What is Tooth Resorption?


It is not uncommon for patients to hear from a dental professional that they are experiencing tooth resorption. This diagnosis may come as a shock and leave patients with quite a few questions. Patients may not even know what tooth resorption means. Tooth resorption occurs when the body rejects its own tooth for protection or self-defense. In many cases, this takes place because of a traumatic injury or accident.


The term resorption means there is inflammation and loss of the tooth's dentin or the inner tissue below the tooth’s enamel and cementum. The enamel is the outer layer of the tooth, and the cementum is the outer layer of the tooth which covers the roots of the tooth. The following article will review different types of resorption and treatment options.


Internal Tooth Resorption

Patients with suspected tooth resorption should follow up with their dentist. The dental professional will examine the teeth. They will diagnose internal resorption when the dentin or cementum of the tooth is absorbed into the tooth canal. This results in inflammation of the tooth's inner and outer surfaces. Following the injury of a tooth, the tissue becomes inflamed and will absorb back into the root. Over time, this process results in the tooth becoming hollow. This makes the tooth weak and at high risk for damage and decay. Various types of injuries can cause internal resorption such as trauma, heat exposure, contact with chemicals, or when bacteria reach the pulp.


One of the first signs of internal resorption is a reddish tinge to the tooth. The dental professional typically orders dental X-rays of the teeth. This can aid in detecting if there are any dental lesions.


External Tooth Resorption

Another type of tooth resorption is external resorption. This is similar to internal resorption and can be difficult to diagnose. External resorption can even occur at the same time as internal resorption. This issue is usually caused by trauma to the teeth. Other causes may include braces or rapid orthodontic movement of the teeth, and an infection of the gums which surround the teeth. Damage to the outside root or crown of the tooth can result in tooth loss, infection, shifting teeth, and other serious issues associated with the mouth.



If a patient experiences any type of oral trauma or notices signs of resorption, it is critical to seek prompt attention from a dental professional. In order to ensure the best possible outcome, early detection and treatment is vital. The treatment methods for tooth resorption will vary based on the cause and specific details associated with the case. The dental professional may opt to perform a root canal treatment. This involves filling and sealing the tooth to prevent further damage and preserve the natural tooth. In cases of more severe tooth resorption, the tooth may need to be extracted. When resorption is identified in the early stages, a dental surgeon can expose the damaged area and remove affected cells.


Practicing good oral hygiene helps patients avoid issues such as tooth resorption. This includes at least twice daily brushing and flossing the teeth daily. Patients should also make regular visits to the dentist for an examination and professional cleaning. Unfortunately, tooth resorption can still occur. It can be difficult to avoid certain trauma, accidents, and infection. Patients who play contact sports should also consider wearing a mouthguard in order to protect their teeth. If the teeth are injured or patients notice early signs of an issue, they should follow up with their dentist as soon as possible. Prompt treatment can be critical in preserving the tooth.

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