The most widely used method to classify carious lesions is using G.V. Black’s classification, which was developed by G.V. Black in the early 1900s. It describes caries based on the anatomical location on the tooth. It is one of the easiest ways to describe carious lesions.

The classification is quite simple with 5 classes.

Class I

This is caries affecting the pits and fissures of teeth (i.e. just the occlusal surface).

Class 1 Carious Lesion
Class I Carious Lesion

Class II

A carious lesion which involves the interproximal areas of posterior teeth. Often, this is best seen using bitewing radiographs.

Class 2 Carious Lesion
Class II Carious Lesion

Class III

A carious lesion involving the interproximal surfaces of anterior teeth.

Class III Carious Lesion
Class III Carious Lesion

Class IV

A carious lesion involving the interproximal surface on anterior teeth AS WELL AS the incisal edge.

Class IV cavity
Class IV cavity

Class V

Carious lesion affecting the cervical third of the tooth, both anterior or posterior.

Class V Carious Lesion
Class V Carious Lesion

These classes are summed up in the following image:

G.V. Black's Classification of Carious Lesions
G.V. Black’s Classification of Carious Lesions

You may note the extra Class VI which has since been added to the original classification. Class VI carious lesions are lesions involving the cusp tips, however, it is very, very rare that just cusp tips would be affected, therefore this class is rarely used. 

References and Recommended Reading

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BDS (Hons.) MFDS RCPS (Glasg.) Cert Med Ed FHEA - Currently working as a Speciality Doctor in OMFS and as an Associate Dentist


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