Root Resorption: What Is It, and What Can Be Done?


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Root resorption is a generally uncommon problem where your tooth’s structure is actually eaten away. Although resorption is a natural process that happened to all of us when we were kids (think about shedding your primary teeth and getting permanent teeth), root resorption shouldn’t occur in adult teeth. How does root resorption happen, and what can you do about it?

Inflammatory Process Removes Layers of Your Tooth

This inflammatory process essentially affects your tooth’s structure—it can begin on the inside, but typically this process starts on the outside. Your body begins to absorb the outer layer of your tooth’s root, called cementum. Then the inner layer of your tooth, called dentin, is affected. Eventually the ligaments that help secure your tooth are affected. Root resorption is easily seen on an x-ray as a dark spot, but without an x-ray, it can be difficult to identify.

Risk Factors for Root Resorption

There are numerous factors that could increase your risk for root resorption, but it’s important to remember that the risk factors won’t always lead to resorption. In fact, many patients with these risk factors don’t experience root resorption, while other patients with no risk factors may experience this condition.

Risk factors include:

 Trauma to the tooth. This could be from an accident or decay, but if the tooth has experienced trauma to the ligaments, this could begin the resorption process.

 Teeth grinding. Bruxism, better known as teeth grinding, causes damage to your tooth’s ligaments due to excessive pressure. This can cause inflammation and damage to the teeth.

 Cavities, genetic factors, or nutritional deficiencies. All of these can be considered risk factors for root resorption. It’s always important to visit your dentist so that he or she can notice root resorption before it progresses!

What Treatments Are Available?

Catching root resorption early is crucial to its successful treatment. Unfortunately, many patients are too late getting to the dentist to diagnose this problem. Fortunately, dentists can try to save your tooth should root resorption be a problem. You have several options to correct root resorption and repair the damage.

If the destruction is minor, your dentist may be able to remove the affected portion of your tooth and repair the affected area with a filling. If your root resorption is extensive and has affected the dentin (inner layer) of your tooth, you may need root canal therapy in order to save your tooth and remove the affected pulp. In some advanced cases, the tooth may not be able to be saved and will require extraction. If an extraction is necessary, you can talk with your dentist about cosmetic dentistry options like dental implants to replace the tooth.

Root resorption can be alarming, but if caught early, your dentist can initiate successful treatment to save your tooth. Schedule bi-yearly visits at your local dentist’s office to ensure your teeth are healthy and catch root resorption before it become a big problem for your smile. You can save your teeth and smile big despite root resorption in adult teeth!

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Root Resorption: What Is It, and What Can Be Done?
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Root resorption can be alarming, but if caught early, your dentist can initiate successful treatment to save your tooth. Schedule bi-yearly visits at your local dentist’s office to ensure your teeth are healthy!

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Marcus Hoang
Marcus Hoang

Dr. Rex Hoang is a family & cosmetic dentist in Washington D.C.. For more information on Dr. Hoang, visit www.dcdentalspa.com.

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