Resorption on the Rise? Learn More About Causes and Prevention

Dissolving tooth


Your body can reject your teeth due to trauma or other causes, resulting in resorption. This process occurs when a tooth dissolves from the inside or outside. At Largo Endodontics, our endodontist has seen an increase in cases of resorption. Since this can lead to permanent tooth loss or other problems without treatment, it’s important to be aware of the causes and know when to seek help.

What Causes Resorption?

Resorption can happen internally or externally. In fact, there are a few different types, including:

  • Internal resorption: Teeth dissolve from inside as the inner part becomes enlarged.
  • External apical resorption: Tooth roots dissolve in baby teeth, but this can also happen in adult teeth.
  • External cervical resorption: Tooth dissolves from the outside where it touches the gums.

Infections and injuries can cause internal resorption to occur. Getting hit in the mouth, for example, can cause the inside of your tooth to become swollen. Tooth infections can develop when tooth decay isn’t treated, raising your risk of resorption.

In adult cases of external apical resorption, abscesses are a common cause. These are signs of a bacterial infection that requires treatment.

Trauma typically causes external cervical resorption. This includes accidents and injuries, as well as tooth grinding and damage from orthodontic treatments. Having braces on for long periods of time, for example, can lead to resorption. Injuries to a tooth can cause the surrounding area to become swollen. Trauma can also lead to a loss of bone or tissue in the affected area, which can result in resorption from the outside.

How to Lower the Risk of Resorption

With trauma being a common cause of resorption, it’s important to treat your teeth with care. You might not be able to prevent sudden accidents and injuries from happening, but you can take steps to lower your risk of tooth damage and trauma. Doing this can help reduce the risk of having resorption occur. The following are a few tips for protecting your teeth.

Don’t Use Your Teeth as Tools

Your teeth are strong, but they’re not meant to be tools for tearing open bags or doing other tasks. Never use your teeth this way, since this can easily lead to cracked or chipped teeth. Using your teeth as tools can cause damage that leads to swelling and tissue loss, which increases your risk of resorption. Always use scissors or other appropriate tools instead.

Don’t Chew on Ice or Hard Foods

Chewing on ice might seem harmless. However, this can also lead to tooth damage and a risk of resorption. Whether it’s large ice cubes or small pieces of chipped ice, avoid biting down on them. Chewing on ice can cause dental trauma, which can result in external resorption. The same goes for hard foods, such as pieces of hard candy.

Choose Orthodontic Treatment Carefully

Some orthodontists offer speedy treatments as a convenience for those who need braces or other orthodontic devices. Having these treatments done or going to an unlicensed orthodontist can put you at a higher risk of resorption. You might end up with orthodontic devices that fit poorly, or you might wear them longer than you should. This can cause trauma to your teeth, which can result in resorption. Always go to a licensed orthodontist for proper treatment.

Wear a Mouthguard

Mouthguards can protect your teeth from accidents and injuries if you play sports. This can help lower your risk of internal or external resorption due to tooth injuries.

When to Seek Treatment for Resorption

You might not have any obvious signs of resorption, especially with internal resorption. In these cases, dental X-rays often show evidence that this is occurring. You’re more likely to have symptoms with external resorption. These may include tooth pain, holes in the affected tooth, and an unusual amount of space between your teeth. Other signs might include swollen, reddish gums in the affected area and teeth that chip or crack easily.

You should seek care if you have any signs of resorption, since these can also be signs of other tooth problems. Our endodontist can evaluate the affected tooth to make a diagnosis. Keep in mind that without treatment, you have a higher risk of losing your tooth or ending up with a more serious infection.

Treatments for resorption vary based on type and severity. You might need a root canal if resorption is found early enough. If you’ve already had a root canal, you might need retreatment instead. Severe cases sometimes require tooth extraction, but seeking help as early as possible may help prevent this.

If you have tooth pain, swollen gums, or other signs of resorption, contact Largo Endodontics for an appointment. Dr. Ernest Rillman, our Board-certified endodontist, can check your tooth and determine the best type of treatment.