Tooth Sensitivity and Exposed Tooth Roots

By Dr. Ribeiro on June 10, 2017

An illustration of gingival graftingWhen the teeth develop sharp, sudden pains, it may be a sign of an oral health problem. One common cause of tooth sensitivity is gum recession and exposed roots. General dentistry treatments from Dr. Richard C. Ribeiro can help restore the gums and alleviate tooth sensitivity caused by exposed roots. If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity and exposed tooth roots, contact our Clarksville, TN practice to discover your treatment options and restore your oral health.

What Causes Exposed Roots?

The gums play an important role in oral health. They help support the teeth and protect the roots of the teeth from bacteria and decay. Certain conditions can cause the gums to recede, leading to exposed roots. Some of these conditions include:

  • Gum disease: Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums primarily caused by bacteria and plaque and tartar build-up. As gum disease progresses, pockets may form between the gums and teeth. These pockets will deepen over time, causing the gums to pull away from the teeth and expose the roots.
  • Aggressive brushing: Aggressively brushing the teeth, which includes brushing the teeth with too much pressure or using a hard-bristled toothbrush, can wear down dental enamel and cause the gums to recede, leading to root exposure.
  • Teeth clenching and grinding: Chronic teeth clenching or teeth grinding places stress on the teeth and surrounding gums. Over time, this can cause the gums to recede away from the roots.

How Does Root Exposure Cause Tooth Sensitivity?

The roots of the teeth have a different structure than the crowns of the teeth, although both the roots and the crowns include a dentin layer. The dentin layer has microscopic tubules that lead to the inner structures of the teeth, including the dental nerves, pulp tissue, and blood vessels.

A hard enamel layer protects the dentin layer within the crown of the tooth, whereas the roots do not have an enamel layer. Instead, the gums protect the roots. When the gums recede enough to expose the roots, the dentin of the roots are exposed, allowing bacteria and temperature changes to reach the nerves of the teeth. This leads to increased pain and dental sensitivity.

Treatments for Tooth Sensitivity and Exposed Roots

It's important to seek treatment for exposed roots as this oral health problem can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss if ignored. Generally, treating the exposed roots will also alleviate tooth sensitivity caused by gum recession.

Those who have developed exposed roots due to gum disease will first be treated for their gum disease with a thorough cleaning of the teeth. The gums may then be restored with a gingival graft, or gum graft.

If gum recession has occurred as a result of aggressively brushing the teeth, patients will need to adjust their brushing habits by using a soft-bristled toothbrush and light pressure. In some cases, simply changing brushing habits will be enough to treat exposed roots but others may require a gum graft.

If teeth grinding or clenching has resulted in gum recession, patients will need to seek treatment for their teeth grinding, which may include wearing a mouth guard at night, along with treatment for exposed roots. 

Schedule a Consultation

For more information about tooth sensitivity and exposed roots, or to discuss your treatment options, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ribeiro.

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Clarksville Office

2305 Rudolphtown Rd
Clarksville, TN 37043

More Info Directions (931) 645-6362