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How Exposed Tooth Roots Lead to Tooth Sensitivity

By Dr. David Wyse on June 16, 2017

The dangers of gum recession and exposed tooth rootsThere are many different dental problems that can impact the health and appearance of your gums. Patients who visit our Bloomington restorative dentistry center know we take a holistic approach to dental care, meaning we will address all potential issues that may impact overall dental wellness.

Tooth sensitivity is often a sign of tooth decay or other serious dental health problems. Exposure of the tooth roots is one such problem. Let's take a moment to consider why gum recession happens and what problems may be associated with the condition.

The Anatomy of a Tooth

To understand why tooth sensitivity occurs when tooth roots are exposed, let's first consider the anatomy of a tooth.

Each tooth consists of three layers:

  • Tooth Enamel – The topmost layer of a tooth, enamel is one of the strongest substances in the entire human body.

  • Dentin – Dentin is an interior layer of tooth structure. It is a porous substance; the pores are known as dentinal tubules.

  • The Pulp Chamber – The pulp chamber is the hollow interior of the tooth filled with dental pulp. This pulp is comprised of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue that aided in the tooth's initial formation.

The top portion of the tooth above the gumline is known as the crown. The portion of the tooth concealed by the gums and that extends into the jawbone is known as the tooth root.

About Gum Recession

Gum recession refers to the loss of gum tissue along the gumline. When this occurs, more of the tooth root is exposed rather than concealed. Once the gum tissue is lost, the gumline is not able to grow back to that extent.

Why Tooth Sensitivity Occurs

When the tooth roots are exposed, they are generally more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures than the crown of the teeth. This is because there is less enamel to protect the dentin and pulp chamber and no gum tissue to keep the root concealed.

What Causes Gum Recession?

Common causes of gum recession include the following:

  • Smoking
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Gum disease
  • Brushing the teeth too aggressively
  • Aggressive flossing
  • Tooth grinding (bruxism)
  • Crooked teeth (malocclusion)

What If Gum Recession Goes Untreated?

If gum recession goes untreated, it can lead to far worse cases of tooth sensitivity and dental pain. Teeth may develop tooth decay below the gumline, which is much more of a challenge to treat. The risk of root canal infection increases, as does the risk of loose teeth and eventual tooth loss.

Treatments for Gum Recession

The best treatment for gum recession is the use of gum grafts, which involves surgically placing soft tissue to rebuild the gumline. Dentists will also address any damage to the teeth that may have occurred as a result of the root exposure.

Tips for Preventing Gum Recession

To prevent gum recession, consider the following dental care tips:

  • Brush and floss after every meal
  • Brush and floss gently yet thoroughly
  • Avoid the use of tobacco products
  • Avoid oral piercings
  • Eat a health and balanced diet
  • Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings

Learn More About Tooth Sensitivity and Gum Recession

For more information about your options for advanced dental care treatment and how you can have a healthy and beautiful smile, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. We look forward to your visit and discussing these matters in much greater detail.

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Bloomington, IL 61704

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Bloomington Office

207 S Prospect Rd
Ste 2
Bloomington, IL 61704

Open Today 8:00am - 5:00pm

More Info Directions (309) 663-6393