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Tooth Decay on the Root Surface

July 19, 2015 in Dentistry,Periodontal Treatment,White Fillings by mccarl_dental

Tooth decay on the root surface of teeth is also called root decay or root caries. It is an important dental problem that needs immediate treatment.

Root caries on lateral incisor, canine and first bicuspid

Root caries on lateral incisor, canine and first bicuspid

While many people are fortunate enough to have cavity resistant tooth enamel, few people have cavity resistant root surface. When gums recede below the enamel line of the tooth or pull away from the tooth, root surface is exposed. The root surface does not have a hard protective enamel covering like the crown of the tooth. This unprotected surface is very vulnerable to decay. Root caries do not occur unless the root of the tooth is exposed or there is loss of attachment of the gum to the tooth. An exposed root surface frequently becomes sensitive to hot, cold and sweet foods and drinks.

Causes of Gum Recession and Root Caries
Poor oral hygiene – not brushing teeth and flossing teeth daily
Brushing teeth too vigorously or using a hard bristle tooth brush
Age – as people age, their gums typically recede exposing root surfaces
Periodontal disease known as gum disease
Genetics – periodontal disease runs in families
Crooked teeth – misaligned teeth are more difficult to clean thoroughly and can make you more prone to gum disease
Smoking cigarettes or cigars, dipping, using chewing tobacco or any kind of tobacco use
Medication that causes dry mouth
Radiation treatment for head and neck cancer
Trauma to gums or teeth

Treatments for Receding Gums and Root Decay
The appropriate treatment of receding gums depends on the reason for recession and the extent and severity of the decay.

Use a soft bristle or electric toothbrush. Our dental hygienists teach dental patients how to brush teeth to clean tooth surfaces and gums thoroughly and prevent further gum recession. This will not repair existing damage but will hopefully prevent additional gum recession.

Excellent oral hygiene at home and routine cleaning by a dental hygienist and dental examinations.

If the gum recession is caused by periodontal disease, the patient will need periodontal treatment by a dental hygienist that usually starts with scaling and root planning. Plaque and tartar are removed from the surfaces of the root and teeth. Periodontal treatment can help gum tissues heal and reattach to the tooth surface.

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 decay.

Tooth colored fillings can repair this root caries before it becomes too advanced

Tooth colored fillings can repair this root caries before it becomes too advanced

Root caries on a lower molar

Root caries on a lower molar

If tooth decay or root caries are present, the patient will need to have the decay removed and replaced with a filling or crown. At McCarl Dental Group, we have not used amalgam fillings for more than 25 years. We use tooth colored composite filling material to fill a cavity after removing tooth decay.  Dental fillings should not be visible when you smile or talk.


June 14, 2010 in Dentistry,White Fillings by McCarl Dental Group

A filling is a dental restoration that is most commonly needed when tooth decay has caused a hole or cavity to form on a tooth surface. Fillings can also repair a chipped tooth or damage from grinding that causes the tooth surface to become worn down. Fillings repair teeth and stop tooth decay. If you do not get the tooth repaired, the cavity will get worse and lead to more severe problems, potentially including painful infection or tooth abscess and ultimately, bone loss. There is almost no risk involved in having a cavity filled. It is important to start treatment before tooth decay becomes worse. More severe decay may cause pain and tooth loss and may require a crown, root canal, or tooth removal (extraction).

In most cases, your dentist will use a drill to remove tooth decay. Once all decay is removed, your dentist will determine the type of tooth restoration that is most appropriate based on the size and location of the cavity. If the cavity is too large to restore the tooth with a filling, a crown may be necessary.

As with many dental procedures, fillings are restorative (purpose is to repair teeth) but also cosmetic. Dental fillings should blend in and look the same as your natural teeth. Old silver amalgam fillings can be distracting and make a tooth look darker than the rest of your smile.  The most attractive fillings are the ones you can’t see when you speak or smile. At McCarl Dental Group we use aesthetic composite fillings which are white fillings that match the color of your teeth. Composite resin is tooth-colored material used to fill a cavity after removing tooth decay. Fillings can last many years. It is important to replace worn or cracked fillings because tooth decay can occur beneath a filling that does not have a tight seal.

If your dentist used local anesthetic, your lips and gums may remain numb for a few hours until the numbing medicine wears off. Be careful not to chew on your lip or cheek while that area is numb. A tooth with a new large filling may be sensitive to heat and cold for days to weeks. We always check your bite carefully after filling a tooth but minor adjustments may be necessary to ensure a perfect bite. This takes only a few minutes and there is no charge. Simply call us to schedule a convenient time for a quick adjustment – there is no additional charge. If you still have sensitivity after the adjustment of the height of the filling, try Sensodyne or other toothpastes that may help decrease temporary sensitivity.

Please visit our dental office in Millersville and Greenbelt Maryland for state of the art dental care.

The majority of dental patients who visit McCarl Dental Group live in College Park, Lanham, Seabrook, Bowie, New Carrollton, Laurel, Greenbelt, Severna Park, Annapolis, Crofton, Crownsville and Millersville Maryland.

8601 Veterans Hwy, Suite 101, Millersville, MD 21108 USA
Dr. Clayton McCarl, Jr. Millersville, MD cosmetic, restorative, & preventive dentistry.
28 Ridge Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770 USA
Dr. Clayton McCarl, Jr. Greenbelt, MD cosmetic, restorative, & preventive dentistry. (301) 474-4144