Tooth root decay
Tooth root decay may also be called root cavities, root decay, or root caries. It is a potentially detrimental oral health problem that needs immediate treatment to prevent severe dental damage. In this article, you can learn more about what tooth-root decay is, why it happens, how it’s connected to gum disease and soft tissue recession, and what treatments are available to repair your teeth and soft tissue.
Causes of Tooth Root Decay
There are many reasons you may experience root caries or gum tissue recession. Some of the most common include:
- Poor oral hygiene – not brushing teeth and flossing teeth daily.
Aggressive brushing – brushing teeth too vigorously or using a hard-bristled toothbrush.
- Age – as people age, their gums typically recede exposing root surfaces.
Periodontal disease – also known as gum disease, this oral health concern increases the depth of periodontal pockets and leads to soft tissue recession, giving plaque and bacteria access to tooth roots.
- Genetics – periodontal disease, age-related gum recession, and weak tooth enamel often run in families.
- Diabetes – can weaken the immune system and increase soft tissue inflammation, leading to more severe and difficult to treat gum disease and soft tissue recession.
- Crooked teeth – misaligned teeth are more difficult to clean thoroughly and can increase your risk for gum disease.
- Tobacco use – smoking cigarettes or cigars, dipping, using chewing tobacco, or any kind of tobacco use can damage teeth, weaken enamel, cause try mouth, and increase risk for gum disease.
- Medications – many over the counter and prescription medications are known to cause dry mouth, which increases risk for all types of oral health concerns, including gum disease and caries.
- Trauma – injury to gums or teeth can allow bacteria to accumulate within cracks in the tooth, causing them to grow larger and spread below the gum line.
Symptoms of Tooth Root Decay
In some cases, patients don’t have symptoms at all related to root decay. In other cases, patients may experience a range of symptoms, including:
- An exposed root surface frequently becomes sensitive to heat, cold, and sweet foods and drinks.
- You may experience a dull, constant toothache or more severe, sharp tooth pain in the affected area.
- Pain when chewing.
- Swelling or redness in the gum tissue around one tooth.
- Tooth that feels loose.
- Break or crack in tooth enamel.
- Discoloration in tooth enamel.
- Gum tissue recession.
- Infection or sores in the gum tissue around the affected tooth.
Treatment for Tooth Root Decay
The appropriate treatment of receding gums and root caries depends on the reason for soft tissue recession and the extent and severity of the tooth decay. Some of the most common treatments recommended for decay in tooth roots and gum recession include:
- Periodontal Therapy – if the gum recession is caused by periodontal disease, the patient will need periodontal treatment from a dental hygienist, which usually starts with scaling and root planning. Plaque and tartar are removed from the surfaces of the tooth’s root. Periodontal treatment can help gum tissues heal and reattach to the tooth surface.
- Surgical Grafting – If gum recession is advanced, a gum graft where the gum tissue has receded may be indicated. Grafts may help protect the root surface from sensitivity and further decay.
- Dental Restoration – If tooth decay or root caries are present, the patient will need to have the decay removed and replaced with a filling or dental crown.
Tooth Root Decay Prevention
Regular brushing especially after meals at least twice a day.
Fluoride – Since all adults are susceptible to root decay, it is absolutely critical to understand that fluoride is not just for children. Fluoride can help to prevent, and in some cases, reverse cavities and can help decrease root sensitivity.
Eat nutritious and healthy meals avoiding sugars, sodas, alcohol, simple carbs like white bread and pasta.
Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleaning and exams.
Tooth Root Decay in Your Later Years Could Endanger Your Teeth
As we age we become more susceptible to dental diseases. A common but often initially unnoticed problem for seniors is root decay.
We’re all familiar with tooth decay in the crown, the visible tooth above the gum line. Bacteria feeding on leftover sugar in the mouth produce acid, which at high levels erodes the teeth’s protective enamel. This forms cavities and, if untreated, deeper infection within the tooth that could reach the bone via the root canals.
But gum recession (shrinkage), a common experience for people in their later years, can expose the root surfaces. As a result, the roots become much more susceptible to decay. And an ensuing infection could spread more quickly into the interior of the tooth than decay originating in the crown.
There are other things we can do to help prevent root cavities or limit their damage. We can apply fluoride varnish to strengthen the teeth and provide extra protection against cavities, or prescribe a fluoride rinse for use at home. We can also keep an eye out and treat periodontal (gum) disease, the main cause for gum recession.
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.