Dental resorption is a process where the body begins to attack one or more teeth, treating them as foreign bodies in need of destruction. The teeth involved will be eaten away and the patient can experience pain, numbness, and discomfort, in addition to noticing changes in the shape and size of the teeth. The causes of dental resorption are not fully understood and there are treatments available, although it is sometimes necessary to pull the teeth involved.
There are several forms of dental resorption. External resorption starts with the outer layers of the teeth and tends to be more severe, while internal resorption works its way out from the core of the tooth, and is less noticeable at first. People can also develop root resorption, where only the root of the tooth is involved. Internal resorption and root resorption can be treated with root canal procedures, while external resorption usually results in an extraction.
Sometimes, this damage to the teeth can be linked with ongoing periodontal disease and inflammatory processes. Chronic inflammation can trigger peculiar immune reactions as the body adapts to the inflammation, and sometimes the body may start attacking its own tissues. In other cases, there may be no clear cause or warning sign for resorption, with the patient simply developing dental problems spontaneously. Even people with healthy, well-maintained teeth can experience resorption.
In people with this dental disorder, X-rays of the teeth, as well as a physical exam, can be used to identify the resorption and determine how far it has progressed. This information will be helpful when the dentist develops a treatment plan and discusses options with the patient. Receiving treatment is important, as the damage to the teeth can cause chronic pain and other problems for the patient if it is allowed to persist. It is also important for patients to be aware that even if their oral health has previously been excellent, they can still develop dental resorption.
Humans are not the only animals who can experience spontaneous resorption of the teeth. Dental resorption is also very common in cats. Many older cats develop lesions in their mouths as their teeth break down with age. An oral exam will often show redness and irritation symptomatic of inflammation around the sites of heavily eroded teeth. For cats, the treatment is usually extraction of the involved teeth, and it may be necessary to make dietary changes, such as switching to soft foods the cat can eat more comfortably.