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Classifying Cavities: How Your Dentist Views and Treats Your Tooth Decay


Dentist Hyde Park

Did you know that tooth decay is second only to the common cold when it comes to the most common medical ailments facing Americans? Cavities are incredibly prevalent in the population and nearly everyone will have at least one—if not multiple—at some point in their lives. Prevention is key when it comes to cavities, and diligently brushing, flossing, and keeping up with your dental cleanings will help you avoid most tooth decay. Almost inevitably, however, one is bound to pop up sooner or later. While most cavities are relatively easy to treat, not all cavities are created equal! A classification system for cavities was developed over a century ago, and dentists still use it today! There are in fact six classes of cavities, each denoting a different location in the mouth. If you’ve ever been curious about how cavities are classified, keep reading for a bit of insight!

Class I

Class I describes decay that is occurring on the surface of the tooth and is easily seen with the eye. Cavities found in Class I will be either on the chewing sides of your molars or premolars, or on the front or back sides of your front teeth. These cavities are generally the easiest to fill.

Class II

Class II cavities can’t be seen by the eye and are hidden on the surfaces between the molars and premolars.

Class III

To earn a classification in Class III, a cavity must be on the inward facing sides of any of the front teeth, but not on the cutting edge of the tooth. These cavities are similar to Class II in that they are tucked away between teeth and not visible to your dentist.

Class IV

Class IV cavities and decay are also found in the front of your mouth, but these cavities are found between teeth as well as on the cutting edges of the tooth.

Class V

If you have a cavity that is close to your gum line, it will be classified as a V, regardless of the tooth that it is found on! They can also be found on either the front or back side of the tooth.

Class VI

And last but not least, we have Class VI cavities. These are found on the tooth’s top surface, either on the cusp tips of the molars or premolars, or on the incisal edge of front teeth.

Seeing Between the Lines

While some classes of cavities can be seen with the naked eye in a routine exam, others are hiding away causing unseen damage to your teeth. In order to find cavities between your teeth, your dentist will use X-rays of your mouth to look for signs of decay that may be lurking on the hidden edges of your pearly whites.

If you think you may have a cavity that needs filling, or if you would simply like to schedule a routine checkup, give us a call at Manus Dental in Hyde Park, Lake Zurich, or Yorkville to schedule your next appointment today!

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Get in touch to request an appointment or ask a question. Our skilled and helpful office staff is here to help! For emergencies, or to cancel or reschedule an appointment, please call your local Manus Dental office.