Cavities are often associated with having poor dental hygiene habits or a dental issue that primarily affects children. Tooth decay can affect individuals in different stages of life. The contributing factors to decay vary. Individuals who do not get routine dental exams might have cavities for years and not know that they exist. There is a common misconception that cavities appear as tooth discolorations. Some cavities are translucent in appearance and may be difficult or impossible to identify without special equipment.