Even when patients do everything right in terms of oral health and tooth maintenance, sometimes unavoidable damage still occurs. One example of this is root resorption, which is an inflammatory process where the body’s own cells attack and destroy the dentin and cementum of the teeth.
Left unchecked, this process can result in serious damage to teeth, which may even result in the need for extraction.
What Causes Root Resorption?
Root resorption is the term for an attack on teeth by cells known as osteoclasts, which are the specialized cells the body uses to break down bone.
Under normal circumstances, the teeth are protected from these cells, but when inflammation is present, sometimes the biochemical activators of these cells is mistakenly triggered, and they begin to attack the teeth. Think of it as a similar process to an autoimmune response or an allergy. The body essentially turns on itself, and instead of protecting itself as it should, it attacks its own tissue.
Since osteoclasts are designed to break down bone and dentine, when they turn on the teeth, they begin to break down the calcium, dentin and cementum of otherwise mostly healthy teeth.
What Triggers Odontoclast to React?
There are many reasons why odontoclast might begin to attack otherwise healthy teeth. These include trauma, pulp necrosis, tooth whitening and orthodontic treatments, among many others. Anything that causes an inflammatory response could potentially trigger this reaction.
In the majority of cases, the trigger is actually a process or treatment that is designed to protect or improve the smile, like tooth whitening or cleaning.
What Kinds of Root Resorption Are There?
Root resorption can occur in a variety of forms, depending largely on the type of triggering inflammation. When the inflammation is inside the teeth, we see internal root resorption, which is usually treated by root canal.
When the inflammation is present outside of the tooth, there are several types of resorption that can occur, including inflammatory resorption, cervical resorption, replacement resorption and temporary resorption. In most cases, intervention is required to halt the process and prevent further damage to the tooth.
What Happens During Resorption?
Resorption is a process that occurs due to the action of osteoclasts, which are cells that are designed to break down hard tissues within the body, and the action of these cells on otherwise healthy teeth is no different. Even though the tooth itself may be generally healthy, the confused osteoclast cells work to break down the tooth, eating away at the cementum and dentine of the tooth. The longer this process continues, the more damaged the tooth will become, and the harder it will be to treat and even to save the tooth.
How Is External Resorption Treated?
While internal resorption is easily treated by root canal, external resorption requires more aggressive and potentially invasive treatments. Sometimes, it may be possible to repair the damage to the tooth, but in some cases, the only solution is to extract the tooth and provide a replacement prosthetic or implant.
For more information on treatment for root resorption or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tom Shackleton, please contact us at 403-242-9952 today.