The Best Home Treatments for Exposed Tooth Roots

home treatments for exposed tooth roots

If you’ve noticed your teeth getting a bit longer or you’re suddenly experiencing increased tooth sensitivity when eating and drinking you might have an exposed tooth root. 

You may be wondering what caused it and how you can treat it at home.

The good news is that by practising good oral hygiene you can prevent the exposure from getting worse.

However, without help from a dentist, you can’t cover the exposed root back up. 

The goal of this post is to explain how to treat exposed roots at home. We first detail the causes of exposed tooth roots so you can understand how best to treat them from home. 

What Is An Exposed Tooth Root?

A tooth consists of two major parts: the crown and the root.

The part of the tooth that is visible above the gum line is called the crown.

The tooth root resembles a prong and it is embedded in the bone foundations. The root is usually twice as long as the crown to give the tooth stability.  

In a healthy mouth, the tooth root cannot be seen because a proportion of the root is surrounded by bone and the rest is covered by the gum tissue.

What Causes An Exposed Tooth Root?

The main reason a tooth root becomes exposed is gum recession, the gum recedes or shrinks back exposing the usually covered root. This is usually the result of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition caused by a build-up of harmful bacteria in the mouth.  

Gingivitis is what often happens before periodontal disease. It starts with a build-up of bacteria called plaque. Bacterial enzymes irritate the gums and they present as red, swollen and inflamed. They may also bleed when brushing. 

Gingivitis is reversible with good oral hygiene, however, if not addressed it can lead to periodontitis where the bone surrounding the tooth root is destroyed. The bone level decreases and the gum shrink back exposing the root of the tooth. 

Some Things Put You More at Risk of Exposed Tooth Roots

The cause of periodontitis and thus gum recession and exposed roots is poor oral hygiene, however, some people’s genetics can predispose them to the gum disease.   

There are also a number of things that can contribute to the development of gum disease. These are:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Poor diet including consumption of acidic foods and drinks
  • Bruxism (tooth grinding and clenching)
  • Some medicines
  • Misaligned crooked teeth
  • Hormone fluctuations (eg. menopause)

Other Causes Of Exposed Roots

Whilst periodontitis is the major cause of gum recession and exposed roots, aggressive brushing with a hard to medium bristle toothbrush or a traumatic mouth injury can also lead to exposed tooth roots. 

What Are The Symptoms Of An Exposed Tooth Root?

If the root of one of your front teeth becomes exposed the first sign might be that your gum looks a little lower than the gums surrounding other teeth or that your teeth are beginning to become a bit longer.

However, if the exposed root is at the back of your mouth you might not be able to see it. The first you may know about it is your new sensitivity to cold, hot, sour, acidic or sweet foods and drinks. Depending on how exposed your root is, the pain could be quite severe.  

You may also have signs and symptoms of gum disease which are red, swollen gums that bleed. However, if you smoke these symptoms are not always obvious.  Your teeth may be loose or wobbly. You might be worried they will fall out. 

The root surface is not covered with the protective enamel layer that covers the crown. This means you’ll be more susceptible to dental decay on the root surface as they are more vulnerable to bacterial attack.

Home Treatments for Exposed Tooth Roots

Beat Gum Disease Now

The best way to prevent and stop gum disease and thus gum recession from getting any worse is to ensure you practise good oral hygiene, or Daily Self-Performed Care.

Good oral hygiene is the best home treatment for exposed tooth roots and can be achieved by 

  • Clean along the gumline and in the pockets with a Gum Pocket Brush.
  • Brushing your teeth twice daily with soft or medium toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Carefully cleaning the interdental spaces with a single tufted toothbrush, interdental brushes, floss or water flossers
  • Reduce or eliminate those factors that enhance your chances of developing gum diseases like smoking, poor diet, excessive amounts of sugar, acidic diet, caffeine and alcohol. 
  • Control blood sugars if you have diabetes

Some suggest using desensitizing toothpaste such as Sensodyne that contains compounds that form plugs to block the dentinal tubules – small holes in the teeth. The toothpaste stops the movement of fluid through the tubules and prevents stimulation of the nerves.

Dental Treatments for Exposed Roots

It’s not possible to cover the tooth roots with any home remedies but a dentist can cover the exposed root using the following methods.

Desensitizing Pastes

A paste or gel is applied to the exposed root surfaces to help block the open dentinal tubules which are causing sensitivity when consuming cold or hot foods.

Composite Resin

Composite bonding resin can be used to cover the exposed root and is moulded into place to seal the affected area. This will protect the root from decay and you will no longer suffer from the pain of sensitivity. 

Gum Graft

A small amount of tissue can be placed over areas where little or no gum tissue exists. The tissue is usually taken from the roof of your mouth and sutured into place. New blood vessels grow into the graft and become integrated with the surrounding tissue. 

A gum graft reduces sensitivity and prevents root decay as well as further recession. It can also improve the aesthetics of your smile. 

Treating Periodontitis First

If you have periodontitis it will need to be treated before procedures to cover your exposed roots can take place. 

Treatments for periodontitis include professional gum health treatments sometimes called a deep clean, root surface debridement, scaling and root planing. In advanced cases, flap surgery may be required. 

These professional gum treatments remove plaque and tartar from the tooth roots so gum disease, bone and gum recession are halted ensuring that the root exposure does not get any worse. 

Because of the healing process after periodontal gum treatment, you may find that recession mildly increases. This is because your swollen gums will reduce and show more of the root surface, and it’s important to note that this is indicative of healing.

In some cases, the tooth may need to be removed and you may need dental prosthesis such as implants, bridges or dentures to replace the missing teeth. 

The Need for Good Oral Hygiene

Beat Gum Disease Now

Excellent oral hygiene is the best home treatment for exposed tooth roots. Any treatments to cover exposed roots or professional gum health treatments can only be successful and worthwhile if you develop and maintain the good oral hygiene we talked about earlier.  

No dentist or periodontist can successfully treat gum disease unless you are performing excellent Daily Self-Performed Care first.

Gareth Edwards image

Written by Gareth Edwards

Co-Founder & GDG Dentist

Dr. Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons) MFDS (RCPS Glasgow) is GDG Co-Founder and Gum Disease Expert.

He is a practicing dentist based in Bournemouth, UK and has treated thousands of patients with gum-related diseases.

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