The team at our Charlotte restorative dentistry center believes in promoting total wellness. That means treating issues that affect the teeth as well as the gums and other structures of the mouth. It also means helping patients understand the causes of dental health problems so they can make changes to their lifestyle that lead to better overall wellness.
It's with all of this in mind that we'd like to consider the issue of tooth sensitivity. Specifically, we want to see why exposed tooth roots leads to such pronounced tooth sensitivity and what can be done about it.
The Anatomy of a Tooth
There are three layers to every tooth:
Tooth Enamel – The tooth enamel is the topmost layer of the tooth. The tooth enamel is one of the strongest substances in the entire body.
Dentin – Beneath the tooth enamel is a substance known as dentin. Dentin is not as strong as enamel, and it is also porous.
Pulp Chamber – Inside of every tooth is a chamber filled with soft tissue known as dental pulp. This pulp (comprised of blood vessels, nerve endings, and connective tissue) was essential for the initial formation and development of a tooth.
In addition to these layers, we should also consider the tooth itself with regard to the gumline and the jawbone. Above the gumline is the crown of the tooth, which is the exposed, strongest part of the tooth. Beneath the gumline is the tooth root, which is anchored into the jaw.
Gum recession refers to the loss of tissue along the gumline. When this happens, the tooth roots become exposed. This can have a number of negative effects in terms of smile aesthetics, though the primary danger involves overall dental health. Keep in mind that once the gum tissue has receded, it will not grow back over the exposed tooth roots.
Why Gum Recession Leads to Tooth Sensitivity
The roots of the teeth have less enamel in their structure since they are intended to be concealed by the gums. This means anything that comes into contact with the tooth roots is closer to the porous dentin of the tooth as well as the pulp within a tooth.
Tooth sensitivity occurs because of the exposure of the roots and proximity to sensitive structures of the teeth. You may notice tooth sensitivity the most when having hot or cold food items or beverages.
In addition, we should also note that tooth decay can occur below the gumline following gum recession, which can be quite difficult to treat.
Causes of Gum Recession
Some of the common causes of gum recession include:
- Chewing tobacco
- Gum disease
- Aggressive brushing
- Aggressive flossing
- Oral piercing
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
Treatments for Gum Recession
The ideal treatment for gum recession is an oral surgery known as gum grafting. This procedure involves the use of soft tissue from a donor site (typically the palate) or artificial gum grafts. These grafts are sutured along the gumline to replace the missing gum tissue.
In addition to gum grafting, it's important that the underlying cause of the gum recession be addressed as well. This could mean treatment for gum disease, orthodontic care for crooked teeth, or improving a patient's oral hygiene practices. All of these matters can be discussed in greater detail as part of the consultation process.
Contact Advanced Dentistry of Blakeney
For more information about treating exposed tooth roots and helping your smile look its best and be its healthiest, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The team at Advanced Dentistry of Blakeney is here to help you achieve optimal dental health.