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Causes and Treatment for Tooth Resorption

Smita Pandit Oct 3, 2018
Tooth resorption refers to the process wherein the tooth structure or a part of it gets damaged due to an attack by the specialized structures of the immune system. Scroll down to find out more about the causes, symptoms and treatment of this dental condition.
Dental resorption is actually a strange case of the body's own defense mechanism turning against a tooth. It occurs when the immune system perceives the affected tooth to be a threat and therefore considers it essential to destroy it. This condition may occur in event of an underlying tooth infection.
If left untreated, the infected tooth that is affected by resorption might even fall off. While root resorption refers to the loss of the root structure of the tooth, one is said to suffer from tooth resorption when the tooth structure gets damaged. In this article, we would be looking into the causes, symptoms and treatment of this dental condition.

Types of Resorption

Resorption can be internal or external in nature.

► External resorption
is the condition wherein the root is attacked from its exterior edges. When the root begins to dissolve, the base of the tooth becomes damaged and weak.

► Internal resorption
is characterized by inflammation in the pulp.


Though resorption is a natural process through which the primary teeth dissolve away, giving way to secondary teeth in growing children, it may become a cause of concern when a part of a permanent tooth is targeted by the body's living cells thereby causing damage. The living cells could damage the lining, top of the root canal or the pulp tissue.

► Pressure

Dental resorption can occur when a tooth that erupted in a wrong place presses against an adjacent secondary tooth. Chemical damage or pressure from heavy orthodontic devices can also cause resorption.

► Infection

Infection within the pulp as well as periodontal infection could also be responsible for causing internal and external root resorption respectively. Root resorption could occur when bacterial action causes the root to weaken, thereby making it susceptible.

► Impacted Wisdom Teeth

People suffering from impacted wisdom teeth are susceptible to this condition as well.

► Trauma

Resorption can also take place in event of progressive replacement of alveolar bone. Sometimes a blow to the face or an injury can cause a little damage to the root.
Under such circumstances, the body's defense mechanism may get activated and try to dissolve the pieces of the broken root. An overactive immune system may end up destroying the entire tooth in the process.

► Bruxism

Those who have a habit of grinding teeth might also suffer from this problem. The root of a tooth can get damaged due to tumors or cysts hidden beneath the gum line. This might be followed by the process of dental resorption.
Under such circumstances, the affected tooth may become wobbly or loose. This may also be accompanied by halitosis, discoloration of the affected tooth and tooth ache.


The treatment of this dental problem will depend on the type of resorption. If you ever feel that a tooth has become loose or wobbly, you must visit a dentist soon. If left untreated, the damage can be severe thereby causing the tooth to fall off. If you are suffering from internal resorption, dentists may suggest root canal treatment.
► Root canal procedure involves the creation of an opening or a small passage to access the root canal. After the root canal is enlarged, the damaged tissue from the pulp would be removed. All the infected material and the cells responsible for causing resorption would be sucked out. This would be followed by sealing the canal.
The opening of the tooth would be sealed with a filling. Usually a dental crown is fitted on the affected tooth for the purposes of tooth restoration.
► If the tooth has been seriously damaged due to external resorption, it might need to be extracted and replaced with dental implants. Dentists will try to save your tooth using the root canal procedure. The process of resorption will stop once root canal procedure is completed. Tooth extraction emerges as an option only when the tooth is badly damaged.
If any of your teeth seem to be wobbly or loose, get it checked by a dentist soon. Make sure that you pay attention to your dental health. After all, prevention is better than cure.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for the advice of a dentist.