Receding gums or dental trauma can end up exposing the sensitive root of your tooth. An exposed root can make it uncomfortable to eat very warm or very cold foods or to even chew hard with the affected tooth. Exposed roots are also more susceptible to harmful bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to periodontal disease and abscessed teeth.
If you suspect you have an exposed tooth root, make a dentist appointment with someone like McMillin Jeff DDS as soon as possible. Here are a few of the potential treatments for an exposed root.
Dental bonding involves your dentist using a malleable resin material to form a shell on the exterior of your tooth. The material is manipulated into place by hand so the dentist can carefully use the resin to cover the exposed root. A special light is then used to harden the bonding material in place.
Bonding is fairly natural looking but is also susceptible to staining from coffee, tea, or tobacco. So if teeth staining is a common problem for you, this might not be the best fit. The bonding material also isn't meant to withstand a lot of bite force so isn't a good fit for the molars or any other teeth that take on a lot of that force while chewing.
A dental crown is a rigid tooth cap custom-created by the dentist based on molds done of the affected tooth. The crown can fit over the tooth right down to the gums, which means the exposed root will also be covered.
Crowns are available in a wide range of materials from porcelain to gold. Porcelain is more natural looking and, unlike bonding resin, resistant to staining. But an all-porcelain crown is also susceptible to bite force damage.
A metal-backed porcelain crown offers the natural look with added strength that will keep the crown from breaking off around the exposed root.
If your tooth is otherwise healthy but your gums have receded, your dentist might opt to cover the exposed root using a gum graft.
A gum graft procedure involves removing soft tissue from the roof of your mouth or elsewhere in your mouth and stitching the tissue onto the receded area. Your dentist will carefully sculpt the tissue so that it fits over the exposed root and hugs the bottom of the tooth. Once the graft heals, you won't be able to tell that there were two different sections of tissue there.