Root resorption, a condition in which the body internally dissolves the tooth’s structure, is common and natural in children, but troubling and unusual in adults.
In kids, this is how baby teeth are weakened and eventually fall out to make way for adult teeth. But in adults, root resorption can weaken otherwise perfectly healthy teeth. It’s like an autoimmune disease, and it can be puzzling and stressful to realize your body is attacking your own teeth.
There are two ways root resorption can develop in adults: internally or externally. Internal resorption is less common. External Cervical Resorption (ECR) begins with the breakdown of the exterior enamel of the tooth. The outside of the tooth might start to show pink spots where the damaging cells take hold. This escalates until it looks like a cavity has taken over the entire tooth.
What Is the Cause?
No one knows why root resorption occurs in adults. However, certain risk factors make you more susceptible to developing the condition.
If your teeth are exposed to excessive force, whether through teeth grinding (bruxism) or orthodontic work, this can initiate the condition. Also, if there was damage to the periodontal ligament (the connection between the tooth and the bone) this can cause it as well.
You Might Not Have Symptoms
The danger of ECR is that typically you won’t have symptoms in the beginning. It won’t start to cause discomfort until the resorption has reached the inner pulp. By this time, it might be too late to save the tooth.
For this reason, it’s important to attend your regular dental exams. Early treatment can save your natural tooth. One way your dentist can help is by eradicating the damaging tissue, whether by cleaning it out and replacing it with a filling or doing a root canal. In many cases, this can stop the spread of disease and keep the natural teeth intact.
When Implants Are Needed
If the tooth isn’t treated in time, it might be best to extract the affected teeth and replace them with dental implants. This can stop the spread in many cases. You may need an oral surgeon’s expertise either way, because often it’s hard to tell how far root resorption has gone without a surgical procedure to expose the problematic tissue fully.
At Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we have placed dental implants for patients with root resorption problems to restore their dental health and their smile. We can do the same for you. Contact us to set up a consultation so we can assess the extent of the root resorption progression and compile our best recommendations for your oral health.