Teeth Sensitivity and Exposed Tooth Roots

Teeth sensitivity can occur for any number of reasons, including enamel erosion, abrasion, bruxism, and exposed tooth roots. In this blog post,  we will discuss how exposed tooth roots can cause tooth sensitivity, as well as the causes and dangers of exposed tooth roots.

Why Do Exposed Roots Result in Tooth Sensitivity?

The crown of a tooth is protected by enamel, the clear, outer layer that protects it from sensitivity to temperature changes and pressure. The root surface of a tooth does not have enamel. Instead, the root surface is protected by gum tissue. If the gums recede, exposing the sensitive roots, patients may experience discomfort when the tooth roots come into contact with hot and cold foods or pressure from dental tools.

Causes of Exposed Roots

If a taste of ice cream or a sip of coffee is sometimes painful or if brushing or flossing makes you wince occasionally, you may have a common problem called “sensitive teeth.” Some of the causes include tooth decay, a cracked tooth, worn tooth enamel, worn fillings and tooth roots that are exposed as a result of aggressive tooth brushing, gum recession and/or periodontal (gum) disease.

 The gums may recede and expose your tooth roots for a number of reasons, including:

  • Gum disease: Gum disease is a bacterial infection that slowly damages gum tissue, causing it to recede and loosen its hold on the teeth.
  • Bruxism: The force that is applied to the teeth when clenching or grinding can wear down the gum line.
  • Aggressive brushing: Apply light pressure when brushing the teeth. Too much pressure can slowly erode the gum line.
  • Malocclusion: Malocclusion ( Wrong bite) can result in excess pressure in certain areas of the mouth, causing gum wear.
  • Orthodontics: can also lead to problems with gum recession and root exposure.
  • Misaligned teeth: can lead to gum recession and exposed tooth roots.

Symptoms of Exposed Tooth Roots

One of the first symptoms of root exposure is tooth sensitivity. An ache or twinge or sharp pain can happen at any time; however, discomfort is typically triggered by hot and cold temperatures and sweet or sour foods. Your teeth may appear longer and you may even be able to see the root of the tooth at the base of your gums. Other signs include swollen or bleeding gums, which often point to gum disease, a leading cause of root exposure.

Dangers of Exposed Roots

Exposed tooth roots do not just cause tooth sensitivity; they can increase the risk of other dental problems as well. Because the roots don’t have the protective enamel layer, they are more vulnerable to tooth decay. This makes it easier for bacterial acids to wear away the dentin layer of the tooth, potentially causing root cavities or a root canal infection.

Untreated Exposed Tooth Roots

It’s important to treat tooth sensitivity and exposed roots as soon as possible. If left untreated, your condition may worsen. If the exposed roots are a result of gum disease, it can progress to periodontitis, which can lead to bone loss in the jaw. If your brushing habits are to blame, and you don’t fix them, more tooth roots will become exposed and your sensitivity may increase.

Treatment for Exposed Roots

 Home care

Tooth sensitivity can be minimized with home care. Use a sensitive toothpaste that contains anti-sensitivity active ingredients. Desensitizing toothpaste usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced. When choosing toothpaste or any other dental care products, look for those that display the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance—your assurance that products have met ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness. Make sure you use a soft-bristled toothbrush and use circular brushing motions to avoid excessive pressure on the sensitive areas. If you smoke, you should seriously consider quitting.

Professional dental care

The first choice of treatment is to cover the denuded root with a gum graft, and this will be done by a “Periodontist”, who is a gum graft specialist.

a)If gum tissue has been lost from the root (gum recession), Gum specialist” Periodontist” may recommend a surgical gum graft to cover the root, protect the tooth and reduce the sensitivity.

 b) Fluoride varnish can be applied to exposed areas, strengthening the enamel and dentin.

c) Fluoride foam or gel can be placed into a mouth tray; you then sit with this in your mouth for 3-5 minutes, providing the teeth with a high concentration of fluoride to strengthen the areas.

d) Bonding agent, the material used to stick tooth colored restorations to teeth, can be used to seal the dentin surface and provide a barrier to the stimuli that cause sensitivity.

e)Your dentist may recommend other treatments, such as a bonding filling, a crown, an inlay or bonding to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity. The type of treatment will depend on what is causing the sensitivity.

In cases in which hypersensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend endodontic (root canal) treatment to eliminate the problem.


Speak with your Dr.Miski. He will identity the cause of your tooth root exposure and offers additional advices. If your exposed roots are caused by gum disease, he will suggest the best course of treatment in terms of, gum graft, white filling, or dental sealant to cover the exposed root.