Root Resorption

What is Root Resorption?

Root resorption is the process in which the body breaks down and absorbs tissue surrounding (or inside) a tooth. Although this is a rare phenomenon in adults, root resorption in children is natural and enables the roots of baby teeth to dissolve so that permanent teeth can serve as replacements.

Why Does Resorption Happen in Adults?

We often do not know the cause of root resorption in permanent teeth, but there are several factors which could act as contributors. Pressure and tension are normal stressors that can lead to breakdown of tissue; occasionally, years after excessive orthodontic force, a tooth may experience resorption. Likewise, trauma to a tooth may damage periodontal (gum) ligaments resulting in the beginnings of resorption. Extreme teeth grinding and tooth-bleaching have been associated with the initiation of resorption as well. The good news? Most patients with these risk factors do not develop any indicators of root resorption.

What Does Root Resorption Look Like?

It is common for root resorption to begin on the outside of a tooth near the gum line and extend into the root structure approaching, but not commonly communicating with, the pulp tissue. This process is called external cervical resorption (ECR) and has also been referred to as “extra canal invasive resorption.” Pink spots in the enamel of a tooth near the gum line are an indicator that ECR is taking place. The eventual effects of this type of resorptive process appear as tiny pinkish colored holes, or cavity-like areas, in the portion of the tooth near the gum line.

Not nearly as common as ECR, internal resorption begins in the root of the tooth and is often due to chronic pulp inflammation. Because resorption is usually asymptomatic, most patients are unaware of their condition until well into the resorption process.

How is Root Resorption Treated?

If the initial pink spots on the tooth’s enamel are identified and treated in time, no further dental care may be necessary. If, however, the enamel has experienced enough damage that cavities have resulted, root canal therapy may be needed. Extraction and dental implant procedures are required in the rare case that the resorptive process is extensive and the tooth is unable to be repaired.

Since resorption is usually asymptomatic, detecting it’s presence in the initial stages is not always easy. Nonetheless, early treatment is crucial when it comes to saving the tooth and, as endodontists, our primary concern is to save your natural teeth. Call us at the first sign of root decay or resorption so we can safely and gently provide you with the best possible care for maintaining your oral health well into the future.

Is Root Resorption Painful?

Surprisingly, no. Root resorption is usually asymptomatic. If you are experiencing pain, another cause is likely the culprit and we encourage you to call us today to schedule a consultation. Newport Beach Office Phone Number 949-640-0020

If you would like to learn more about root resorption, click here to watch a video from the American Association of Endodontists.

For a more in-depth look at external cervical resorption (ECR) or “extra canal invasive resorption,” please read the article below: