How can exposed roots be treated?

In today’s blog, Dr. Steven Lieber, Dr. Jessica Stilley, and Dr. Camille Medina talk about the problems associated with exposed roots of the teeth, their symptoms, causes, dangers and the good news- their treatment.  Typically, the root is that part of the tooth which is usually covered and protected by the bone and gum tissue.  Different from the tooth crown, which is covered by a layer called enamel, the root area is covered by dentin which is a less protected layer due to a softer and more porous surface. 

What are some signs and symptoms of Exposed Roots?

The most common symptoms experienced by the patients with root exposed are:  sudden, sharp, quick pain or a mild tingling sensation while drinking a cold beverage, eating ice cream or while brushing your teeth.  These sensations may come and go or might even change locations through your mouth.  Another sign of exposed roots is that your teeth may look longer and less esthetic since the color on the root surface is darker than the tooth crown itself.  They also can form dark spots stains due to the formation of dental decay.  It is important to know that not all patients with exposed roots experience sensitivity, yet that doesn’t free them from having problems on the exposed root.

What causes root exposure?

There can be multiple causes for root exposure but the main are gum disease, aggressive brushing and flossing, tobacco product used, genetics, trauma, grinding and clenching of your teeth and even some medical conditions.  

What are some dangers of exposed Roots?

Like mentioned above, exposed tooth roots can not only be unaesthetic but can cause tooth sensitivity, especially when eating cold or hot foods.  The risks of root decay increase since the dentin layer at the roots surface is much softer that the enamel layer.  Root decay, if not treated can quickly progress to the nerve and may lead to the need of root canal treatment or even tooth loss.  Another big danger is that the gums can further continue to recede causing more bone loss around teeth. 

What are the best treatment options for exposed roots?

Treatment for exposed tooth roots focuses on the gums rather than the teeth.  The best approach is to start by eliminating some of the causes such as inadequate oral hygiene, tobacco use, and very important to correct toothbrushing and flossing techniques as well. 
Some patients require further treatment such as gum grafts that will help cover the exposed roots.  Gum tissue can be taken from healthy areas of the mouth and adapted to the areas of need, in this case exposed roots.  Several visits might be required to obtain complete root coverage.  

Periodontist are the dental specialist that focus on treating this problem.  If you have any questions about how we treat exposed roots or any procedures, please contact Dr. Lieber, Dr. Stilley and Dr. Medina at our offices in Tampa and New Port Richey, Florida and they will gladly answer any questions.