Discovering Your Roots

Getting to the Root of the Problem(s)

While our roots are well-protected, they’re not indestructible! Several conditions can damage them. But we’re not just about problems—we also have some suggestions to keep your roots solid and intact for a lifetime.

  • Traumatic Injury

A blow, a fall from a bike, a sports injury—any trauma which can hurt your visible tooth can hurt your roots as well. And it’s not just accidents that cause harm. Cracks in the tooth caused by oral habits like chewing on ice, pencils, or other hard objects can lead to root fractures.

You can help prevent root injuries by wearing a mouth guard whenever you are engaged in contact sports or any physical activity that might cause damage to your face or mouth. If you have harmful oral habits, talk to Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis about how to break them. And if you do suffer a dental injury, see us as soon as possible to avoid more serious complications.

  • Bruxism

Bruxism, or tooth grinding, is most often an unconscious habit that takes place while you sleep. Grinding puts enormous pressure on teeth and their roots. The damage can be obvious, with cracked and worn crowns, but your roots can be affected, too. The strain of this constant pressure can stretch the periodontal ligament, causing loose teeth.

Night guards are one of the easiest ways to relieve pressure on individual teeth and roots. Your dentist can fabricate a night guard which will provide comfortable, effective protection for your teeth and jaw.

  • Root Infections

Any infection in the pulp of the tooth will affect the roots as well. Your dentist will examine you carefully to see if a root canal is advisable. In this procedure, injured or infected pulp is removed from the pulp chambers and the root canals, the tooth is cleaned and filled, and, usually, a crown caps the tooth afterwards.

  • Gum Recession

Finally, one of the best ways to protect your roots is to take care of the tissues surrounding them. A periodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of the gums, bones, and other tissues supporting the teeth.

Gums often recede as we age, leaving part of the root exposed. Gum disease, failure to brush and floss regularly, and heavy-handed brushing can also lead to gum recession. The newly revealed cementum is now exposed to the plaque and acids which cause cavities in our enamel, and, since it’s not as strong as enamel, cementum is more vulnerable to erosion and cavities progress more quickly.

When more severe recession takes place, the gums pull away from the teeth, creating pockets which become home to plaque and bacteria. Left untreated, infection and inflammation can develop, attacking teeth, connective tissue, and bone.

Talk to your periodontist about scaling and planing procedures for a deep cleaning of the root surface, or grafting procedures to replace the gum tissue which protects your roots and bones.

Healthy roots help you keep your teeth for a lifetime, so it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible if you have any symptoms of potential root or gum problems:

  • Constant pain in tooth, gums, or jaw
  • Pain when biting down
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Swelling or pain in the gums around a tooth
  • Receding gums

Do your part by keeping up with daily brushing and flossing, seeing Dr. Pope, Dr. Pickering, and Dr. Lewis for exams as recommended, and making an appointment at our San Mateo, CA office if you are feeling any pain or discomfort. Strong roots are essential to our oral health, and a lifetime of healthy smiles is something we’re all rooting for!

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