What are the implications of root resorption that occurs during orthodontic treatment?

Doctor's Answers (1)

Root resorption is a common consequence of orthodontic treatment that results in tooth structure loss at the tip of the roots of teeth. The cause of root resorption is multifactorial, even individuals who have not undergone orthodontic treatment may also exhibit signs of root resorption upon a routine xray check up.

However orthodontic treatment does predispose to an increased risk of root resorption. In a study by Marques et al, the incidence of root resorption after orthodontic treatment was found to be 14.5%. 

I often tell my patients that the majority of those who exhibit signs of root resorption will show root shortening of less than 2mm. However, those who are genetically predisposed to root resorption may show even greater shortening of their roots.

In a study that evaluated individuals who exhibited severe root resorption (root shortening of 1/3 of the original root length) 15 years after treatment, no teeth had signs of increased mobility (i.e became shaky) and no teeth were lost as a result of the root shortening.

In the majority of orthodontic patients, root shortening has no long term implications to the health and the long term survival of the teeth.

However in individuals who exhibit an increased risk of root resorption (i.e generalised short roots and roots look blunt on the xray), orthodontic treatment may further shorten their roots and may lead to increased mobility (i.e shaky teeth) as a result of the loss of support. Good periodontal/gum health will be crucial in these individuals to ensure these teeth will last a long time in the mouth. 

Hope this helps and all the very best. 

Warm regards,

Dr Priscilla Lu


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