Smooth Surface Cavity: What Is It?

Smooth Teeth cavity

A smooth surface cavity is a cavity that shows up on the side of the tooth that has been exposed to tooth brushing and chewing. Cavity or tooth decay can happen on any part of the tooth because of a buildup of tooth enamel (the white, rigid material that covers the outside of the tooth) and plaque on areas around the gums. 

It means no area on the tooth is safe. The enamel on the tooth’s outer surface (exposed to plaque) is particularly vulnerable. If plaque continues to stay on the tooth surface, eventually, it will cause damage under the gum line, and then decay can begin there. 

Cavities can start at any age but are more frequent in children than adults and more common in older people. However, the smooth surface cavities are not the same as root cavities, although they are often grouped. Moreover, let’s learn more about Smooth Surface Cavity now.

Can We Detect A Smooth Surface Cavity?

A smooth Surface Cavity is not detected easily. Since this type of tooth decay does not have a visible black line (known as a shadow) that goes through its center, an oral examination is necessary to detect this type of cavity. 

If not recognized or diagnosed at the earliest stages, a Smooth Surface Cavity may cause irreversible damage to the tooth and lead to pain, infection, and Loss. They are generally found on the side of the tooth near the tongue.

The only way to detect this type of cavity is with an explorer or a dental mirror. A dentist will scrape away some of the tooth’s outermost surfaces stained by plaque and then look for a smooth, white area of about three millimeters (about one-eighth of an inch). 

The cavity is not visible to the naked eye but can be detected with a microscope (sometimes called magnifying glass). However, specific symptoms such as lesions, pain, sensitivity to hot and cold, or swelling at the gum line may indicate this type of cavity. 

Generally, they appear as a dull, white, and damaged surface to the tooth. They develop slowly over time but sometimes can be seen in the early stages. This type of cavity is very unnoticeable, but it can cause a brown or black discoloration on the tooth enamel as it progresses.

Can We Treat A Smooth Surface Cavity?

If diagnosed with a smooth surface cavity, the dentist will advise you to pay attention to healthy brushing and flossing practices. If the cavity is not too bad yet, several possible cavity treatments are available depending upon the size of the cavity and how severe it is.

  • Fillings: Fillings are pretty effective in filling the cavity because they prevent the food from sticking to the tooth enamel and breaking down. In the case of a smooth surface cavity, fillings are applied after removing the plaque on the tooth’s surface.
  • Crown: Crowns are strong and durable, and they can be fitted to the tooth. If a smooth surface cavity is located on the back of the tooth, a crown can help prevent further decay and help make the tooth stronger.
  • Root canal: If the cavity reaches the tooth pulp, root canal treatment is necessary. Root canal treatment will save the tooth but can alter its natural color, shape, and size.
  • Tooth extraction: Another option is tooth removal. It may be entailed in the case of the severe smooth surface cavity. Tooth removal is generally considered a last resort for a tooth with a smooth surface cavity.

What Type Of Filling Do do You Need For Smooth Surface Cavity?

Fillings are considered the best option for smooth surface cavities. A simple filling can repair the tooth surface if the cavity is tiny. However, if the cavity is large, your dentist will apply a sealant to protect against tartar and plaque buildup.

As an example, one might say that if a tooth has decay under some of its gum line but not all of it, then a filling would be sufficient to treat that particular tooth. Generally speaking, fillings are recommended when the cavity is large or deep. 

A filling is considered a restorative procedure because it helps restore and strengthen the tooth that has been degraded by decay. As far as filling for the smooth surface cavity, the doctor may fill your cavity with the following types of filling:

  • Composite resins are a kind of material that is used to fill cavities. They are hard and strong and can last for years if properly maintained. It is important to note that the color of resins also varies from brand to brand; thus, matching the tooth’s color is vital when choosing a filling for a smooth surface cavity.
  • Ceramics are another filling material that can be used when filling a smooth surface cavity. This material is strong, durable, and can survive in the water and the mouth. It is also resistant to stains, abrasion, oxidation, and climate changes because of its hardness.

