Treating dental caries, decay and cracks in teeth

Tooth restorations are the various ways to replace missing teeth or repair missing parts of the tooth structure.

Tooth structure can be missing due to decay, deterioration of a previously placed restoration, or fracture of a tooth.

More often than not teeth are sensitive because of cracks in teeth that are not visible either to the eye or even by taking an X-ray.

Oral health impacts on whole-body health and our immune system in many ways, including:

  • the ability to breath optimally
  • chew your food effectively & comfortably
  • eat a nutrient dense diet
  • ability to sleep well
  • eliminate chronic infections
  • avoid exposure to toxins such as mercury and other metals

If the hardest part of our bodies (our teeth) are breaking down because of what we eat, we should be assessing our diet and making changes accordingly.

As the gateway to the respiratory system and the digestive tract, it is important that everything in your mouth is working optimally.

There are a number of symptoms that may inform both you and us that have a problem. These include:

  • Sensitivity to cold or heat
  • Tenderness on chewing food
  • Sensitivity to sweet foods
  • Tooth has broken or chipped

There are many potential causes of cracked teeth. These include:

  • A history of clenching or grinding of teeth
  • Trauma to the teeth e.g. a knock to the front of the mouth
  • Mercury amalgam fillings – as amalgam ages it expands and cracks teeth. It is not uncommon for people to say “I was only biting into a sandwich (or something soft) and the tooth broke”

The pain may come and go and be difficult to localise. 95% of cracked teeth require a restoration, which covers the tooth and prevents further fractures. 50% of cracked teeth may require nerve treatment or extraction.

If you are in pain, or think you may have a cracked tooth, please contact us for an appointment.

It is also worth noting that pain is a really poor gauge as to whether there is a problem. It often surprises us that one patient may only have a small cavity and be in a lot of pain while another may have extensive decay and infections and yet never had any pain.

Treatment options really depend upon the size and extent of the tooth decay. These will be explained to you in detail once a comprehensive assessment has been made by our Dentist.

What type of restorations are there?

There are a number of treatment options including bonded filling materials (composite resins). Composite fillings are traditionally made of Bis-GMA and filler particles made of quartz and silica. The brand we typically use is Filtek Supreme. We also can use BPA free filling.

Commonly Asked Questions

Unfortunately when a tooth breaks down, there is an infection or a cavity. This is a compromise from the optimal situation of your natural teeth in perfect health. We therefore fill teeth and consider the following when selecting materials:

  • Long-lasting
  • Tooth-like aesthetic restoration
  • Non-metallic
  • Biocompatible materials

No – unfortunately this cannot be done.

Further breakdown may arrest in some cases, however to maintain function and reduce the risk of further deterioration, teeth should be restored.

Welcome to the very big club of people who are anxious, scared or even terrified of dental treatment. There are lots of things we do that help including;

  • Calm, supportive team
  • Use of local anaesthetics
  • Television/ videos in the ceiling above you with cordless headphones
  • Nitrous oxide (sometimes called “laughing gas”) which is a gentle way of relaxing you in conjunction with local anaesthetics.
  • The use of rubber dam and its importance in calming people is a big help ensuring that you don’t have water etc. falling down the back of your throat and allows you to relax. With rubber dam and local anaesthetics many people have been known to fall asleep.


  • Intravenous sedation has the advantage of you being totally relaxed, all of the treatment can be done in one appointment and you often have no memory of the appointment
  • General anaesthetics can also be arranged
  • Find out more about sedation dentistry (aka sleep dentistry)

Some people will need to attend a general dental check-up more frequently, while others require less frequent visits. It is based on your individual circumstances.

The idea is to identify problems while they are simple to treat.

If you have not had a dental check-up within the last year, it may be time for a visit.

Decay leads to a cavity and is caused by bacteria in plaque thriving on the sugary part of our diet and producing acid, which demineralises a tooth and creates a hole or cavity.

The hole starts as a small channel about the size of a pin in the enamel. When it reaches the underlying dentine it spreads out under the enamel and towards the nerve in the tooth.

Pain is a really poor gauge as to whether there is a problem. It often surprises us that one patient may only have a small cavity and be in a lot of pain while another may have extensive decay and infections and yet never had any pain. In the experience of seeing patients at SHDC, we have seen that approximately 95% of dental problems occur without any pain symptoms.

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