Common Conditions

What to Do About Tooth Resorption

What is tooth resorption and what should I do if my dentist says I have it?

by Dr. Burhenne

What to Do About Tooth Resorption

Tooth Resorption Question: Hi Dr. B, I am currently facing extraction of two teeth in the smile zone and implants. The teeth developed internal resorption. I have been a faithful attendant to my teeth all my life — checkups twice a year. I am now 55 years old. I saw the dentist in April, no problem. I returned in July to check out an odd sensation and was told I will have to lose two teeth.

Here’s my question: was my dentist negligent? He had taken bitewing x-rays in April which didn’t show the front teeth (#6 and #7). My last full mouth x-ray was 2008. Should he have taken full mouth x-rays since? How could he miss this problem?

Given my experience, am I right to advise my friends to be sure they have full mouth x-rays more frequently? How should I manage my tooth resorption?

Lisa
Answer: Hi Lisa, First, a little background information on tooth resorption:

Tooth resorption is when part or all of a tooth’s structure is broken down when the body begins to remove mineralized tissue.

Internal or external resorption to the teeth is somewhat common. For you, Lisa, it probably occurred after a bump to the front teeth or aggressive orthodontics as a child. I have some external resorption of my own front teeth.

Resorption often requires extraction of the teeth, which you mention, but not always, which I’ll get to in a bit.

Regarding your dentist taking x-rays of the front teeth, I’m not too concerned. I don’t think your dentist was negligent. Bitewings are the most frequently taken x-ray since that’s the area where cavities occur most often. Since you want to identify cavities when they’re small, we take bitewing x-rays more frequently than full mouth x-rays.

The reason for not taking full mouth x-rays more frequently is that dentists always have to consider how much radiation they are exposing their patient to versus the chance that the x-ray will reveal a problem. As a dentist, I’m always considering how much radiation I’m exposing my patients to and want to keep it as minimal as possible. Obviously, x-rays are necessary for many circumstances, but I wouldn’t want to do an x-ray and expose my patient to radiation needlessly.

In terms of extraction of those teeth, here’s the question I would ask my dentist if I were you: What would happen if you left the teeth in place? As always, get a second opinion and compare the answers you get.

Resorption is typically occurred over a long period of time and can be observed in five-year increments to monitor how it’s changing. If the teeth are a little loose and the resorption is inactive, meaning they haven’t changed position in the last five to ten years, then I’d leave them. Occasionally, resorption can be very aggressive and happen very quickly.

If the rate of resorption has not changed, then I would do nothing. If the teeth are very loose and affecting your chewing and you’re in pain, then that’s a different story.

To recap, find out if the resorption is active. My own resorption isn’t active and I’ve been able to live with it for twenty years without extracting the teeth. Don’t load the teeth heavily — don’t chew on ribs or bite into an apple, use your cuspids and back teeth for chewing heavier foods.

Hope that helps, Lisa. Let me know what happens.

Dr. B

Juggling all the pieces of your health is hard...

But I can definitely help with what's going on in your mouth. Leave your email address below, and I'll share 7 Insider Secrets that your dentist probably isn't telling you—and that could be keeping you from optimal oral and dental health.

Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS

24 Comments

Leave a Comment

  1. how do I tell if the resorption is inactive? I had a little accident when I was 10 that resulted to tooth trauma. It was only after 19 years when I started to notice the slight discoloration of my tooth. It wasn’t aching, and there is no tooth movement. Should I leave them as it is? What would be the long-term effects of this?

  2. Hi I am 15 years old… 5 years ago I suffered an accident where a swing knocked my tooth out. The whole root came out so the dentist I went to put it back in. 5 years later which is now I began to have really bad pains and an abscess occurred above the tooth. This is my front left tooth… I went to an Endodontics which he told me my old dentist was supposed to give me a root canal 7 days after he put it back in but that never happened… They tried ever 3 months to drain the infection and fill it with medicine and seal it. Finally this happened last month… They told me there’s nothing they can do for me it’s in resorption because it’s leaking stinky stuff and smells and is turning grey in the back. This hurts really bad. Every dentist keeps saying I can’t get an implant because I’m too young?

  3. Hi, and thank you for the article.
    I have been diagnosed with root resorbtion in 2nd incisor (top), the one on right side. I’ve never had trouble with incisor teeth, and this is new to me. The tooth looks healthy, same colour as the others. It isn’t loose. But on the X ray I see it has a small ‘black’ area at one side where I guess there is no root left. The dentist also says there is NO root canal there! He says the nerve is dead, but I can feel the tooth just like the others, when I bite on it or touch it and it hasn’t changed colour.
    He says the only option as he can’t do a root canal treatment is to take out the tooth. Then he says I’d have to wear a denture for months no matter if I decide to have an implant there or a bridge, because the other teeth would spread if I don’t.
    I can’t bear the idea of having to wear a ‘plate’ in my mouth. It would drive me nuts. I just know.
    So I asked him what will happen if we just leave that tooth? So far (8 months later) nothing has happened to it, and it hasn’t loosened or anything. He’s not really in favour of me leaving it for fear it will get infected. He said as it has no nerve I wouldn’t know if it got infected (?) And if that happened I would need a bone graft, I feel I probably would know about it pretty quickly -but obviously would like to avoid infection as I take antibiotics very badly, with the exception of Amoxycillin which I can just about tolerate!
    But so far, no problem with it. I know I could get an implant but am scared in case the implant fails, plus it will cost me over two thousand (British) pounds. It’s so invasive too, and I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to all that.
    My body says ‘leave it alone’. My head says maybe I should do something to get it fixed….I cannot decide about it.