However, specific tips to keep in mind while selecting the right type of filling for a smooth surface cavity:

  • Avoid sealants that have silicates because they can stain teeth and leave a very noticeable white line after brushing. Silicates are also used in some fillings, and the tooth surface can turn brown when the filling is exposed to hot or cold foods and beverages.
  • Choose a tooth-colored cavity filling if possible because it makes the tooth’s appearance more natural than metallic fillings that make it appear yellow or orange-brownish.
  • Use a resin composite over metal fillings because they are not as noticeable and do not cause staining of the teeth.

Can We Prevent A Smooth Surface Cavity?

Smooth surfaces are generally caused by plaque accumulation on the teeth and can be prevented with proper brushing and flossing. However, if one develops a cavity on a smooth surface, the filling might have to be used as an option. 

If one is vigilant while brushing and flossing daily, they should not develop these kinds of cavities or other tooth problems such as gingivitis, decay, abscesses, etc. However, certain tips might be helpful to prevent smooth surface cavities.

  • Brush teeth at least twice a day. You can also brush your teeth during lunchtime, but this depends upon one’s personal preference.
  • Floss regularly, at least once or twice a day, using proper techniques. One should also remember to change one’s toothbrush every three months or when it is worn out. 
  • Drink a lot of water to keep the mouth and body hydrated. Having a dry mouth can result in an increased risk of tooth decay.
  • Avoid and reduce sugar intake, especially sugary foods, juices, and sodas. Spicy and acidic foods should be avoided since these can also cause tooth decay.
  • Avoid tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol. In excess, these can be harmful to teeth and the gums.
  • Avoid topical toothpaste since it can sometimes make plaque stick to the tooth surfaces.
  • Regular dental checkups are essential. During these checkups, the dentist can perform a visual examination of the teeth, oral cavity, and gums to conclude if there are any signs of cavities, infections, or other oral health issues.

What Are The Risks Associated With A Smooth Surface Cavity?

If you have a smooth surface cavity, there is a possibility that you might develop other oral health problems. If the cavity is huge and deep, the tooth might decay or cause an infection or abscess. It can result in pain and other oral health issues such as:

  • Infection of the tooth: An infection on the tooth from a smooth surface cavity might be accompanied by pain. It is called a soft-tissue infection. One might also experience swelling, redness, or swelling of the gums.
  • Abscess: An infection on the tooth can result in an abscess often accompanied by pain and pus. One might also experience swelling, redness of the gums, fever, etc.
  • Decay and Loss of enamel: This tooth decay on the smooth surface is called a deep cavity. The decay might be so severe that it can result in a loss of enamel. It can also result in pain and a bad odor. 
  • Tooth loss: The cavity on the smooth surface can result in tooth loss. The tooth can be damaged enough that it might need to be extracted.


Although smooth surface cavities are not considered severe health issues, they can still be harmful and dangerous if left untreated. Before ignoring these cavities, one should always consult a dentist to determine suitable cavity treatment options. 

Generally, dental fillings are recommended when one has a smooth surface cavity because they help restore and strengthen the tooth that has been degraded by decay. Therefore, it is essential that people maintain good dental hygiene habits, visit their dentist every six months, and maintain a healthy diet to prevent smooth surface cavities.


Does a smooth surface cavity go away on its own?

It is all dependent on what is causing the smooth surface cavity and how severe it is, whether smoking or drinking affects one’s teeth, etc. Since the cavity might not go away on its own, one should have it repaired as soon as possible by a dentist. However, if it’s just an initial cavity, it might disappear after brushing and flossing.

How long does it take for a smooth surface cavity to heal?

It depends on the severity of the cavity and the dental fillings used to repair it. The treatment procedure can take anywhere from two hours to a week or more, depending on how deep and large the cavity is.

Is it okay to eat after a smooth surface cavity is filled?

Yes, one can eat anything they want as soon as the filling is in place. But if the cavity was painful or had a foul odor, the person might want to avoid certain foods that cause pain when chewing or eating them.

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