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Can You Have Holes In Teeth That Aren’t Cavities? Yes, you can – and here’s how to deal with them

Maybe you suddenly came across a hole in your tooth, and it looks like a cavity. However, it may not just be one. A cavity is the general tooth decay caused by the destruction of enamel that causes a hole in your tooth. They’re influenced by different factors starting from your diet, oral health, and more.

There are some particular symptoms to help you understand whether it’s a cavity or not. Yet, there are some rare instances in which the hole may not be a cavity, but tooth decay. They may or may not be painful, depending on their type.

Hence, in this article, I will be discussing all the possible reasons you may have holes in teeth that aren’t cavities. To find out more about what to do if you have a cavity, or tooth decay, keep reading the article!

Table of Content

Can You Have Holes In Teeth That Aren’t Cavities?

Although the initial reaction to seeing a hole in your teeth may lead you to believe that it is a cavity, it might not be one. Rare genetic patterns generally cause holes in teeth that are actually not cavities. When your enamel breaks down, it can ultimately lead to the formation of holes before the cavity spreads.

holes in teeth that aren't cavities

Another major cause of holes forming is teeth grinding. Many people tend to grind their teeth when they’re asleep if they don’t have a nightguard. Teeth grinding makes your teeth decay faster when you’re older.

Excessive brushing is also one of the most commonly noticed reasons for having holes in teeth that aren’t cavities. Brushing aggressively multiple times during the day can cause your enamel to wear down, which ultimately leads to holes forming.

Sometimes, a tooth can break from the upper-middle, causing a hole as well. All the reasons, as mentioned earlier, may not be cavities but require immediate dental supervision.

What is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is the first stage before getting a cavity. When your enamel breaks down, your tooth will start being exposed to different acidic food. Plaque forms in all our teeth. However, the plaque combining with acidic elements can form holes that can potentially catch a cavity.

Although the terms’ tooth decay’ and ‘cavity’ have different meanings. But not many people know about the difference. Tooth decay is formerly a tooth disease that is caused by the erosion of enamel. On the other hand, when decay spreads further along with the tooth, the cavity forms in the depth.

Tooth decay is normal in adults since their teeth tend to wear down with age. However, it’s also common in people of all ages, starting from children to middle-aged patients. Both cavity and tooth decay are preventable with proper oral hygiene and constant dental check-ups. Holes in teeth that aren’t cavities initially start as tooth decay and end up being cavities. Hence, if your dentist can diagnose tooth decay early, cavities may not form in your teeth.

Symptoms of Tooth Decay

Sometimes, it’s hard to identify tooth decay symptoms. The reason for this is because it’s similar to having a cavity. Hence, without any further ado, let’s look at some of the most common symptoms of tooth decay:


With tooth decay, a sharp pain is felt when in contact with pressure on the affected tooth. It may be during brushing, drinking hot/cold beverages, or chewing on large chunks of food. A toothache is never a good sign!


If you feel a sharp tingle-like sensation while eating or drinking hot/cold food, it may be sensitivity. Tenderness often arises when there are holes in teeth that aren’t cavities but only decay.

Bad Breath

If you feel a constant unpleasant smell in your mouth, it may be a symptom of tooth decay. You can breathe into the palm of your hand to check for constant bad breath.

holes in teeth that aren't cavities


You may notice cavities trying to build up in the holes—Black, yellow, and brown spotting results from tooth decay which further turns into a cavity.

Sharp edges

If you can feel a sharp edge inside your mouth with a tongue, you’ve started tooth-chipping. If you’re feeling something different, it’s most certainly a fractured tooth.

Unpleasant chewing

If food gets stuck in your mouth or you receive an unpleasant after-taste or just a weird sensation, it may be from your tooth decay.

What are the different stages of tooth decay?

Tooth decay primarily has five stages. To understand the steps well enough, we’ll have to go through the tooth’s structure first.

A tooth essentially has three layers, named enamel, dentine, and pulp. Enamel is the outer part of your tooth that protects it from decaying due to acidic food. The dentine is a softer part of the tooth that comes right after the enamel, leading to the pulp.

The pulp is the most important part of a tooth. When tooth diseases affect your tooth, you may have to get the tooth extracted as it holds all the nerve tips.

Let’s see the different stages of tooth decay aka holes in teeth that aren’t cavities:

Enamel Lesion

Most tooth decay starts with an Enamel lesion. Although your enamel is the hardest substance your body produces, it may decay due to constant snacking and drinking acidic, sweet beverages. Once bacteria get to the vulnerable part of your enamel, it will create a cavity or hole which may have brown spots over them.

However, you must note that enamel lesions are not painful. It’s harder to see, and it definitely won’t appear in an x-ray. This is why a six-monthly checkup is recommended every time you go to visit your dentist. Your dentist can take an up-close shot of your teeth and find out the cavities forming due to enamel lesions.

Can Enamel Lesions Be Treated?

Yes – your dentist can treat an enamel lesion during the early stage to avoid further tooth decay. Fluoride, special dental sealants, etc., can treat the lesion from spreading any further. Follow proper oral health guidelines after the treatment to make sure it doesn’t arise again.

