Our teeth have two parts. There’s the top, called the crown, which is made of highly attractive enamel. The enamel is highly attractive, and it’s durable, capable of holding up to the daily stresses of exposure, including attacks by acid from food, drink, and oral bacteria.
But in super eruption (also called overeruption), your teeth emerge too much from the jawbone and expose not only the crown, but some of the root as well. The root isn’t as resilient to oral decay, so if it’s showing you’re more likely to experience tooth decay. And with less of the tooth in the bone to secure the tooth, it’s more likely to be loose and get knocked out.
But why do teeth become super erupted? And how can super eruption be prevented or treated?
What Causes Super Eruption?
Tooth emergence, called eruption, is controlled by different forces that seek to balance one another. The bone pushes on teeth, causing the teeth to emerge until they meet opposition from opposing teeth. This opposition keeps them from erupting too far.
But there are some situations where the forces on your teeth aren’t properly balanced, allowing teeth to erupt further than they’re supposed to. Some of the more common ones include:
- Wear or damage to teeth
- Lost teeth
- Poorly designed restorations
- Bad bite
When people ate a lot of coarse foods, often made even more coarse by the presence of millstone particles in their bread, teeth wore down a lot more than they do now. In fact, this is why ancient people didn’t have many cavities–their teeth wore down faster than bacteria could decay them. As teeth wore down, more and more of the teeth would emerge to maintain contact between teeth necessary for chewing, which made supereruption common.
This level of wear is unusual in modern people, but it does happen, especially if you tend to grind your teeth (bruxism).
These days, a more common cause of super eruption is when you lose a tooth and don’t replace it. Not only will the teeth on either side of that missing tooth drift, but the opposing tooth can super erupt now that it has no opposition. This is another important reason for getting a dental implant when you lose a tooth–preventing super eruption of the opposing tooth.Dental restorations that aren’t designed to create the proper opposition can lead to supereruption. If they’re not providing the proper opposition, they can cause their opposite tooth to supererupt. Or if they cause an early contact, they might prevent other teeth from contacting, which can cause them to supererupt.
But if you have a bad bite, you might have this problem already: your teeth aren’t contacting properly, which means some of them aren’t getting the opposition they need to stay in place.
Symptoms of a Super Erupted Tooth
How do you know if you have a super-erupted tooth or teeth? Here are some things to look for:
- Tooth sticks up higher than neighbors
- Tooth sensitivity
- Gums are level, but a darker tooth surface is visible
- Tooth wobbles more
If most of your teeth still have opposing teeth, but you’ve lost one, you might notice that the tooth without opposition sticks up higher than its neighbors. This tooth is super erupting. If left alone it will only get worse.
As the tooth emerges more and more from the jawbone, it exposes the tooth root. This makes the tooth more sensitive to heat, cold, and pressure. It will also make your tooth vulnerable to root cavities. These are hard to treat, and can more readily lead to tooth loss.
Receding gums can also expose your tooth root. If you see the darker surface of the tooth below, you may have receding gums or a super erupted tooth. If your gums are level and healthy (not red, inflamed, or bleeding), then super eruption is more likely to be the reason why your root is exposed.
All natural teeth should have some wobble, but if one or more teeth wobble more than others (or more than they used to), you should suspect gum disease or super eruption.
Treating a Super Erupted Tooth
If you have a tooth that is sticking up too high, we can help get that tooth in line. If caught soon enough, fixing the bite or replacing a lost tooth might be adequate to get the supererupted tooth back in line, but most of the time, once a supererupted tooth is high enough that you can tell, it will require braces to move it back into the jaw.