When it comes to teeth, most of us have a narrow view. We think of them as something only visible when we smile or speak. And while that’s true, there is so much more to our teeth than meets the eye. Unfortunately, some people discover this too late, when their teeth become exposed, and they are at risk for decay. Exposed roots are an unfortunate side effect of advanced gum disease (periodontal disease).
You should see your dentist immediately if you notice signs like bleeding gums, increased tooth sensitivity, or bad breath that doesn’t go away. If you know someone who is struggling with this condition or have been diagnosed yourself, read on to learn more about exposed roots and what they look like in different patients.
Understanding exposed roots help to understand what teeth are made of and why roots become exposed. Most teeth have two parts: the crown that sits above your gums and the root that runs below your gum line. Teeth are connected to your gums by ligaments attached to the roots.
When dental plaque builds up, it can calcify and harden into tartar, which can cause gum disease. Periodontal disease causes the build-up of plaque and tartar below the gum line, damaging the ligaments that hold teeth in place.
If the gum disease is not treated, the ligaments deteriorate, and the tooth becomes loose due to root exposure.
The first sign that a tooth root is exposed is a gum line that recedes further than usual. If you notice this, you should see your dentist as soon as possible to have it treated. The next sign of an exposed tooth root is the part of the tooth visible below the gum line.
This is usually a pink or red area that is slightly swollen. In more extreme cases, the tooth has broken through the gum, causing an open wound that leads to an exposed tooth root.
Swollen gums, particularly those around exposed roots, are more likely to bleed, especially when you brush or floss. See your dentist immediately if you see red or pink gum tissue around an exposed tooth root that continues to bleed even after brushing.
Exposed tooth roots are also more sensitive as they are less protected. If you notice this symptom and your tooth looks visibly swollen, it could result from an infection at the root.
Advanced gum disease that leads to tooth root exposure can cause bacteria to collect inside the root and result in a bad breath that doesn’t go away with regular brushing and flossing.
Gum disease is an inflammatory process that can lead to swelling in and around the face, including the roof of the mouth, cheeks, and eyes. This is a sign of very advanced periodontal disease.
The first step to preventing root exposure is brushing and flossing regularly. It's also important to get regular checkups so that gum disease can be caught early, ideally before it does any damage.
Although you can’t wholly avoid gum disease, some risk factors may increase your chances of developing it. Gum disease is more common in older people, smokers, people with diabetes, people taking certain medications (including antibiotics), and people with a weakened immune system.
When sensitivity around the tooth and gums is present, contact your dentist immediately for checking, as this is a sign of tooth root exposure.
If the gum disease is caught in its early stages and the exposed tooth root has not been broken through the gum, your dentist may be able to treat it with a root canal. But if the root has been exposed severely, your dentist may be able to use sutures to treat the wound and stop any bleeding.
If the tooth has been exposed for an extended period, it may be too far gone for easy treatment. In this case, your dentist might recommend extracting the tooth. If the tooth is still rooted but has had a root break, it can be treated by covering the exposed root with a filling.
If the exposed root has no soft tissue covering it to be treated, your dentist may place a root-form filling on it to seal off the root from bacteria.
If the area under the gum has become so thin and there is no longer any place for the root to be covered, an exposed root can be treated with a gum graft. Gum grafts are complicated procedures and are best discussed with a dentist. Your dental provider will take a portion of a healthy gum from your mouth and graft it over the exposed tooth root to seal it.
One of the best things you can do to prevent exposed roots is to practice good oral hygiene. Teeth should be brushed at least twice daily, once in the morning and once before bed. It’s essential to brush your teeth for the right amount of time: at least two minutes.
Keep the bristles of your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against your teeth and gums when brushing. This allows you to clean more surface area than brushing straight with no extra force.
People with gum disease can reduce their risk of developing further pockets by brushing and flossing more frequently and visiting the dentist for regular examinations. Gum disease is painful and can lead to other serious health problems if left untreated, so it’s crucial to catch it early and get treatment as soon as possible.
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When it comes to dental hygiene, regular visits to your dentist can help keep your teeth healthy. Missing just one appointment can cause problems down the road, so make sure you take care of yourself by scheduling regular checkups and staying on top of any problems as soon as they arise.
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