What Is Tooth Dilaceration?

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.

Key Features

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.

Treatment Options

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.


This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What Are The Different Parts Of A Tooth?

Each tooth has several distinct parts; here is an overview of each part:

  • Enamel – this is the outer and hardest part of the tooth that has the most mineralized tissue in the body. It can be damaged by decay if teeth are not cared for properly.

  • Dentin – this is the layer of the tooth under the enamel. If decay makes it through the enamel, it next attacks the dentin — where millions of tiny tubes lead directly to the dental pulp.

  • Pulp – this is the soft tissue found in the center of all teeth, where the nerve tissue and blood vessels are located. If tooth decay reaches the pulp, you usually feel pain and may require a root canal procedure.