What is root resorption?
Root resorption happens every day in children – it is the body’s natural process of (re)absorbing tissue. In the case of a child’s mouth, it is what helps them to lose their baby teeth and, in fact, what allows them to have effective orthodontic treatment. The body resorbs tissues that connect the baby teeth to the mouth, and the tooth is then able to fall out. But when we see resorption in adults, it is cause for concern.
Why does resorption happen?
We don’t always know why resorption occurs. Sometimes it is due to trauma to a tooth or severe grinding, sometimes due to overly aggressive orthodontic treatment (too much force was applied to the teeth with braces), but, often, we simply don’t know the cause, and must instead focus on the treatment.
External Cervical Resorption (ECR)
When resorption starts on the outside of the tooth and works its way in, usually up where the tooth meets the gum line, this is known as external resorption. It is the most common type. Patients may see pink spots at first where the enamel is being destroyed, or they may be asymptomatic. If left untreated, this often results in cavities and, eventually, the decay will start to affect the tooth pulp as well. Treatment for ECR typically includes root canal therapy. However, if the damage is too extensive, the tooth may need extraction and replacement with a dental implant.
Less common than ECR is internal resorption, which involves the resorption of tissue starting in the root of the tooth. It is often thought to be due to chronic pulp inflammation, and may be asymptomatic. Early treatment is important in order to the save the tooth.
As endodontists, our main goal is always to save your natural teeth, and do so safely and with great care to ensure the best oral health for you in the future. Regular x-rays with your dentist and a call to our office at [PHONE link = “true”] at the first sign of root decay or resorption will help us meet that goal!