconvenience and not worth an immediate call to our office, but waiting until the pain becomes worse is rarely the best option. Whatever the type and severity of your tooth pain, it is best to call us right away and make an appointment.

The causes of toothaches are not always clear, and a conclusive diagnosis as to the source of the pain and subsequent professional treatment is always the best course of action.

About H. Robert Stender DDS, Inc.

 H. Robert Stender DDS, Inc. offers affordable cosmetic and laser dentistry and gentle, compassionate general dental care in Pasadena, CA. Our office is conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At H. Robert Stender DDS, we provide most dental services, from basic preventative care and general dentistry to specialized procedures, complete dental reconstruction and TMJ/Headache management. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable dental care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping those smiles healthy, beautiful, and bright. Discover affordable up-to-date dentistry and a team who truly cares at H. Robert Stender DDS.