Resorption is the body's way of eliminating bone or other hard tissue structures. As the New Zealand Association of Orthodontists explains, resorption of the tooth root occurs when the body begins eating away at a tooth's root surface. This process is a normal and natural part of your baby teeth falling out. It can be problematic, however, when it occurs on permanent teeth.
Normal Root Resorption
During resorption, certain cells pass messages between bone and tooth, signaling for the tooth and bone structures to break down or rebuild. According to Dental Aegis, during physiological root resorption, the body gives the signal to have the bone between the new permanent tooth and the old baby tooth waste away along with the root of the baby tooth. Eventually, the baby tooth falls out, leaving a space for the new permanent tooth to erupt in its place.
An article in the European Journal of Dentistry explains that orthodontic treatment often triggers mild root resorption in permanent teeth. When you have braces, the orthodontist puts force on the teeth to guide them into a better position to improve your bite. The bone is remodeled to accommodate the moving tooth. If the shifting occurs too quickly, though, the tooth or bone may dissolve the roots when it really should have been altering the bone.
According to Dentistry IQ, if the roots dissolve too much in permanent teeth, there is a risk of the teeth becoming mobile or falling out.
Causes of Root Resorption
Various theories attempt to explain the process, yet resorption is one aspect of oral medicine that may not have a clear answer. The European Journal of Dentistry notes that resorption may be due to patient- or orthodontic-related factors. Resorption may be more likely to occur in patients with asthma, allergies, chronic alcoholism or severe malocclusion, among other reasons. Additionally, genetics, age and sex may have an influence. Orthodontic-related factors include the duration of orthodontic treatment, the amount of force exerted on the tooth and the direction in which the tooth is moving.
Treatment for Resorption
Since the exact cause of resorption is unknown, the best way to treat root resorption is to prevent it. According to Dentistry IQ, orthodontists should take periodic X-rays of a patient's mouth during treatment. If the roots begin to look too short, it's a sign that treatment should be altered. Extreme resorption is rare, but always keep your regular appointments with your dental professional so they can catch dental problems early. Remember to keep up with good dental hygiene habits, which includes brushing twice daily and flossing.