What is Resorption, and Why You Shouldn’t Delay Treatment  

When parts of your tooth begin to dissolve due to irritation or trauma, this is known as resorption. It’s your body’s way of rejecting the tooth, much like it does with baby teeth. Since baby teeth are eventually replaced with permanent teeth, their roots end up dissolving. This allows the baby teeth to fall out and make room for permanent teeth. Resorption can happen in adults either internally or externally. It’s important to seek treatment for this type of dental problem in order to reduce the risk of tooth loss or widespread infection. Knowing more about resorption can help you understand what it is, why it occurs, and how it’s treated.

Resorption Types

Internal resorption happens when the inner part of the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves becomes bigger. This causes the tooth to dissolve from the inside rather than the outside.

External cervical resorption occurs when the tooth starts to dissolve in the area where it meets the gums rather than from the inside. This type of resorption is more common than internal resorption.

External apical resorption is the process that causes baby teeth to fall out as the roots dissolve. However, it can happen to adult teeth in some cases.


Causes of Resorption

The causes of resorption can vary, depending on the type that occurs. Internal resorption can happen due to tooth infections or trauma, such as when a cavity is left untreated or when an injury leads to swelling inside the tooth. In some cases, internal resorption occurs without any known cause.

External cervical resorption can happen due to dental trauma or other causes, such as orthodontic treatments. Dental trauma or injuries can cause bone or tissue loss and swelling around the affected tooth. Tooth bleaching or whitening, tooth grinding, and wearing braces or other orthodontic appliances for a long time can also cause external resorption to occur.

External apical resorption in adults often occurs due to an abscess.


Signs of Resorption

It’s possible to have resorption occur without experiencing any symptoms. If you have internal resorption, the most common sign is a pinkish discoloration in the affected tooth. When you have dental X-rays taken as part of an exam, dental hygienists might notice dark areas that indicate internal resorption as well.

External resorption can cause noticeable symptoms to occur, such as abnormal space between teeth, holes in teeth that resemble cavities, and red, swollen gums. Other signs of external resorption include teeth that easily chip and pain inside the tooth, at the crown, or at the root. When you seek help for resorption, endodontists can check your teeth for visible signs of this problem and take X-rays as needed.


When to Seek Treatment

If you’re experiencing any signs of resorption, you should make an appointment to have the affected tooth checked. Delaying treatment can lead to severe complications, such as a serious infection, weakened teeth, root recession, pain, crooked teeth, and tooth loss. Having your tooth examined helps ensure that you receive timely treatment for resorption before severe damage occurs. Keep in mind that seeking treatment earlier helps improve your chance of being able to save your tooth instead of needing a tooth extraction. When you put off treatment, your tooth can become damaged enough to require removal.


Treatment for Resorption

Different types of treatment are available for resorption, depending on how severe it is. When internal or external resorption is caught early, they can usually be treated with a root canal. This endodontic procedure involves removing infected or decayed material from inside the tooth and sealing it to prevent additional decay or infection. Root canals can provide effective treatment for resorption as long as damage to the tooth isn’t severe.

When resorption causes serious damage, treatment might involve a tooth extraction. This is done when the tooth can’t be saved through root canal therapy or other procedures. A tooth extraction involves removing the affected tooth, which leaves a gap behind, unless you have a dental implant or other type of restoration done.

If you have a root canal, keep in mind that this is a common procedure that’s safe and effective for resorption. Endodontists open up the tooth, then clean it out in order to clear up infections and prevent more resorption from occurring. The treated tooth is then sealed with a dental crown to keep it safe. Once this procedure is done, follow your endodontist’s instructions for root canal care while it heals.


If you need treatment for resorption, please contact Largo Endodontics for an appointment with our endodontist. Dr. Ernest Rillman can evaluate the affected tooth and determine the best type of treatment for it.