Resorption occurs any time a part of the body gets absorbed into another part of the body. When we talk about tooth resorption, we generally mean the inflammation and loss of dentin (the inner tissue of the tooth) and cementum (the outer tissue of the tooth) due to absorption. Root resorption specifically refers to when the roots of a tooth or teeth get absorbed into the gums and jaw.
Root resorption is a natural part of the body’s way of recycling old tooth and bone material, and the process of the body eating away at the roots of a tooth are a natural part of losing baby teeth. But when the body starts to absorb material from the roots of permanent teeth, that’s a problem.
Root resorption in adult teeth is usually a result of some sort of trauma to the teeth, often caused by forced shifting of the teeth. This can happen after someone suffers a blow to that tooth, such as in a high-impact sport, but it can also happen as a result of orthodontic treatment.
When we wear braces, the teeth are being pushed and pulled into alignment to produce a healthier bite. Ideally, the bone should be remodeled to accommodate the new position of the teeth, but if the shift happens too quickly, the bone might not have time to readjust, leaving the roots of the teeth to decay and be absorbed back into the rest of the body. If the roots dissolve too much, they could loosen in the gums and even fall out.
In addition to the possibility that the teeth were moved too quickly in the process of orthodontic treatment, other possible factors include the duration of the orthodontic treatment, the amount of force exerted on the teeth, and the direction in which the teeth were moved.
In addition to orthodontic treatment, other health factors have been linked to root resorption. Patients with allergies, asthma, or chronic alcoholism appear to be at a higher risk of suffering root resorption. Age, gender, and genetics might also play a role in whether a patient experiences root resorption.
Since no one knows for sure what causes root resorption, it’s hard to know how to prevent it, but since we know there’s a link between orthodontic treatment and root resorption, orthodontists should keep an eye on their patients’ roots. Take regular x-rays and always be on the lookout for decay.
Dentists should also keep an eye on the roots of any patients they know are undergoing orthodontic treatment. Stay alert for any signs of decay and make sure everyone who’s supposed to be helping you take care of your teeth (your orthodontist and your dentist) are all on the lookout for warning signs.
And, as always, be sure to maintain a healthy dental hygiene routine, especially if you’re wearing braces. Make sure to brush twice a day and floss regularly. If you aren’t already using mouthwash, you might want to add it to your routine to help reduce the chance of infection.
If you want to keep your teeth healthy and strong, you must take care of them. At Simply Smiles Dentistry, we can show you how to properly care for your teeth. You will have a great smile that lasts a lifetime.
Until next time…Keep on Smiling!