What is Tooth Resorption & How is it Treated?

What is Tooth Resorption?

A dental injury which leads to loss of a part or parts of a tooth is known as tooth resorption. It may affect many parts of the tooth including:

  • Interior pulp
  • Root
  • Dentin
  • Cementum

Resorption of tooth starts from outside and moves inward. It can lead to infection, crooked tooth, tooth loss, and damage to the teeth, gums, and jaw.

Resorption is a normal process in primary or baby teeth. As the child grows the roots of the baby teeth undergo resorption to make way for the permanent teeth.

Tooth resorption may not always present a clear set of symptoms. In many, it goes unnoticed for years. As the resorption worsens the symptoms develop.

What is Tooth Resorption & How is it Treated?

The symptoms of tooth resorption are:

  1. Dark and pinkish discoloration
  2. Swelling and redness of gums
  3. Pain stemming from the root, crown, or inside of the tooth
  4. Unusual spacing between the tooth
  5. Brittle teeth
  6. Cavity-like holes in the tooth

Types of Resorption and their Causes

Tooth resorption is classified depending on where it occurs.

Internal Resorption

In internal resorption, the inside of the tooth is affected. Compared to external resorption, it is less common and most commonly affects men. It is also common in those who have received extensive oral surgery such as tooth transplantation.

Internal resorption is caused by physical injury to the tooth, or due to swelling in the inside of the tooth by an untreated cavity.

As the internal resorption affects the internal tissue, many people remain unaware about it.(1) Some observe pinkish tinge on the tooth which shows that the tissue inside is affected. It is detected by a dentist on X-ray during a routine dental examination.(2)

External Resorption

This is a common type of tooth resorption. It affects the outside of the tooth from root to the cementum on the outside.

It is caused due to trauma to the tooth, rapid orthodontic movement of the teeth, or from the infection of the gum space.

Diagnosis of Tooth Resorption

Diagnosis depends on the part of the tooth affected.

The internal resorption is visible in the X-ray and when this happens the dentist enquires about the dental history, past injury or oral procedure which might have affected the tooth.

A physical examination of the tooth is done which involves touching it with heat and cold and taking X-ray for a better understanding of the resorption and look into the damage, it might have caused.

External resorption is more visible and therefore easier to diagnose. Other diagnosis procedures are similar to those of internal resorption.

Treatment of Tooth Resorption

The treatment type depends on the part of the tooth affected and the extent of the damage.

The treatment is focussed on preserving the remaining part of the tooth, which has experienced loss and removing the damaged part.

The various treatment options for tooth resorption are:

  • Root canal
  • Tooth removal
  • Crown
  • Gum surgery

In the early stages, the affected area is small and minor surgery can help remove the cells causing damage. Early diagnosis is a key factor in the successful management of the resorptive lesion.

Tooth resorption can be a cause of long-lasting damage or loss of the tooth. It gets noticed when the disease has reached a serious stage. The complications are common and can lead to permanent loss of tooth if not treated.

It is therefore important to pay close attention to any changes in the spacing as well as an unusual pain and appearance of teeth and gums.

Dental resorption can best be prevented by regular dental visits for cleaning and examination. Earlier the condition is detected proper and better is the treatment.

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