Root resorption is a disease process in which the root of a tooth is gradually being dissolved by the patient’s own body. The cause of this remains unclear, but trauma to a tooth is often cited as a main reason. The resorption can take many years to progress and often goes unnoticed by the patient.
If detected early, the resorption can often be repaired. Your periodontist will assess this and determine whether treatment of the tooth is feasible. It may also be necessary to seek the advice of a specialist endodontist who may need to carry out root canal therapy as part of the treatment to retain the tooth.
The case below shows root resorption affecting an upper canine tooth. The white arrows on the x-ray scans show the position of the resorption in the long axis (left image) and in cross-section (right image). The cavity can be quite small externally, but often spreads internally to undermine the tooth.
Unfortunately, many cases of root resorption are too advanced to treat and the affected tooth needs to be removed. Dental implants are a good way to replace teeth that are lost because of resorption.