What is Tooth Resorption?

Let us say your dentist has just told you that you are experiencing tooth resorption. Of course, you have questions, starting with what exactly this diagnosis means. Tooth resorption is not really as mysterious as it sounds. Resorption occurs throughout your entire body due to natural aging or a traumatic injury.
Tooth resorption specifically in dental terms refers to the inflammation and loss of the dentin of a tooth, the second layer under the enamel, or the cementum, which is the outer layer covering the tooth's roots. There are two kinds of resorptions with treatments for each type.

Internal Tooth Resorption

A dentist will identify internal resorption when the dentin or cementum becomes absorbed into the tooth canal, resulting in the inner and outer surfaces of the tooth to become inflamed. When a tooth experiences an injury, the tissue becomes inflamed and absorbed into the tooth root. This process eventually leads to a hollow tooth, which then becomes weak and more susceptible to damage and decay. Any injury to the tooth can result in internal resorption, which includes exposure to heat or chemicals, trauma, or a bacterial invasion of the sensitive pulp in the center of the tooth.
A reddish looking tint to the tooth is the first sign of internal resorption. A dentist will then take x-rays of the hollow tooth to find the dental lesions in the specific area affected.

External Tooth Resorption

External resorption is far more common yet still similar to internal resorption and can still be challenging to identify and diagnose as a separate issue. It can also happen concurrently with internal resorption. Trauma to the tooth usually starts the external resorption. Rapid orthodontic movement of the tooth, like braces, or an infection of the gums around the tooth are other causes. When either the crown or root of a tooth is damaged, it can result in an infection, tooth loss, shifting teeth, or other mouth and jaw problems.

Treatment Options for Tooth Resorption

It is important to visit your dentist as soon as you experience an injury or notice any signs of resorption. Early detection is quite beneficial for a successful recovery. Treatment options for tooth resorption will depend on the specifics of each situation. Your dentist may decide to perform a root canal treatment and then fill and seal the tooth. If the tooth resorption has advanced further, they may even have to extract the tooth. In the beginning stages of resorption, when the affected area is still small, your dentist can expose the damaged area with minor gum surgery and remove the infected cells that are causing the damage.

Like so many dental concerns, a successful preventative measure is to consistently brush and floss your teeth daily while complimenting your efforts with regular visits to your dentist for professional cleanings and checkups. Resorption can happen even if you take exceptionally good care of your teeth, especially from unexpected trauma or infection. If you participate in any sports, a straightforward way to prevent injury is to wear a mouthguard. If you do injure a tooth or think there might be an infection, see your dentist immediately.

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