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No one wants the pain and annoyance of long-lasting tooth sensitivity or pain. Tooth sensitivity means pain can be experienced when eating hot or cold foods, chewing on anything, or sometimes even speaking loudly. A toothache, or pain in or around a tooth, can make for a really bad day because it can be sharp and constant or come and go. Tooth sensitivity or a toothache can be a symptom of an exposed tooth root. 

What is an Exposed Tooth Root? 

About half of a tooth is visible. The rest of the tooth is below the gumline, anchoring the tooth in the jawbone. That part is the tooth root. Tooth roots contain nerves and are covered by a tissue called cementum. When a tooth root is exposed, the cementum can decay quickly or be worn away with brushing.  Once the cementum is worn out, the air, hot, cold, acidic, or sticky foods can stimulate the nerves inside the roots, causing sensitivity and pain. When a tooth root is exposed, it becomes vulnerable to bacteria and other irritants. Without treatment, an exposed tooth root can lead to severe dental problems.

Symptoms of an Exposed Root 

Symptoms of an exposed tooth root include tender or sore gums that bleed when brushing, swelling of the gums around the affected tooth, sensitivity to hot, cold, sour, acidic, or sweet foods, discomfort or pain when biting or chewing, a longer tooth appearance, and infection of the tooth’s nerve, accompanied by pain and swelling. 

Can You Live with an Exposed Tooth Root? 

An exposed tooth root should not be ignored. While some pain can be endured for a short period, an exposed root can lead to significant problems if not treated. These include periodontal disease, which can destroy the soft tissues and bones supporting the teeth, resulting in tooth decay, eventual tooth loss, and more pain. 

Causes of an Exposed Tooth Root 

Causes include the natural aging process, poor dental care habits, genetic predisposition, receding gums, gum disease, harsh brushing, dental plaque or tartar buildup, tooth grinding, dental trauma, misaligned teeth, orthodontic work (making it more difficult to brush teeth effectively, thus weakening the outer enamel of the teeth), improper tooth extraction, lip and tongue piercings, and tobacco use.           

Treatment for an Exposed Root 

Treatment for an exposed root will depend on its causes. For gum recession, the solution may be a crown, gingival mask, gum graft, or flap surgery. Dental scaling, root planing, or a root canal procedure may be needed for gum disease. For misaligned teeth, a dentist may use the treatments of braces, retainers, invisible aligners, a mouthguard, or tooth surgery. For decay, a dentist may remove the decay and fill the tooth. A root canal, crown, or tooth extraction may be required if the decay is more severe. 

Brush your teeth twice daily, floss your teeth, and get regular dental checkups and cleanings to reduce the chances of an exposed root. 

Seek Professional Dental Care 

Contact Old Mt. Pleasant Dentistry, located off Ben Sawyer Blvd in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., for trusted dental care. We use practical treatment plans and the most advanced technology. We offer caring routine dental care and procedures, including extractions and root canals. To us, the patient is the most important person in the office.