The anatomy of a tooth begins with the outermost protective enamel layer, which surrounds a hard calcium-based dentin. Below the dentin are root canals containing sensitive nerve bundles, blood, and tissue. These canals exit out through the roots below the gum line and into the supporting jawbone. Protecting those roots below the tooth is a different calcium-based material called cementum.
Periodontal disease and trauma can cause damage to the cementum. While the material is able to self-generate to a certain extent, exposure due to gum recession or breakage can make that generation process too slow.
What are some of the potential dental problems caused by damaged cementum?
Increased Tooth Sensitivity
Sensitivity to hot and cold foods can happen for a few different reasons. Often, the protective enamel or dentin wears away or gets a hole, which exposes the interior root canal nerves to the temperatures of food. That nerve access can also happen from below the tooth.
Gum disease such as gingivitis can eventually cause the gums to start to recede away from the tooth. This removes some of the protection from the bottom structures including the cementum. The cementum isn't as strong as dentin and is even less capable of protecting the nerves from hot and cold foods.
Sensitivity born from this problem will likely be more painful than enamel-based sensitivity. The pain will also come from lower in the tooth due to the access route.
Along with protecting the root ends, cementum provides support for an important ligament that connects the tooth to the jawbone. Erosion of the cementum can weaken this ligament. Concurrent trauma or decay-related damage to the ligament can cause the tooth to become loose.
A tooth that loosens for this reason will likely require extraction. The existing roots can often be saved and sealed shut so that the sensitivity is no longer present but the living roots are still able to promote jawbone growth. Your dentist will also want to cure up any gum disease that potentially caused the problem in the first place before fitting you with a dental replacement.
If the periodontal disease is left untreated for a long period of time even after the cementum-related extraction, the jawbone can begin to suffer the brunt of the damage. This bone weakness can start to pull down the surrounding gums so that the cementum on those teeth becomes exposed.
This problem requires treatment with antibiotics to kill the gum disease. A bone graft might also be required depending on the severity of damage.
Talk to experts like Millcreek Dental Care for more information.Share