Exposed Tooth Root: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Exposed Tooth Root: Causes, Symptoms, and TreatmentsCauses of Exposed Tooth Roots Exposed Tooth Root Symptoms Exposed Tooth Root Treatments Prevention Techniques for Exposed Tooth Roots

The roots of the teeth help keep your teeth in place within your jawline and gums. Once tooth roots are exposed, you become susceptible to sensitivity pain and other serious health conditions.

Causes of Exposed Tooth Roots

There are a number of factors that contribute to exposed tooth roots and nerves. However, gum disease is often the main culprit. Understanding what causes exposed tooth roots can help you to better treat the problem and practice the right prevention techniques. Causes of exposed tooth roots and exposed tooth nerves include:

  • Gum disease: Gum disease leaves your gums swollen, weak, and prone to gum tissue loss, no longer covering the roots.
  • Receding gums: If your gum line begins to recede due to tissue loss or gum disease, it exposes the tooth roots and nerves.
  • Harsh brushing: Applying too much pressure to your teeth and gums when brushing can strip enamel and leave gums inflamed, leading to root exposure.
  • Tooth grinding: Also referred to as bruxism, tooth grinding weakens your teeth and can have a severe impact on the outer layers surrounding the nerves, exposing the root.
  • Trauma: Similar to tooth grinding, trauma to your teeth weakens the protective outer layers of the tooth, leaving roots and nerves exposed.
  • Orthodontic work: Because braces make it more difficult to properly brush your teeth, not adhering to a thorough oral care routine may cause your enamel (the outermost layer of the tooth) to weaken, leaving the inner layers vulnerable.
  • Misaligned teeth: When teeth are not perfectly aligned, or “in contact,” they can leave gaps along the gum line, allowing plaque bacteria to build up more easily and leaving your gums vulnerable to disease.
  • Tobacco use: Smoking increases your risk of contracting exposed tooth root as it damages your teeth and can lead to decay or tartar buildup, the main culprits of gum disease.

Exposed Tooth Root Symptoms

If you’re worried you may have an exposed tooth root, below are the common signs to look out for:

  • One of the most obvious signs is tooth sensitivity, where you experience severe pain while consuming sweets, acidic foods, and hot or cold beverages or food
  • Sensitivity pain that persists long after your tooth came in contact with hot or cold beverages and food
  • Tender, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Discoloration of the affected tooth
  • Infection of the nerve of the tooth, often accompanied by swelling and pain

If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your dental professional right away.

Exposed Tooth Root Treatments

Everyone benefits from a proper oral care routine, here are some additional options you can consider when helping to treat symptoms of exposed tooth roots:



Causes/Specific Symptoms

Dental Procedure

Home Care & Prevention

Gum disease

Professional cleaning

Dental scaling and root planing

Brush with Crest Gum Detoxify and rinse with Crest Gum Care Mouthwash which can help reduce the early signs of gum disease


Desensitizing agents

Fluoride gels

Brush with a fluoride toothpaste specially developed to ease the pain associated with sensitivity

Tooth Grinding

Fitted mouthguard

Protect from future damage with an over-the-counter night guard and brush with a fluoride toothpaste designed to repair and strengthen weakened enamel


White fillings

Dentin sealers


Misaligned teeth


Clear aligners

Dental implants

For smiles with wider gaps try a floss that covers more area than standard floss for better plaque removal between teeth and along the gum line


Root canal

Rinse with a mouthwash formulated to kill germs to help limit the risk of infection

In more severe cases of exposed tooth roots, surgery such as a gum graft performed by a periodontist (gum specialist) is required. If an exposed tooth root is left untreated, it will lead to additional oral health complications. For exposure caused by gum disease, a more severe form of the disease called periodontitis will develop. Additionally, you may experience bone loss in the jaw, making it that much more crucial to prevent tooth root exposure from occurring in the first place.

Prevention Techniques for Exposed Tooth Roots

Adhering to a thorough oral care routine can significantly decrease your chances of suffering with an exposed tooth root and nerve. Be sure to brush twice and floss once daily to ensure your gums and teeth stay healthy. Regular dental checkups and professional cleanings can help remove any leftover plaque, tartar buildup, and catch early signs of gum disease before it becomes a major issue.


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