Enamel Decay

The second stage of tooth decay is enamel decay. Once the enamel destroys itself, the damages occur at a fast pace. Once an enamel decay has taken place, you’ll see the cavity-forming very clearly. The damage will be visible under an x-ray as well. This is the stage where cavities start forming gradually.

The enamel decay will not be very painful, but there will be hints of sensitivity in your teeth when you bite into food. However, if the enamel decay has reached near to the dentine, you might be prone to sharp pain at times.

holes in teeth that aren't cavities

Can enamel holes in teeth that aren’t cavities be treated?

Yes- your dentist can easily treat enamel decay with the use of fillings. However, do keep in mind that your tooth enamel will not grow back. The material of dental fillings composes different minerals such as mercury, tin, copper, zinc, and more.

They’re not toxic, and you’ll be able to eat and normally drink after getting the procedure done. With the proper care, you’ll be able to make the dental filling last for a long time.

Dentine Decay

If you’re unable to determine whether you have enamel decay or not, you might be in a bit of trouble. Tooth decay can reach as far as up to your dentine which is the soft, rather sensitive part of your tooth. You should treat dentine decay as fast as possible to prevent having further tooth damage.

Dentine decay is rather uncomfortable. You’ll be able to tell if you have dentine decay when you feel sensitive, toothache, mild discomfort, and even headache at times. The dentine decay pain will spread throughout your tooth and will be distinguishable.

Can dentine decay be treated?

Yes – your dentist can treat dentine decay easily with the help of a filling, dental crown, or an inlay. Firstly, your dentist will examine your tooth with an x-ray. Later, your dentist will decide upon the severity of the damage and take the necessary step.

You must maintain strict oral hygiene to ensure no further decay gets to the root of your tooth after receiving the proper treatment from your dentist. You can take over the countertop painkillers to help with the toothache before getting it treated.

Pulp Decay

The next stage of decay is pulp decay. When the infection gets to the pulp of your tooth, where the nerve tissue along with the gum muscles situates themselves, the severity of the toothache becomes extreme.

When you speak or bite into food, you may experience sharp pain, which will give you a headache. Your neck and jaw may hurt while talking as well because of the swollen nerve endings. A pulp infection means the tooth is extensively damaged and needs emergency care.

Can pulp decay holes in teeth that aren’t cavities be treated?

Yes – pulp decay is treatable through a root canal. This is a pretty major treatment that is done throughout a few sittings. The process involves the removal of the damaged nerves and pulp area from under your tooth.

To keep your original tooth in place without extracting it, your dentist will use a material to fill in your roots. A dental cap is also recommended after the procedure to ensure the root canal is protected for as long as possible without a fracture. You will need to take antibiotics and painkillers after the treatment is complete.

Abscess Formation

The last stage of tooth decay is abscess formation. An abscess is primarily a hole that contains white fluid. It’s also known as a tooth infection. It would help if you saw your dentist in this stage because the pain will be unbearable, causing your headache most of the time along with severe complications.

You must treat an abscess with antibiotics and painkillers. You must do to make sure other teeth don’t endure damage. This stage is fatal in many patients. Therefore, rather than home remedies immediate medical care is a prerequisite.

holes in teeth that aren't cavities

Can dental abscess formation be treated?

Your dentist will certainly take x-rays to diagnose infection. Root canal therapy and antibiotics may save a tooth. If the infection and damage to the tooth are severe, your dentist may recommend extraction to prevent disease spread.

However, the treatment for tooth decay varies by stage. X-rays and dental examinations are a prerequisite to diagnose and treat you. For any toothache, see your dentist immediately away.


Is it normal to have tiny holes in teeth?

Yes, it is pretty normal to have tiny holes in teeth if you do not follow basic dental hygiene. Moreover, too much starchy and sugary foods can also damage the enamel and create a hole in the teeth’ surface.

Why am I getting holes in my teeth?

The food leftovers in between the teeth are the breeding ground of bacteria that eat up the enamel. Thus, if you don’t brush regularly and maintain oral hygiene, the bacteria can create holes in the teeth.

Can holes in your teeth go away?

Initially, tooth decay can go away as the enamel can repair itself by using calcium, fluoride, and phosphate from saliva and toothpaste. The natural mineralization process can fill the tiny holes.

However, if the decay process continues, it won’t be possible for those minerals to fill up the holes.

Why would a dentist not fill a cavity?

A dentist treats cavities by removing the damaged part and filling the entire treated section to prevent recurrence of cavities. Filling the cavities without removing the damaged part won’t stop the reappearance of cavities. Thus, a dentist won’t fill cavities without treating them properly.


Dental health is just as important as any other body part. To prevent forming holes in teeth that aren’t cavities, make sure to get regular dental checkups. Drinking lesser sugar and acidic food along with proper dental hygiene will help a ton as well.

If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, make sure to call your dentist and get your teeth looked at. Diagnosing at an early stage will help saving time and money. Hence, we hope you found our article helpful. Till the next time, happy wholesome-living!

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