What is Root Surface Decay?

Root surface decay is a condition in which soft, decay lesions, or cavities, develop close to or below the gum line. The lesions form due to present bacteria, which then leads to the formation of plaque.

Gum recession is the most common cause of root surface decay and can develop from gum disease, dental trauma, or aging.  When the root of a tooth is exposed, it becomes more susceptible to decay because it is made of dentin rather than the hard, protective enamel layer.

This allows the decay to quickly progress from the root surface all the way to the inside of the tooth.

Patients often don’t experience normal tooth decay symptoms like sensitivity to cold or toothaches since this decay develops at or below the gum line. Root surface decay is typically diagnosed through radiographs during a clinical exam.

Root decay progresses quickly and if left untreated, the decay can spread to the inside of the tooth causing infection in the pulp tissue and eventually leading to the tooth breaking off, leaving only the root.

Consult with your doctor about the best course of treatment for your condition and how to effectively practice proper oral hygiene to prevent future root surface decay from developing.

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