Can you have holes in your teeth that aren’t cavities?

This blogpost will answer the question Can you have holes in your teeth that aren’t cavities? And will include the following topics: What does the start of a cavity look like?What Causes Holes in Teeth? Causes of cavity formation.

Risk factors.


Signs you may have a dental cavity

Can you reverse a cavity?

What does a cavity look like on an X-ray?What to Do if You Have a Hole in Your Tooth

How to prevent cavities

When to see a dentist

Can you have holes in your teeth that aren’t cavities?

Holes present on the teeth are a sign of cavities. These holes develop due to the repeated acid attacks by the bacteria that ultimately leads to cavities. 

What does the start of a cavity look like?

A cavity is a hole in one of your teeth that develops over time as a result of decay. You may not even be aware that you have a cavity until certain symptoms become unavoidable.

Unfortunately, once you’ve developed a cavity, you’ll need to see a dentist to get it filled. You should take good care of your teeth and look for early symptoms that something is wrong to avoid the need for a filling.

What Causes Holes in Teeth?

Teeth holes can be caused by a variety of factors, including teeth grinding (bruxism) and caries. Tooth decay, on the other hand, is the most common cause of holes in teeth.

A cavity is a tiny hole in the tooth in its early stages. Without treatment, this hollow will get bigger.

Bacteria in the mouth produce dental plaque, which is a film that forms over our teeth. When we consume high-sugar foods and beverages, bacteria in plaque break down the sugars in the meal to produce acid, which effectively causes a hole in the tooth.

Causes of cavity formation

Cavities are caused due to tooth decay. Tooth decay can occur due to various reasons:

Poor oral hygiene

Regular intake of sugary foods.

Decreased salivary secretion ( may happen due to certain health condition or medications)

Not flossing regularly

Wrong brushing technique


Not getting regular dental check-ups

Eating food high in acid frequently and not rinsing your mouth afterwards.

Receding gums

Risk factors

Every individual is at risk of developing cavities, but there some factors that may increase the risk such as: 

Tooth location

Cavities mostly occur in the tooth located at the back. These teeth are bigger in size and have more grooves and pits compared to the teeth in the front. Therefore food gets easily accumulated or stuck in these grooves, also they are more difficult to clean due to low accessibility. 

Certain foods and drinks

Foods that can get stuck in the teeth for a longer time like cookies, chips, breads, caramel, chocolate promote cavities. Also drinks that are acidic and/or sugary like sodas, soft drinks, milk etc promote tooth decay. Certain fruits that are acidic like oranges, limes can cause tooth decay if you do not rinse your mouth immediately after eating them. 

Frequent snacking or sipping

When you snack or munch frequently, the bacteria present in your mouth repeatedly produce acid and attack the enamel eventually causing demineralization and cavities. Hence frequency snacking and even drinking of sugary/acidic drinks should be avoided.


Bedtime infant feeding

When babies are given bedtime bottles filled with milk, formula, juice or other sugar-containing liquids, these beverages remain on their teeth for hours while they sleep, feeding decay-causing bacteria. This damage is often called baby bottle tooth decay. 

Inadequate brushing

If you don’t clean your teeth or at least rinse your mouth as soon as you finish eating and drinking, plaque will begin to form which is the first stage of decay.

Not getting enough fluoride

Fluoride is  a natural mineral, the enamel consists of fluoride and has a potential to repair itself because of it. Fluoride helps prevent cavities and can even reverse the earliest stages of tooth damage. You get fluoride from the water you drink and your toothpaste. 

Lack of fluoride leads to it’s deficiency in the enamel, making it prone to cavities. 

Dry mouth

Reduced saliva leads to dry mouth. Saliva plays a major role in washing away decay-causing bacterias, hence reduced saliva in some individuals can make them more susceptible to decay. Dry mouth can happen due to certain medical conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes etc. it can also happen due to intake of come medicines like antihistamines, antipsychotic, antidepressants etc. Sometimes therapies like radiotherapy or chemotherapy can also lead to dry mouth.

Worn fillings or dental devices

Faulty or broken fillings can easily become a site of plaque accumulation leading to tooth decay and cavities.



An untreated cavity can lead to a lot of complications both in the mouth and in the body. 

Complications of the mouth :


Tooth abscess

Swelling around a tooth

Pus around the tooth

Damage or broken teeth

Chewing problems

Complications in the body:


Cardiovascular problems

Pregnancy complications

Kidney disorders

Dementia etc.

Signs you may have a dental cavity

You may be unable to identify a very small cavity on your own in some cases. To detect it, a dentist would have to probe your tooth or perhaps take an X-ray of your teeth. A cavity will begin to reveal itself to you at some time. Here are some of the most prevalent signs of a growing cavity..


It’s possible that your tooth is throbbing or aching, and you’re rubbing it with your tongue. When you consume anything hot, cold, or very sweet, the discomfort may become much more intense.


