What is an Exposed Tooth Root?

What is an Exposed Tooth Root?
Author: Espire Dental Posted: March 27th, 2023 Category:

Is your tooth extremely sensitive and painful? You may have an exposed tooth root.

Does your tooth hurt when you sip a hot or cold beverage? Do you feel a sharp pain when chewing sweet or acidic foods? You may have an exposed tooth root.

“Wait, what is an exposed tooth root?” you might wonder. Inside your tooth, the root lies within the bone socket and contains dentin and the nerve pulp. Protecting the root is a layer of connective tissue called the cementum. The root and its nerves become exposed if that protective layer wears away. And when the nerves are left unprotected, your tooth will be ultra-sensitive. But there’s good news! A dentist can treat your exposed tooth root so you’ll be pain-free again.

What causes an exposed tooth root?

Besides extreme sensitivity, an exposed root may cause tender, bleeding gums. Your tooth may also look discolored or appear longer than usual as the gum line pulls away from the top of the tooth.

The University of Utah estimates one out of every eight Americans suffers from sensitive teeth. Sensitivity resulting from an exposed root is most likely due to gum disease. As gum disease progresses, the gums recede from the tooth, leaving the root vulnerable to decay and infection, which can result in severe pain and sensitivity.  

Aggressive tooth brushing with abrasive toothpaste can also cause receding gums. Tobacco use and tooth grinding can wear down the gums and expose the root. Those with misaligned teeth stand a higher risk of gum recession and, therefore, an exposed tooth root. But treatment is available at your dentist’s office.

Treating an exposed root

Because the pain of an exposed root will not go away on its own, you’ll need treatment to prevent tooth loss. Luckily, your dentist can employ various therapies to treat an exposed tooth root related to gum disease and recession, such as:

Gum graft. A piece of healthy tissue from either your gums or the roof of your mouth is placed over the receding gum and exposed root.

Flap surgery. After making a small cut in your gums, the oral surgeon removes bacteria and plaque buildup. The exposed root is then covered up again.

Dental treatments. Your dentist may suggest various dental treatments, such as covering the root with bonding material or applying a fluoride varnish or dentin sealer. If the gum recession extends over multiple teeth, your dentist can make a removable gingival mask to protect the shrinking gum line. If you grind your teeth at night, your dentist may recommend wearing a mouthguard while you sleep. A root canal can also cover an exposed root. Re-aligning crooked teeth with braces can maintain your gum vitality, too. 

Gum therapy. Scaling and root planing are the most used options to treat gum disease. Scaling removes bacteria and tartar below the gum line. It’s done along with root planing, which smooths the surface of the root. These therapies reduce the risk of bacteria building up on the root.

To avoid an exposed root altogether, practice good oral hygiene. Brush gently and floss daily. Never miss your twice-yearly dental checkups; these appointments can allow your dentist to get to the root of any dental problems.

If you’re a smoker, quit smoking now to keep your gums healthy. Cigarettes are not only bad for your heart and lungs but your teeth and gums, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 43 percent of people over age 65 who use tobacco have lost all their teeth due to gum disease. Work with your doctor on a smoking cessation plan for your oral and overall health.

Is your mouth in pain? See an Espire Dentist today!

Schedule an appointment at Espire’s La Mesa location today! Our highly trained dentists can check your teeth for an exposed root and stop the pain. Don’t live near our La Mesa, CA, office? Find one of our other locations near you.

La Mesa, CA
8555 Fletcher Parkway 
Suite 102 
La Mesa, CA 91942