  4. Louise if you decide to have the tooth removed ask your dentist about an essix retainer with a fake tooth or a snapon smile instead of the denture (hopefilly he/she is actually referring to a flipper for your temporary instead of a denture which would only cover part of the roof of your mouth). There are othe options too that can be done. We can sometimes extract the tooth, place an implant and put a temporary on the implant the same day!
    Hope this helps! Dr kory blythe

  5. Hi Louise

    I’ve just had mine extracted following an abscess and infection. The pain of the infection was horrific! 2 different antibiotics and pain killers for 5 days and it didn’t ease it at all.

    I’d have it out. It’s not going to get better. I’m having a bridge done as mine is near the front too and can be seen.

    Good luck with your decision x

    • Hi Linda:

      Unfortunately there is no toothpaste that can have an effect on tooth resorption. This phenomena occurs inside the jawbone and inside of the tooth, both areas that are not exposed to the application of toothpaste.

      drb

    • Hi Linda:

      Unfortunately there is no toothpaste that can have an effect on tooth resorption. This phenomena occurs inside the jawbone and inside of the tooth, both areas that are not exposed to the application of toothpaste.

      drb

    • Hi Linda:

      Unfortunately there is no toothpaste that can have an effect on tooth resorption. This phenomena occurs inside the jawbone and inside of the tooth, both areas that are not exposed to the application of toothpaste.

      drb

    • Hi Linda:

      Unfortunately there is no toothpaste that can have an effect on tooth resorption. This phenomena occurs inside the jawbone and inside of the tooth, both areas that are not exposed to the application of toothpaste.

      drb

    • Hi Linda:

      Unfortunately there is no toothpaste that can have an effect on tooth resorption. This phenomena occurs inside the jawbone and inside of the tooth, both areas that are not exposed to the application of toothpaste.

      drb

    • Hi Linda:

      Unfortunately there is no toothpaste that can have an effect on tooth resorption. This phenomena occurs inside the jawbone and inside of the tooth, both areas that are not exposed to the application of toothpaste.

      drb

    • Hi Linda:

      Unfortunately there is no toothpaste that can have an effect on tooth resorption. This phenomena occurs inside the jawbone and inside of the tooth, both areas that are not exposed to the application of toothpaste.

      drb

  6. how do you get over the fear of going to the dentist with out medication to clam you when you had a bad experience at a prior dentist.

  7. I am a 60 year old healthy woman recently diagnosed with resorption on my front tooth. I also wonder how on previous X-rays there was no clue until my dentist noticed a pink gum. I was basically rushed to the endodontist who took various X-rays and panoramic. She sent me onto the periodontist who performed gum surgery. Now I’ll get a root canal and then crown with post. I think they want to do something to match the other front tooth with the new crown. The whole thing has made me depressed. Can I never eat a bagel again? Will this start happening in other teeth? Does the course of treatment seem proper? Thank you.

      • He said it’s kind of rare but just happens. I’m a mess. I had to wait for My gum surgery to heal before I can proceed and all the specialists made me so nervous not to bite or brush my front tooth. I’m so paranoid it’s just going to crack. I was lucky my hygienist caught it.

  8. I have resorption in my front tooth. I’ve already had periodontal gum surgery to prep for my root canal next week and then onto post and crown, which seems to be the best path. My question, is, do you think the tooth could just fall out before I finish treatment. All the professionals have made me so nervous about biting and I feel like I’m beginning to see some kind of film, perhaps the eroding. Will it survive the 2 weeks before I can get to the temporary crown?

  9. I have been diagnosed with tooth resorption (#13), which has been crowned for some years now and has had a root canal. The crown became loose and eventually fell out. There is no tooth stub exposed below the gum line. The dentist recommendation is to have the tooth (remaining roots) pulled and get an implant. I will need to opt for a flipper, or something like that because of the cost of an implant. However, I am wondering if they didn’t notice an infection, is there any reason to pull the tooth (roots) out? Or, should I just get the flipper for coverage.
    Thank you so much!

  10. My son is 28 years old and is having issues with tooth resorption. His front left tooth was extracted and now a second back tooth is possibly going to be extracted. Seems to be happening very quickly (within this year). He has been diagnosed with psoriasis and began taking Humara prescribed by his dermatologist. Is it possible tooth resorption is occurring because of the auto immune disease or a side effect of the medication? Any suggestions on how to slow down the progression of tooth resorption? Thank you!

  11. Hi. I have reabsorption or think I do. The teeth now my third one destroys itself from the inside out. No pain. What bacteria test should I ask to be done and does swilling with flax oil help flush out unwanted bad bacteria.
    I’ve read mineral rich diet helps and NO.sugar, still working on that….
    I’m 44 & I’m guilty of loving sugar throughout my life, I sit this sugar abuse that causes it and allows it to continue….?
    I’ve not had any trauma to my teeth atall throughout my life…….

  12. Hi I was recently diagnosed with external resorption on lower right side where I have 2 crowns side by side. Dentist said to have tooth(crown removed) then implant. the crowns are all the way in back so I don’t really want an implant. I went to the dentist because I had pain but still not sure it was from this or sinuses. Presently no pain. What do I do now. Who do I ask for help, treatment. Can I just do nothing.

    • Grace, it’s hard to say without having done a clinical exam. Doing nothing however will not be a good thing. The eventual bone loss may make it difficult to place implants later if you change your mind (and miss having teeth back there). I’d get a second opinion first from another dentist, say an endodontist. Compare the rate of external resorption from the last xray and that may buy you some time. See if the resorption is active in other words. Often signs of resorption are diagnosed, but assumed to be rapidly getting worse. If it’s the tip of the root that shows the resorption on the xray, many times these teeth can function well if the resorption has stopped. Hope this helps clarify your situation.
      DrB

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend

Facebook icon Twitter icon Instagram icon Pinterest icon Google+ icon YouTube icon LinkedIn icon Contact icon