Root resorption is a rare tooth disorder that can be difficult to spot before it turns into a dental emergency. You may have only learned about it after visiting your dentist for a routine checkup, or you may have noticed, to your horror, a small hole growing in your tooth along your gum-line. Whatever the case may be, this serious condition will quickly eat away at your tooth if allowed to progress, and your own body is the primary culprit. Read on to learn more about this strange disorder and what can be done to save teeth affected by it. 

Understanding the Purpose of Root Resorption 

Root resorption in adults is the product of a natural biological function gone wrong. When children lose their first set of teeth, the roots are left behind in the gums. The gum tissues therefore need a mechanism to reabsorb these roots, reclaiming vital nutrients as well as clearing the way for adult teeth to grow into place. Trauma to your gums or teeth can sometimes cause this mechanism to start up again on perfectly healthy adult teeth, and the damage can be extensive if it goes unnoticed for very long. Even poorly installed orthodontics may be enough to trigger resorption. 

Recognizing the Signs of Resorption

Unfortunately, many cases of root resorption occur without noticeable symptoms until the damage is visible to the naked eye. If you are lucky, your dentist may catch the problem earlier during a routine examination, which is yet another reason why you should stay on a regular dental-maintenance schedule. If not, you may eventually notice a missing chunk in one of your teeth, usually partially obscured by the gum-line. As you might have already guessed, that should be your cue to head to your nearest dental clinic at the first opportunity. 

Repairing the Damage

In cases where the deterioration of the tooth is minor, your dentist may be able to save it. This involves cutting away the gum tissue responsible for destroying your tooth and then filling the hole with resin or a similar compound. The tissues are then restored to your standard gum levels and, with a little luck, the resorption process will be interrupted. 

Replacing the Tooth

Sometimes, however, it simply isn't possible to save a tooth impacted by root resorption. Once your dentist has reached this conclusion, the tooth will need to be extracted, and you will need to decide what you want to do about the gap. Dental implants are an increasingly popular option, but dental bridges tend to be less expensive and invasive. Talk to your dentist about your options to reach the right decision for you. If you are at risk for further cases of resorption, make sure to schedule regular check-ins to ensure that the condition does not spread to your other teeth as well.