When your dentist mentions you have tooth resorption, many people have no idea what that means, since it’s not a condition that’s commonly talked about outside of the dental world. While a naturally occurring process for baby teeth, tooth resorption in adults is cause for concern.
#1. Tooth Resorption Is Your Body Rejecting Your Tooth
Tooth resorption refers to a type of dental injury where your body starts to reject your tooth as a means of self-defense. It results in the loss of parts of your teeth and can affect many areas of your tooth, such as your root, your tooth’s pulp, your dentin (the tissue under the enamel), and your cementum (which covers your root). It typically starts on the exterior of your tooth and moves inwards, though this isn’t always the case.
#2. There Are Two Kinds: Internal And External
Depending on where you’re experiencing loss of parts of your teeth, your tooth resorption may be internal or external.
Internal resorption is less common and people often can’t tell whether or not they have it, as it affects the interior of your tooth. Instead, your dentist will be able to find your internal resorption on dental X-rays, which will show dark spots where you’re missing internal tissue.
External resorption is a lot more common than internal resorption and it is easier to tell if you have it. It can affect any part of the exterior of your tooth, from your roots to your enamel. It can appear as chips or holes in your teeth, as well as shortened or flattened roots on dental X-rays.
#3. It’s Normal And Not Cause For Concern For Children
While tooth resorption is deeply concerning when it comes to your permanent teeth and can result in long-term damage, it’s just part of the developmental process for your baby teeth. It’s part of how your body makes room for your permanent teeth, by having the roots of the baby teeth undergo resorption.
#4. There Are Many Potential Causes
Tooth resorption can occur for any number of reasons. Internal resorption is most commonly caused by traumatic injuries, though it can also result from bacteria or chemical exposure. External resorption can be caused by asthma, genetics, age, malocclusion, prolonged orthodontic treatment, injuries to the mouth and teeth, and more.
The exact causes of tooth resorption aren’t something that are well understood as of yet, especially since it can be caused by so many different things.
#5. There Aren’t Always Clear Symptoms
As mentioned before, many people don’t even realize that they have internal tooth resorption until their dentist points it out on an X-ray. However, especially as the condition worsens, there are some common symptoms that you may notice, such as:
- Tooth pain
- Swollen red gums
- Holes in your teeth
- Chips on your teeth
- Unusual spacing between your teeth
- Discolored teeth, pink or dark
- Brittle teeth
#6. Untreated Tooth Resorption Leads To Many Complications
If you have tooth resorption, you don’t want to leave it untreated. As with most dental problems, leaving tooth resorption untreated can worsen the condition and lead to complications, such as:
- Crooked teeth
- Chipped teeth
- Missing teeth
- Holes in your teeth
- Gum recession
- Weakened teeth
- Loss of your tooth
#7. Diagnosis Depends On What Part Of Your Tooth Is Affected
As mentioned previously, it’s easier to diagnose external resorption than internal. This is because how tooth resorption is diagnosed depends on what part of your tooth is affected by it. Internal resorption can be diagnosed via dental X-rays and dentists noticing dark spots in your teeth. External resorption can usually be seen with the naked eye.
In both cases, your dental professional will examine your tooth in order to determine the damage caused and the extent of your resorption.
#8. Treatment Also Depends On What Part Of Your Tooth Is Affected
You’ll likely be relieved to hear that tooth resorption can be treated. What kind of treatment you receive will depend on what part of your tooth has been affected by it, as well as how extensive the resorption is. Treatment is meant to preserve as much of your natural tooth as possible, and includes:
- Root canals
- Gum surgery
- Tooth extraction
David G. Johnson, D.D.S. offers tooth resorption treatments. If you suspect you have tooth resorption, we can treat it. Contact us today to learn more.