You’ve noticed that one of your teeth is far more sensitive to temperature variations than it used to be. You could feel yourself suffering when you drink anything hot or cold.

Discolored or dark spots on a tooth

It might be a black or discoloured area on your tooth, or it could be a white spot. It doesn’t match the rest of your teeth in any case, and it’s a warning that something is wrong.

Hole in the tooth

It might be a very little hole. A wider hole or crack that you can feel with your tongue might be the culprit. If you can see a hole in your tooth, you’re in for some dental work.

Swelling or bleeding gums

Your gums, especially at the tooth line, may appear raw, red, or swollen. It’s possible that your gums are bleeding.

Bad breath

Bad breath might just be the effect of eating onions during lunch. However, persistent foul breath that persists even after brushing your teeth or using mouthwash may indicate the presence of a cavity. Bad breath that lasts for a long time is generally an indication of gum disease.

Can you reverse a cavity?

Reversing a cavity is almost impossible, but if you are regular with your dental check-ups and spot the cavity at the stage of demineralization, you may have a chance to stop it from progressing. At this stage, decay appears as white spots which are difficult to catch.

At this stage good hygiene can put a halt to the progressing decay. Dentists can even ask you to try a fluoride application treatment. If you are lucky enough, you might be able to restore the lost minerals.

But unfortunately, cavities can’t always be prevented, even with improved oral hygiene.

What does a cavity look like on an X-ray?

You may be wondering what dentists check for when they examine dental X-rays.

They may be seeking for proof that a cavity occurs in one or more of their teeth. A cavity is typically seen on an X-ray as a darker area or shadow on a tooth. A conventional filling, on the other hand, appears as a considerably brighter area on the tooth.


What to Do if You Have a Hole in Your Tooth

If you suspect that you have a hole in your tooth, call your dentist immediately. General dentists will generally use an x-ray to determine the extent of tooth decay.

Treatment options for tooth decay include:

A filling or crown 

This is the process of removing dental decay and then either filling the tooth or covering the tooth with a crown.

Root canal

When dental decay develops to the centre of the tooth, where the blood and nerves are located, a root canal may be the sole choice for removing the disease and preventing tooth extraction.

Tooth removal

When a tooth is so badly decayed that it can’t be restored, your dentist might recommend removing the tooth and replacing it with a partial denture, implant, or bridge.

How to prevent cavities

Prevention is really effective. You can limit the loss of minerals in your teeth and replenish those minerals, putting you at a lower risk of developing tooth decay and cavities in the future. This is known as remineralization.

Brushing your teeth twice a day is one method to keep cavities at bay.

Brush away any debris and germs that build plaque on your teeth and at your gum line using a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste also aids in the healing and remineralization of the enamel of your teeth.

According to studies, using a fluoride-rich toothpaste is even more beneficial than using a fluoride-free toothpaste.

Other measures that can assist you avoid getting cavities include:

Floss your teeth every day.

Limit the sugary foods you eat so residue doesn’t wind up lingering on your teeth.

Brush your teeth after eating sticky, sugary foods.

Drink some fluoridated water every day.

Ask a dentist about getting a supplemental fluoride treatment.

Talk to a doctor if you have dry mouth, since it can lead to tooth decayTrusted Source.

Chew sugar-free chewing gum, which research suggests can reduce bacteria that can lead to cavities.

When to see a dentist

In general, you should see a dentist on a regular basis for routine dental maintenance. This varies based on your demands and the state of your teeth. The American Dental Association suggests arranging routine dental exams with a dentist on a regular basis. Once or twice a year, for instance.

If you’re having problems, don’t put off seeing your doctor until your next visit.

If you observe a change in your gums or any of your teeth, see your dentist very once, especially if there is discomfort or swelling. It’s important to call a dentist if your gums are swollen and bleeding, or if one of your teeth is painful.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is it normal to have small holes in teeth?

No, it is normal to have  small holes in teeth. Holes develop due to cavities, which is a concerning problem and should be addressed by a dentist as soon as possible.

Is every hole a cavity?

Yes, almost every hole on a tooth is the result of a cavity.

Do all holes in teeth need to be filled?

No, all holes don’t need to be filled. Some holes that are very tiny can be treated by sealants or bonding. Whereas bigger holes do require a filling.

Can a big hole in a tooth be filled?

Yes, a big hole in a tooth can be filled. However, if the hole is significantly big your dentist may advise you to go for a root canal and/or crown.

How do I know I need a filling?

You will start experiencing signs and symptoms of a cavity if you need a filling. These include : toothache, swelling, tooth sensitivity, inflammation of gums, fever, bad breath etc.

Other FAQs about Teeth Cavities that you may be interested in.

Can you give someone cavities by kissing?

Can you give cavities to someone?

Can you get rid of a cavity without a filling?

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