tooth root resorption

Tooth root resorption is a pathological process characterized by the breakdown and loss of the root structure of a tooth. This condition, while not exceedingly common, can have significant implications for dental health if not properly managed. In this article, we delve into the various aspects of tooth root resorption, including its types, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention strategies.


Types of Tooth Root Resorption

Tooth root resorption is generally categorized into two primary types: internal and external resorption.


Internal Resorption

Internal resorption occurs within the tooth. This condition often starts in the pulp chamber and progresses outward, affecting the dentin and, eventually, the root structure. Internal resorption can be asymptomatic initially but may lead to noticeable signs such as discoloration of the tooth or a “pink tooth” appearance due to the vascular granulation tissue filling the resorption cavity.


External Resorption

External resorption, on the other hand, begins on the outer surface of the tooth. This type can be further subdivided into several categories based on its cause and presentation:

  • Surface Resorption
  • Inflammatory Resorption
  • Replacement Resorption (Ankylosis)
  • Cervical Resorption


Surface Resorption

A minor form that often occurs after trauma or orthodontic treatment. It is usually self-limiting and does not require extensive treatment.

Inflammatory Resorption

Typically follows trauma or infection, leading to an inflammatory response that breaks down the tooth structure.

Replacement Resorption (Ankylosis)

This occurs when the bone starts replacing the resorbed root structure, eventually leading to the fusion of the tooth to the alveolar bone.

Cervical Resorption

Initiates at the cervical region of the tooth and can spread to involve significant portions of the tooth structure if not addressed promptly.


Causes of Tooth Root Resorption

The etiology of tooth root resorption is multifactorial, involving both local and systemic factors.


Local Factors

  • Trauma
  • Orthodontic Treatment
  • Inflammation and Infection
  • Cysts and Tumors



Physical injury to a tooth, such as a blow or a fall, can disrupt the periodontal ligament and cementum, initiating the resorption process.

Orthodontic Treatment

Excessive or prolonged orthodontic forces can lead to resorption due to the stress placed on the tooth roots.

Inflammation and Infection

Pulpal or periodontal infections can trigger an inflammatory response that leads to resorption.

Cysts and Tumors

Pathological lesions in the jaw can exert pressure on the roots, leading to resorption.


Systemic Factors

  • Hormonal Changes
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Autoimmune Diseases


Hormonal Changes

Conditions such as hyperparathyroidism can alter the balance of bone resorption and formation.

Genetic Predisposition

Some individuals may have a genetic susceptibility to root resorption.

Autoimmune Diseases

Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can increase the likelihood of resorptive processes.


Diagnosis of Tooth Root Resorption

Early diagnosis of tooth root resorption is crucial for effective management. Diagnostic methods include:

Clinical Examination

A thorough clinical examination can reveal signs such as tooth mobility, discoloration, or unusual sensitivity. Dentists often look for any history of trauma or orthodontic treatment, which can provide clues to the diagnosis.

Radiographic Examination

Radiographs (X-rays) are essential for identifying and assessing the extent of root resorption. The types of radiographs commonly used include:


Periapical Radiographs

 Useful for detailed views of the tooth and surrounding bone.

Panoramic Radiographs

Provide a broad view of the entire jaw and can detect multiple areas of resorption.

Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT)

Offers three-dimensional imaging, which is particularly helpful for complex cases and precise localization of resorption.


Treatment of Tooth Root Resorption

The treatment approach for tooth root resorption depends on the type, cause, and extent of the condition.


Internal Resorption


Endodontic Treatment (Root Canal)

The primary treatment for internal resorption involves removing the necrotic pulp tissue and sealing the resorption cavity with suitable filling materials.


In cases where resorption is detected early and is minimal, regular monitoring with radiographs may be sufficient.


External Resorption

  • Surface Resorption
  • Inflammatory Resorption
  • Replacement Resorption (Ankylosis)
  • Cervical Resorption


Surface Resorption

Often self-limiting and may not require treatment other than monitoring.

Inflammatory Resorption

Requires addressing the underlying cause, such as infection or trauma. Treatment may include endodontic therapy, periodontal therapy, or surgical intervention.

Replacement Resorption (Ankylosis)

Management can be challenging as the tooth becomes fused to the bone. Options include surgical removal of the affected tooth and possible prosthetic replacement.

Cervical Resorption

Treatment may involve debridement of the resorptive lesion and restoration with composite resin or other materials. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.


Prevention of Tooth Root Resorption

Preventive strategies focus on minimizing the risk factors associated with root resorption.

  • Use of Mouthguards
  • Immediate Treatment of Dental Trauma
  • Careful Planning and Monitoring
  • Regular Dental Check-ups
  • Oral Hygiene
  • Timely Treatment of Infections


Use of Mouthguards

Especially in contact sports, to protect teeth from injury.

Immediate Treatment of Dental Trauma

Prompt and appropriate management of dental injuries can reduce the risk of resorption.

Careful Planning and Monitoring

Orthodontic treatment should be meticulously planned and monitored to apply optimal forces and avoid overloading the teeth.

Regular Dental Check-ups

Routine dental visits during orthodontic treatment to identify and address early signs of resorption.

Oral Hygiene

Maintaining good oral hygiene to prevent periodontal and pulpal infections.

Timely Treatment of Infections

Prompt treatment of dental infections to prevent the spread of inflammation and subsequent resorption.



Tooth root resorption is a complex condition with various etiologies and manifestations. Early detection through regular dental check-ups and appropriate diagnostic tools is critical for effective management. Understanding the types, causes, and treatment options for tooth root resorption can help dental professionals and patients take proactive steps to preserve dental health. With advancements in diagnostic techniques and treatment modalities, the prognosis for managing tooth root resorption has significantly improved, allowing for better patient outcomes and long-term dental health.

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