Exposed Tooth Roots

a woman experiencing tooth pain from biting on something hard

Tooth roots are the hidden anchors that keep your teeth firmly in place. They extend below the gumline and serve as the foundation for biting, chewing, and speaking clearly. Ideally, these roots remain shrouded in healthy gum tissue.

However, when the gums recede, the roots become exposed, creating both aesthetic and functional concerns.

This article by Mountain View Dental explores exposed tooth roots, delving into the causes, potential consequences, and, most importantly, preventive measures and treatment options.

Recognizing the Signs of Exposed Tooth Roots

Exposure of tooth roots is the most obvious sign. Your teeth may appear longer than usual, and the root surface, which is often yellowish in color, will become visible. This can be a telltale sign of gum recession, a condition often associated with gum disease.

Beyond the visual cue, exposed tooth roots can trigger a range of uncomfortable symptoms. Increased sensitivity to hot, cold, sweet, or sour foods and beverages is a common complaint.

Discomfort or pain, especially when biting down, can also occur. You might also notice inflamed or bleeding gums, another indicator of underlying gum problems.

Why Do Tooth Roots Become Exposed?

Gum disease, fueled by plaque buildup, is the main cause of exposed roots. If not removed, plaque hardens into tartar, irritating the gums. Untreated gum inflammation (gingivitis) can progress to periodontitis, which damages bone-supporting teeth, leading to gum recession and exposed roots.

Several factors contribute to gum disease and increase the risk of exposed tooth roots:

Poor Brushing and Flossing Habits

Brushing twice daily for two minutes and flossing daily are essential for removing plaque and preventing buildup. Skipping these practices allows plaque to accumulate and harden, triggering gum inflammation and recession.

Dry Mouth

Saliva plays a crucial role in washing away food particles and bacteria. Certain medications, medical conditions, and even aging can contribute to dry mouth, creating an environment conducive to plaque buildup and gum disease.

Underlying Health Conditions

Diabetes, for example, can weaken the immune system’s ability to fight infections, including gum disease.

Beyond Gum Disease: Other Potential Causes

While gum disease is the primary culprit, other factors can contribute to exposed tooth roots:

Aggressive Brushing Techniques

Using a hard-bristled brush or brushing too forcefully can damage gum tissue, causing recession.

Misaligned Teeth

Crowded or misaligned teeth can make it difficult to clean certain areas effectively, increasing the risk of plaque buildup and gum problems.

Smoking and Tobacco Use

Smoking weakens the immune system and hinders the body’s healing response, making it more susceptible to gum disease and recession.

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Grinding or clenching teeth can stress the jawbone and supporting tissues, including the gums. Over time, this excessive force can contribute to gum recession.

Taking Action: Protecting Your Smile from Exposed Roots

The good news is that exposed tooth roots are often preventable. Here are some key strategies to safeguard your smile:

Meticulous Oral Hygiene

Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and flossing daily are essential habits for maintaining good oral hygiene.

These practices effectively remove plaque and food particles before they have a chance to harden and irritate the gums, helping to prevent gum disease and exposed tooth roots.

Regular Dental Checkups and Cleanings

Aim for biannual dental checkups and cleanings – these visits, usually scheduled every six months, allow your dentist to catch gum disease and other issues early on. Early intervention from your dentist can prevent them from progressing.

Professional cleanings remove plaque and tartar buildup that brushing and flossing alone cannot reach.

Choosing the Right Dental Products

Select a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits comfortably in your mouth and reaches all tooth surfaces. Look for fluoride toothpaste to strengthen tooth enamel and protect against decay.

Use dental floss that is easy to grip and maneuver between teeth. Your dentist can recommend specific products based on your individual needs.

Addressing Habits Like Smoking and Bruxism

Quitting smoking is crucial for overall health, including your oral health. If you grind your teeth, talk to your dentist about treatment options like a mouthguard to protect your teeth and gums from excessive wear and tear.

Management and Treatment Options of Exposed Tooth Roots

If you’re already experiencing exposed tooth roots, there are steps you can take to manage sensitivity and discomfort and, in some cases, address the underlying gum recession. Here’s a breakdown of treatment options:

Scaling and Root Planing

This deep cleaning procedure, often referred to as “dental scaling,” is a non-surgical approach to managing gum disease.

Your dentist will use specialized instruments to remove plaque and tartar buildup from above and below the gumline. This can help halt the progression of gum disease and potentially encourage some gum tissue to regenerate.


In some cases, particularly for severe gum infections, your dentist might prescribe antibiotics to fight bacterial growth and reduce inflammation.

Soft Tissue Grafting

For more advanced gum recession, surgical intervention might be necessary.

Soft tissue grafting involves taking a small amount of healthy gum tissue from another area of your mouth or a donor source and transplanting it to the area with exposed roots. This procedure aims to cover the exposed root surface and improve gum stability.

Addressing the Root Cause

The underlying cause of exposed tooth roots needs to be addressed to prevent further problems. If aggressive brushing is the culprit, your dentist will recommend proper brushing techniques and a softer bristled brush.

For misaligned teeth, orthodontic treatment like braces or Invisalign might be recommended to improve your bite and make cleaning easier.

Living with Exposed Tooth Roots: Managing Discomfort and Maintaining Oral Health

Dietary Modifications

Certain foods and beverages can irritate exposed tooth roots. Limiting acidic foods and drinks like citrus fruits, soda, and coffee can help minimize discomfort. Opt for softer foods that are easier to chew and less likely to trigger sensitivity.

Desensitizing Toothpastes

Over-the-counter desensitizing toothpastes contain ingredients that can help block pain signals from the exposed root surface to the nerves. Typically, these products offer temporary relief, and consistent use may be necessary for optimal results.

Pain Management

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help manage discomfort associated with exposed tooth roots. However, consult your dentist for guidance on appropriate medication and dosage.

Consistent Oral Hygiene Routine

Brushing and flossing consistently removes plaque and prevents further gum recession.

Maintaining good oral hygiene also helps reduce inflammation and discomfort associated with exposed roots. Regular dental checkups remain essential to monitor your condition and ensure optimal oral health.

Mountain View Dental: Your Partner in Maintaining a Healthy Smile

At Mountain View Dental in Acworth, GA, we understand the importance of a healthy smile and the impact exposed tooth roots can have on oral health and confidence.

Our experienced dentists and hygienists are dedicated to providing comprehensive dental services, including diagnosing and treating gum disease, exposed tooth roots, and other dental concerns.

We look forward to helping you achieve a healthy and beautiful smile for life! Contact us and schedule your consultation today!


a dental model showing the insides of a tooth with decay

Exposed tooth roots can be a cause for concern, but the good news is that they are often preventable and treatable. By prioritizing good oral hygiene, scheduling regular dental visits at Mountain View Dental, and addressing underlying risk factors, you can safeguard your smile and prevent future problems.

If you’re already experiencing exposed tooth roots, early intervention, and proper management can minimize discomfort and potentially restore some gum tissue.

Remember, a healthy smile starts with healthy roots. Don’t hesitate to contact a dental professional for personalized advice and treatment options to maintain a beautiful and functional smile for life.

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