Tooth Resorption: What It Is, How It Is Caused And What Can Be Done To Treat It

If you have been diagnosed with tooth resorption, you are probably anxious to learn more about the condition, what caused it to occur and how it can be treated. Below is more information about resorption:

What is tooth resorption?

Tooth resorption is a dental condition characterized by the gradual disintegration of the bony structure of the teeth. Resorption is a normal physiological process in children, as they experience resorption when losing their primary ("baby") teeth. Without resorption, the roots of the primary teeth would never dissolve, and the permanent teeth would be blocked from emerging. Unfortunately, for adult sufferers of resorption, the permanent teeth are affected in the same manner as primary teeth.

The appearance of tooth resorption begins on either the inside or outside of the affected tooth, though the external form is more common. In ordinary instances of resorption, one tooth at a time is affected. Resorption rarely causes significant symptoms, such as pain or bleeding, in its early stages, and the only way it is detected in most instances is through dental x-rays or if the tooth becomes loose. Unfortunately, tooth extraction is often the only realistic treatment option at that advanced stage.

What causes tooth resorption?

While tooth resorption occurs due to the development of abnormal cells that cause destruction of the tooth, the causes of the condition are still difficult to pinpoint for many patients. However, researchers believe that one or more of the following causes are likely to be at work in individuals with resorption:

  • Tooth pressure - Force placed on teeth by other teeth, braces or other orthodontic appliances can lead to resorption.

  • Trauma to the mouth - A sharp blow to the mouth and teeth can cause internal or external tooth injury that predisposes the tooth to resorption.

  • Infections of the mouth - Resorption may be caused in some individuals who experience tooth pressure due to infections and inflammatory processes within the oral cavity.

  • Systemic illness - Certain unrelated diseases, such as thyroid conditions or the presence of nearby tumors, can contribute to the appearance of tooth resorption.

  • Intracoronal bleaching - The process of whitening discolored teeth from the inside-out, intracoronal bleaching has been implicated as a possible cause of resorption.

It is important to keep in mind that the exact cause of your tooth resorption may never be known, as most people who experience the above don't develop resorption.

How can tooth resorption be treated?

While some teeth with resorption cannot be saved, especially in advanced cases of external resorption, many cases can be resolved. Your dentist's treatment plan of choice for your resorption will depend on several variables, including internal or external origin, degree of advancement, and your personal wishes.

For internal tooth resorption, dentists will usually perform a root canal to remove all of the diseased areas of the tooth to prevent further deterioration. In external cases of resorption, the dentist will drill or cut away the affected part and fill the cavity with some type of permanent material, such as resin or cement. Of course, if treatment is not feasible due to the degree of involvement, then an extraction is required. This will create a necessity for dentures, bridges or implants to replace the lost tooth.

In order to prevent a recurrence of resorption in the same tooth or even another nearby tooth, your dentist may also use supplemental treatments to eliminate possible causes. Orthodontic appliances can relieve the pressure placed on a tooth by a neighboring tooth, for example. In addition, other options such as splinting a loose tooth affected by resorption may be implemented, giving time for new bone to grow around the tooth. For additional information, click to find out more.