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Tooth Resorption | Causes | Types | Treatment

From teenage till the very end, we rely on one set of teeth to carry us through countless meals, smiles, and conversations. Yet, over time, our teeth betray us, losing to a process called tooth resorption. 

If you are worried about tooth resorption, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will talk about what is tooth resorption, its causes, symptoms, complications, and treatment options. 

What is Tooth Resorption?

Tooth resorption occurs when a tooth loses its structural integrity due to the loss of its enamel (upper layer of the crown), dentine (inner layer of the crown), cementum (outer layer of the root), root, or bone. It can be physiologic or pathologic. 

Physiologic resorption is a natural process. During the eruption of permanent teeth, primary roots resorb to make way for permanent teeth. Pathologic resorption occurs as a result of trauma, infection, or orthodontic treatment. Tooth resorption is considered to be a major cause of tooth loss. It is estimated that 5 to 10% of the general population experience it. 

What are the Types of Tooth Resorption?

Depending on the site of tooth material loss, tooth resorption can be classified as internal or external resorption. 

Internal Resorption:

Internal resorption occurs when the inner layer of the crown, the dentine, is inflamed and absorbed into the tooth canal. On X-ray, internal resorption is seen as a darkened area inside the tooth. It is less common than external resorption. 

External Resorption:

External resorption is when damage to the tooth can be seen over its surface in the form of pits or chips. On X-ray, it can be seen as a shorter height of the tooth or flattened cusps. It is way more common than internal resorption.

What Causes Tooth Resorption?

Key cells involved in the process of tooth resorption are odontoclasts. Their function is to dissolute tissues by forming resorption lacunae. However, this process of tooth resorption is triggered by certain factors. Some of them are, 

  1. Genetics – The genetic makeup of some people makes them more susceptible to tooth resorption, altering their response to pathologic stimuli.
  2. Trauma – Physical trauma to the tooth can strip off the outer layer of the root, cementum. It disrupts the root canal system and initiates resorption. 
  3. Infection of the pulp – Chronic inflammation due to caries or a periodontal infection can reach the pulp, initiating resorption. 
  4. Orthodontic tooth movement – Excessive or prolonged forces applied during orthodontic treatment can also lead to tooth resorption, especially over the root portion. 
  5. Hormonal Imbalances – Hormonal disturbances in the human body during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause can predispose them to dental resorption.
  6. Erosion – Prolonged exposure of teeth to acidic foods and drinks, or stomach acids can erode their external surface, leading to tooth resorption. 
  7. Periodontal Inflammation – Persistent inflammation of the structures supporting the tooth can also trigger tooth resorption.
  8. Bruxism – Habitual grinding or clenching of teeth (bruxism) can strip off the external layers of the teeth, leading to dentine exposure and, in some cases, tooth resorption.

What are the Signs & Symptoms of Tooth Resorption?

Tooth resorption does not have a fixed set of symptoms associated with it. However, it may manifest with a few vague symptoms. Some of the tooth resorption symptoms are, 

  • Pain and swelling around affected teeth.
  • Bleeding gums.
  • Abscess formation around affected teeth.
  • Pinkish or greyish hues in the crown part.
  • Increased mobility if root is involved.
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold foods. 
  • Hollow or brittle teeth.
  • Distorted shape or size of the crown, indicating trauma or infection. 

What are the Complications of Tooth Resorption?

If tooth resorption is not tended to promptly, it can lead to severe complications resulting in ultimate tooth loss. These complications are, 

  1. Severe pain – If you ignore the initial symptoms of tooth resorption, it can progress to severe pain, making you stay up all night.
  2. Infection – Infection can spread throughout the pulp and even to adjacent structures.
  3. Compromised aesthetics – Severe discoloration can lead to compromised aesthetics.
  4. Fractured tooth – Internal resorption can lead to hollowing or even fracturing of the tooth.
  5. Difficulty in chewing – External resorption changes the natural contours of teeth. So they do not occlude properly and make chewing difficult.
  6. Tooth loss – All these complications, if not treated, lead to exfoliation of natural teeth.

What is the Treatment of Tooth Resorption?

Tooth resorption treatment depends upon the area of the tooth affected. If dental resorption is diagnosed in its early stages, your dentist may remove and restore the affected area with a simple filling. 

If enamel or dentine is resorbed, they might consider tooth restorative options such as crowns or veneers. Whereas, if root is involved, they might suggest root canal therapy. If the damage is severe, it will have to undergo surgical extraction. After that, they might replace it using an implant or a bridge. 

How to Prevent Tooth Resorption?

Prevention is always better than treatment. To prevent dental resorption or any such condition of teeth, take care of your oral hygiene. Brush and floss regularly. Use antibacterial mouthwashes and treat any cavities or minor infections promptly. 

During physical activities or sports, wear mouthguards to protect your teeth. Additionally, if you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, share your concerns with your orthodontist. They might control the forces applied to prevent resorption. At last, schedule routine checkups with your dentist to detect any pathologies early and maintain a healthy oral environment.


To conclude the discussion, tooth resorption poses serious risks to your oral health. Whether triggered by trauma, infection, or inflammation, the consequences can compromise your smile and lower your confidence. However, with early detection and treatment, you can preserve the health of your teeth with minimal damage. 

If you suspect having dental resorption, consult our best dentist in Newton, NJ. We will carry out detailed examination and inspection to diagnose any resorption, and our best dentist in Newton, NJ will formulate an efficient treatment plan. So, without wasting time, contact us at Blairstown Smile Studio

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