The Nyvad classification is a visual-tactile caries classification system devised to enable the detection of the activity and severity of caries lesions with special focus on low-caries populations. The criteria behind the classification reflect the entire continuum of caries, ranging from clinically sound surfaces through noncavitated and microcavitated caries lesions in enamel, to frank cavitation into the dentin. Lesion activity at each severity stage is discriminated by differences in surface topography and lesion texture. The reliability of the Nyvad criteria is high to excellent when used by trained examiners in the primary and permanent dentitions. The Nyvad criteria have construct validity for lesion activity assessments because of their ability to reflect the well-known caries-controlling effect of fluoride. Predictive validity was demonstrated by showing that active noncavitated lesions are at higher risk of progressing to a cavity or filled state than do inactive noncavitated lesions. Lesion activity assessment performed successfully as a screening tool to identify individuals with a poor caries prognosis. Because of their predictive validity, the Nyvad criteria are superior to other current caries lesion descriptors for the detection of changes in the lesion activity status over time. The Nyvad criteria fulfill all the formal requirements for a robust caries lesion classification and are recommended for evidence-based caries management in clinical practice and in research.