What Is Tooth Resorption?

Posted on: 21 October 2016

Nearly everyone knows that cavities are a threat to the health of teeth, but you might be surprised to learn that there's another way teeth can be broken down. This disorder is called tooth resorption, and it can happen to anyone, regardless of their oral hygiene. Read on to learn more about tooth resorption, how it happens, and how it's treated.

Unrelated To Oral Hygiene

Tooth resorption is a process that's completely unrelated to your oral hygiene. While cavities typically form due to poor oral hygiene and a buildup of plaque and tartar, tooth resorption occurs from the inside out. While cavities start on the outside of the tooth and erode away at the tooth's surfaces, tooth resorption begins on the inside of the tooth, which means it may not be immediately visible to the eye, even during a dental examination.

How and Why Tooth Resorption Happens

Dentists aren't entirely sure why some people's teeth go through this process, but it's thought to be related to the natural process of losing one's baby teeth.

When your baby teeth are ready to move out of the way so your adult teeth can move in, the body begins a process similar to tooth resorption. The roots of the tooth are reabsorbed into the body, allowing the tooth to loosen and fall out of your gums. This is why baby teeth lack the visible roots that extracted teeth have. Dentists think that due to trauma or disease, the same mechanism can sometimes kick in with adult teeth, causing the tooth to ultimately fall out if left untreated.


If tooth resorption is caught early on, the tooth can typically be saved via a root canal. Your dentist will extract the tooth root and fill the hollow of your tooth, stopping the resorption process and protecting your tooth from further damage. However, this can only be achieved if your mouth is x-rayed early on enough to catch the damage before the root of the tooth is destroyed.

If your tooth is too far gone, your dentist may need to extract it completely. In this case, a dental implant can be put in its place, restoring the appearance of your smile.

Tooth resorption is an odd disorder that can be alarming to be diagnosed with. Even if you have immaculate dental hygiene, this is one good reason why you should always see your dentist for your regular check-ups. With regular examinations and x-rays, a dentist can stop resorption before the tooth must be removed.