What exactly is tooth dilaceration? Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary defines this rare, and sometimes preventable, occurrence as an injury "to a developing tooth root that results in a curve of the long axis as development continues." Learn about the signs of this condition, preventive measures and its differences from other malformations.
This condition occurs when your tooth's root or crown bends or curls instead of growing relatively straight. It appears most often in the back teeth. According to a report published by Contemporary Clinical Dentistry, some root curvature is fairly common in back teeth, but extreme cases are rare. The curvature is considered acute when the root bends 90 degrees or more from the axis of your tooth, or more than 20 degrees at the tip of the root curve. It can look slightly curved at the tip of your root, or it can look S-shaped, the report notes.
Causes of the Curvature
Causes of the condition include tooth trauma, delayed tooth eruption and the manner of tooth development, says the American Biodontics Society. Most commonly, as bones grow in the area, shifts in their course of development cause the curvature.
Flexion vs. Dilaceration
You may hear these terms used interchangeably, but they mean distinct things. An article in Oral Health and Dentistry defines dilaceration as a deviation of 90 degrees or more along the long axis of the tooth. Flexion occurs when the deviation is less than 90 degrees.
Is It Preventable?
Injury to primary teeth can damage your permanent teeth, notes the International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry, but this only happens rarely. It is possible for trauma to affect the tooth development of 4- to 5-year-olds. Taking care to avoid injury to the mouth at this age is one way to prevent the condition (and always during sports and recreational activity).
Certain conditions, such as Smith-Magenis syndrome and Axenfeld-Rieger syndrome, as well as family history can increase the risk of acute root curvature. Cysts or tumors can also be risk factors. Visit your dentist and doctor as soon as you see or feel an abnormality in your or your child's face and mouth area.
Likewise, if you feel pressure or pain (which can result from this condition) in this area, make an appointment.
An endodontist, or a root specialist, is typically involved in treatment. The endodontist will take X-rays to determine the extent of the problem and will use special instruments to guard against further injury of the area. A root canal and full cleaning within the tooth are essential if the curve is severe.
Caring for your child's primary teeth and making regular pediatric dentist appointments are important for catching the problem early on if it develops.