Many people who have developed cavities are unaware of the concern until it produces pain in the mouth. Regular dental exams and professional cleaning are important for early detection and possible reversal of cavity formation. Early signs of decay are small white inclusions on the teeth, indicating that the enamel area has stopped remineralizing. Eventually, the lesion will erode into a cavity formation. Before this occurs, however, a cavity may be reversible. A small stain with a shiny presentation indicates a reversal of a cavity.
Once decay progresses beyond the coating of enamel, it can move through the dentin in the tooth, eventually infecting the pulp of the tooth. This can produce a pained response in the cavity sufferer and can result in the death of the tooth. Dental cavities that progress to the point of tooth death require root canal therapy or removal to treat. Treating your dental cavities in a timely fashion is the best way to protect your systemic health, as infections can move beyond the teeth into bone tissue or the bloodstream in severe cases.