Mysteries of Root Resorption During Orthodontic Treatment

One unfortunate potential complication of orthodontic treatment is shortening of the roots which results in less future support of the affected tooth (teeth). The process is not pain inducing, cannot be predicted or prevented and despite decades of investigation it remains unclear just why it occurs in some patients but not in others.

In 28 years of practice we have never lost a tooth to root resorption but we have seen diminished support for affected teeth. If short roots on the front teeth are detected pretreatment, it may be prudent to followup with additional imaging 6 months later to look for additional changes though one must take into account the additional radiation administered to the patient and the likelihood ( very small ) that a change will be found sufficient to justify a change in the treatment plan. The standard of care in these situations has not been established but in general, we avoid obtaining x-rays to look for problems we’re unlikely to find and even if we did would not often result in a change of treatment. The research article on resorption by Marques, Ramos-Jorge,Armond and Ruellas appears in the American Journal of Orthodontics 2010; 137:384-8