Conditions,  Health,  Orthodontics

Root Resorption – Orthodontic Braces, Treatment, Causes, Meaning, What to Do

Key Facts

  • Root resorption is a dental condition where the tooth’s root structure begins to break down and be absorbed by the surrounding tissues
  • It can affect both primary (baby) teeth and permanent teeth
  • There are two main types of root resorption: internal and external
  • Root resorption can be caused by various factors such as trauma, orthodontic treatment, cysts, and tumors
  • Early diagnosis is crucial, as root resorption can lead to tooth loss if left untreated
  • Treatment options depend on the cause and severity of the condition and can range from monitoring the tooth to root canal therapy or tooth extraction

What is Root Resorption?

Root resorption is a process in which the body’s cells break down the root structure of a tooth and absorb it into the surrounding tissue. While this is a natural process for primary teeth to make way for permanent teeth, it is abnormal when it occurs in permanent teeth. There are two main types of root resorption:

  • Internal Root Resorption: This occurs when the root’s inner tissue, or pulp, begins to resorb the tooth from the inside out.
  • External Root Resorption: This type occurs when the root structure is broken down from the outside of the tooth.

Causes of Root Resorption

Several factors can contribute to the development of root resorption:

  • Trauma or Injury: An injury to the tooth can damage the ligaments and cells around the root, leading to resorption.
  • Orthodontic Treatment: The pressure applied to teeth during orthodontic treatment can sometimes lead to resorption, especially if the forces are too strong or applied for an extended period.
  • Cysts and Tumors: Cysts or tumors in the jawbone can put pressure on the roots of the teeth, leading to resorption.
  • Impacted Teeth: A tooth that is not able to erupt normally, such as an impacted wisdom tooth, can cause pressure on adjacent teeth, leading to root resorption.
  • Genetics and Hormones: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to root resorption, and hormonal imbalances might play a role in some cases.

Root Resorption as a Consequence of Orthodontic Treatment

Teeth root resorption often occur as a result of orthodontic treatment. Orthodontic treatment can potentially cause both types of root resorption (internal and external), although it is more commonly associated with internal root resorption.

There are several factors that can increase the risk of root resorption during orthodontic treatment.

  • The severity of the misalignment: More severe misalignment may require more aggressive treatment, which can increase the risk of root resorption.
  • The presence of gum disease: Gum disease can cause inflammation within the tooth, which can lead to root resorption.
  • The length of treatment: Longer treatment periods may increase the risk of root resorption.
  • The presence of certain medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune disorders, may increase the risk of root resorption.

To prevent root resorption during orthodontic treatment, it is important for patients to follow their orthodontist’s instructions carefully and to visit their orthodontist regularly for check-ups. It is also important to maintain good oral hygiene during treatment to reduce the risk of gum disease and other infections.
If root resorption does occur, treatment will depend on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. In some cases, the root structure may be able to regenerate on its own, while in more severe cases, a root canal or tooth extraction may be necessary.

Symptoms of Root Resorption

In many cases, root resorption may not present any noticeable symptoms in the early stages.
As the condition progresses, some signs and symptoms might include:

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Discoloration of the affected tooth
  • Swelling or redness of the gum around the affected tooth
  • Loosening of the tooth
  • Pain or discomfort (in advanced cases)

It is important to note that root resorption is often detected through routine dental X-rays before any symptoms are evident.

Treatments for Root Resorption

The treatment of root resorption depends on the cause, type, and severity of the condition.
Some of the treatment options include:

  • Monitoring: If the resorption is minimal and not progressing, the dentist may choose to monitor the tooth closely with regular X-rays.
  • Root Canal Therapy: In cases of internal root resorption, a root canal may be performed to remove the pulp tissue and stop the resorption process.
  • Orthodontic Treatment Modification: If resorption is due to orthodontic treatment, adjustments may be made to the treatment plan to alleviate the pressure on the affected tooth.
  • Surgical Intervention: In severe cases, or when resorption is due to cysts or tumors, surgical intervention may be necessary. This could include the removal of the cyst or tumor, or in some cases, extraction of the tooth.
  • Tooth Extraction: In advanced cases where the tooth cannot be saved, extraction may be the only option.

Bottom line

In conclusion, root resorption is a serious dental condition (usually potential complication of orthodontic treatment) that often requires timely intervention to prevent tooth loss. Regular dental check-ups are vital for early detection and management of this condition, as there are steps that patients and their orthodontists can take to minimize the risk. If you experience any symptoms such as tooth sensitivity, discoloration, or swelling, it is essential to consult a dentist for evaluation and appropriate treatment.

This article is complete and was published on January 8, 2021, and last updated on August 25, 2023.

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