Pictures of Tooth Decay

These are all pictures of tooth decay in every shape and form that may develop in your mouth. We have pictures of cavities on the top, side, and even in between the teeth. Get ready to be bombarded with visuals.

Tooth Decay Pictures:

Pictures of pre-cavities and white spot lesions

These are all white spots on various teeth and they're known as pre-cavity lesions because the enamel is demineralizing. They can appear anywhere on the surface but most commonly on the cheek facing side.

They typically look chalky white in color, hence the name.

Fortunately, these can be stopped and remineralized by using either a fluoridated or hydroxyapatite toothpaste. The appearance may not change but you can strengthen the teeth.

Pictures of tooth decay on top of the tooth

Tooth decay can appear on the top of any teeth in your mouth ranging from molars, premolars, and to even wisdom teeth. They may or may not have an actual cavitation but they're definitely brown to black in color.

At the very least these teeth will require a cavity filling done by your dentist. You cannot treat these with at home remedies because the decay needs to be excavated by a dental professional.

Pictures of tooth decay on the side of teeth

The sides of your tooth such as the cheek side and the tongue side can both be penetrated by tooth decay. They may or may not have an actual hole but they're definitely brown to black in color.

For decay on the side of the teeth, as long as they aren't very deep they can be restored with a tooth filling. We do recommend using a tooth colored filling so that it blends in inconspicuously.

Pictures of tooth decay in between teeth

Tooth decay that is in between the teeth are typically known as kissing cavities because the decay affects both adjacent teeth that are next to each other. These you cannot see with your naked eye until you drill into them. The only way your dentist can detect them is by taking bite wing x-rays.

Cavities that are in between the teeth will require dental fillings on them. In this case you'll need two fillings since the kissing cavities affect more than one tooth.

Pictures of tooth decay in the pulp

cavity in the pulp of a tooth

Tooth decay can penetrate the enamel and work its way to the pulp of the tooth. You can tell it has reached there when you clean out the cavity and see a pinpoint red dot, which signifies the nerve.

Unfortunately these teeth will require a root canal to treat. Afterwards you'll need a dental crown to protect the tooth.

Pictures of tooth decay under old dental fillings

Just because you've had the cavity filled before it doesn't mean that it can't get another cavity in it again. The phenomenon of getting the cavity a second time is called recurrent tooth decay. What it looks like is dark or brown underneath of an old dental filling. There may or may not be a hole.

Sometimes these can be treated with a new cavity filling but if the old filling was already deep, you may need a root canal instead. This is why it is important to maintain good oral hygiene so that you don't end up getting recurrent decay.

Pictures of tooth decay under crown

These are pictures of tooth decay that is underneath a crown. The first photo is with the crown on, the second photo is after the crown was taken off, and the third photo is a close up of the decay. These photos serve as evidence that you can indeed can a cavity underneath the crown.

The crown itself does not become decayed but the tooth structure that is at the margin of the crown, usually by the gum line is where the decay can still happen.

Treatment for crowns with tooth decay would be a new dental crown. You will need to make an appointment with your dentist to have the crown removed so that they can clean out the decay. Afterwards you will need a brand new one made by the dental lab. However, be mindful that there is a limit to how many times you can replace a crown so don't let it happen more than once.


These are all images of what tooth decay looks like. Basically cavities can form on any surface of the tooth as well as under existing tooth fillings and even dental crowns. That is why it is important to still maintain your oral hygiene even after you get the cavity removed. If you want to know more in depth on what cavities look like, you can check out our other article.

Hopefully that satisfies your curiosity of seeing actual pictures of tooth decay.

Author: Written by Dr David Chen DDS, a long island city dentist.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!