Exposed Tooth Root
Exposed tooth roots can lead to discomfort, ranging from sharp pains to heightened tooth sensitivity when brushing and consuming hot, cold, sweet, sour, or spicy foods.
Receding gums or trauma that damages the gum line can lead to the root surfaces of your teeth becoming exposed.
Research has found that about 23 percent of American adults have gum recession that is greater than 3 millimeters deep, which indicates that there may be a problem with gum disease. However, this is often a sign of gum disease. If you experience gum recession, get in touch with your dentist.
Continuing on, it is important to be aware of the possible symptoms that might accompany an exposed tooth root. Additionally, it is beneficial to consider potential causes and available treatment options to improve oral health.
What Are Tooth Roots?
The tooth roots are located within the bone socket and are covered in a hard but more fragile connective tissue known as cementum. Since this tissue is softer than tooth enamel, it can easily be damaged by brushing if the roots become exposed, resulting in rapid decay.
The roots of teeth contain dentin and nerve pulp, meaning that if the cementum is worn away, the tubules within the dentin become exposed which can allow hot, cold, acidic, or sticky foods to reach the nerves within the roots. This can lead to tooth sensitivity in the affected area.
The root of a tooth is typically protected and held in place by gum, cementum, and bone. When this support is removed, the root becomes exposed, leading to the exposure of the nerves inside the tooth roots.
What Causes Exposed Tooth Roots?
In order for the roots and nerves of your teeth to become exposed, a number of factors must be considered. In most cases, gum disease from poor oral hygiene is the main cause of exposed tooth roots. Understanding what causes exposed tooth roots will help you to prevent the problem from occurring and provide you with the best treatment. Exposed tooth roots and exposed tooth nerves can be caused by:
- Gum disease: Poor oral hygiene causes gum disease which leads to swollen and weakened gums, making them susceptible to losing gum tissue and exposing the roots of teeth.
- Receding gums: If gum tissue is lost or there is gum disease present, it can lead to a receding gum line. This exposes the tooth roots and nerves.
- Harsh brushing: Aggressive brushing with excessive force can cause damage to enamel and inflame the gums, potentially leading to root exposure.
- Tooth grinding: Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can have a detrimental effect on the teeth leading to weakened enamel and exposed root. The pressure of the grinding action can cause damage to the outer layers that surround the nerves.
- Trauma: Similar to tooth grinding, traumatic injury to the teeth can weaken the protective outer layers of the tooth, leaving the roots and nerves exposed.
- Orthodontic work: Failure to maintain a comprehensive oral care regimen can lead to weakened enamel, the outermost layer of the tooth, which makes brushing more difficult due to braces. Without proper brushing, this leaves the inner layers of the tooth susceptible.
- Misaligned teeth: When teeth are not properly aligned within the gum line, it can create gaps that enable plaque bacteria to accumulate more easily, increasing the risk of developing periodontal disease.
- Tobacco use: Smoking can be detrimental to dental health, as it can increase the risk of exposed tooth root. This is due to the teeth becoming more prone to decay and tartar buildup, which are key causes of gum disease.
Symptoms of an Exposed Tooth Root
Symptoms of exposed tooth roots can vary depending on what caused the root to be exposed. It is possible to have exposed roots without any symptoms, but you should be aware that these symptoms may or may not be present.
- Tender gums: If the root of your tooth is exposed, it can lead to tenderness or soreness in your gums that may result in bleeding when brushing.
- Longer-looking tooth: It is possible that your tooth may appear to be longer than normal if the gum line around it is receding.
- Swelling and pain: If an infection occurs to the nerve or pulp of a tooth, one may experience sharp pain and swelling.
- Tooth discoloration: As a result of tooth decay, you may also notice a discoloration of your teeth.
- Sensitive teeth: You may experience sensitivity to your teeth as a result of brushing your teeth, as well as eating food that is:
- acidic foods
Exposed tooth root treatment
It is important to determine the cause of an exposed tooth root as well as any associated symptoms in order to determine the proper treatment. Potential treatments may include the following options.
- Crown: A dental crown is a protective cap designed to strengthen and cover the exposed root of a tooth. Utilizing a dental crown can help protect your tooth from further damage.
- Gingival mask: If you have multiple teeth with receding gums, your dentist may suggest a gingival mask as an option. This particular type of removable artificial gum is designed to cover receded gums and provide additional protection.
- Gum graft: Your dentist may use a piece of tissue from a healthy area of your gum or the roof of your mouth to cover recessed tissue in the gum line.
- Flap surgery: During flap surgery, a qualified surgeon will make a small incision in the patient’s gum to remove tartar buildup and bacteria. They will then cover the exposed part of the tooth to protect it from further harm.
- Dental scaling: Your dentist may use dental scaling to remove bacteria and tartar that has built up below the gum line.
- Root planning: Your dentist takes preventative measures by smoothing the surfaces of your roots to reduce the risk of a buildup of bacteria.
- Surgery: Your dentist may suggest flap surgery or a gum graft in the case of advanced periodontal disease.
- Root canal: If the root of your tooth is infected, a root canal procedure may be necessary. During this procedure, your dentist will remove the infected core of your tooth.
The treatment for teeth grinding varies depending on the underlying cause. If clenching of teeth occurs during the day, consciously being aware of the behavior may be a sufficient solution to the problem. In contrast, if clenching of teeth is happening during sleep, a mouthguard may be prescribed by a dentist.
Your dentist may provide various treatments to correct misaligned teeth, such as:
- invisible aligners
- tooth removal