What Is Resorption and What Can I Do About It?



If you've never heard of tooth resorption, you're not alone. The condition is not a common one, and if you're lucky, it's not something that will ever happen to you. If it does, however, you might be the last one to know.

The condition is one in which your body attacks its own teeth, eroding them either from the inside out or from the outside in, and it often causes no symptoms whatsoever. In other words, your teeth could be eating themselves away without your ever being the wiser until your dentist discovers the problem or the affected tooth itself begins to wobble inside your mouth.

Internal Tooth Resorption

Internal resorption occurs when the tooth's pulpal walls and dentin resorb inside the root canal. The process sometimes causes the affected tooth to acquire a pinkish appearance. While the disorder can result from trauma, this is not always the case, and in many cases, the original cause never does make itself known. If your dentist discovers the condition early enough, however, there are things that he can do to save that tooth.

External Tooth Resorption

External tooth resorption is the same process by which a person loses his baby or primary teeth, at which time it exists as a perfectly natural process. When resorption affects your secondary teeth, however, there's nothing normal about it. Some have likened the condition to an autoimmune disease in which the body misguidedly attacks what it believes to be a threatening alien object. In this case, your body sees the affected teeth as some sort of foreign invaders.

Whereas internal tooth resorption takes place inside the root canal, the external variety concerns an attack by the body's living cells against the root of the target tooth. The damage often first appears as microscopic indentations on the root's surface. Without the proper treatment, this can progress to the point of destroying the root entirely.

The causes of external tooth resorption include:

  • Unnatural pressure on the surface of the root.
  • Trauma.
  • A chronic inflammatory condition.
  • The eruption of a misplaced tooth in the root's path.
  • Occlusal overload.
  • Fast-growing tumors or cysts.
  • Improper tooth reimplantation.

There have been times when the pressure of braces against the teeth have led to tooth resorption some years after the fact. In truth, anything that forces the teeth to submit to unnatural or unexpected stresses could be to blame. Habitual tooth grinding falls into this category, as do certain dental procedures and even bleaching methods.

Recently, some researchers have discovered a potential connection between tooth resorption and such conditions as asthma or various endocrine system disturbances, but the link is likely to be a weak one. However, many cases of tooth resorption do appear to have a genetic basis which some researchers propose to be as high as 70 percent. Therefore, if a close family member has suffered from the condition, your chances of developing it too would appear to be that much higher. Furthermore, if you have suffered from tooth resorption in the past, you could be far more likely to experience the problem again in the future.

Saving a Tooth from Resorption

Any success in treating tooth resorption depends in large part on how far the condition has progressed. Small lesions often respond well to the removal of any damage-causing tissue cells followed by repair with filling material. Orthodontia to move the tooth outward by degrees can also help by allowing the buildup of new bone behind the problem tooth prior to gum surgery. In the case of internal resorption, root canal treatment will often succeed in repairing the tooth.

It also helps to realize that many cases of tooth resorption progress in a leisurely manner. Some barely worsen at all, and in the earliest stages, they may require nothing more than close watching. Even in the later stages of this disorder, it is often possible to slow or reverse the damage. Of course, if the situation has become sufficiently severe, extraction may be your only option.

This is not always the case, particularly if the problem is discovered early and acted upon promptly. Nevertheless, early detection is critical to the successful treatment of tooth resorption, so if you suspect any problems in this regard, contact Dr. James White as soon as you can. He can diagnose the condition and treat it before it gets any worse. Don't delay. Call Dr. White today.