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Dentistry/Root Resorption



I went to the dentist over a year ago complaining of pain in a tooth.  X-rays were taken and nothing was found to be wrong with it - I was told that the tooth was sensitive and to use specialist toothpaste.  This bothered me again a couple of months later and I went to a new dentist who said exactly the same thing.  However, last week the pain got worse and I went back - again told that there was nothing visually wrong with the tooth (it does have a filling in it but not a large one).  It got worse still and went back yesterday - x-rays were taken once more and it was stated that I had a problem with root resorption - I am not positive but I think it is internal judging from information found on the internet.  I am in a lot of pain with this and have been given amoxcillin and have an appointment booked for 4 weeks time to begin root canal treatment.  

My main question is this - will the amoxcillin get rid of the pain of root resorption?  It is, after all, not an infection so I can't see the logic.  Another question is that there seemed to be a very large dark area within the tooth when looking at the x-ray - how likely is it that RCT will work?  The tooth is slightly mobile - I only noticed this about 5 days ago.  

I am very frustrated that I mentioned this so long ago and was fobbed off.  I feel as though it is likely that I will lose the tooth because of this.  I can't afford an implant.  All advice very welcome

Hi Tina,

WOW! It sounds like you have really been through it. I really sorry to gear you are dealing with this. Resorption can be a tricky thing to deal with.

Now to your questions....You are exactly right about the amoxicillin. Resorption is not an infection. It is live pulp tissue going crazy and eating away at the inside of the tooth. That's why there is an enlarging dark spot on the inside of the tooth on the x-ray. Amoxicillin is meant to deal with a bacterial infection which you don't have.

If treated properly and the resorption has not extended through the tooth into the bone area surrounding the tooth, the chances are pretty good that a root canal will solve the problem. However, there is more to it than that. The first thing should be to open into the tooth, remove as much of the pulp tissue as you can, then pack it internally with calcium hydroxide to stop any further resorption. The calcium hydroxide needs to be changed periodically, so this packing phase could extend to a year of monitoring before finishing the root canal. It is very difficult, impossible actually, to remove all the pulp tissue from the area where the inside of the tooth is widened. That's because our instruments won't go into those irregularities. The calcium hydroxide will neutralize the tissue and stop further resorption. This is VERY important! If the resorption establishes an external blood supply by "eating" through the tooth, the whole problem becomes much more complex and decreases the long term outlook.

My advice would be to get in to see a specialist, an endodontist, as soon as possible, have the tooth opened into to stop your pain and then go forward with treatment in the endodontist's office. This situation is beyond the ability of most general dentists.

I hope this helps answer your questions.

Gary Backlund DMD, MSD  


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Gary Backlund, DMD, MSD


I am an Endodontist ( root canal specialist ) and can answer questions about root canals and their treatment. I cannot diagnose or treat online, but can answer general questions. I have been a specialist for 25 years and am Past President of the Washington State Association of Endodontists.


25 years practicing as a specialist

American Association of Endodonists, Past President Washington State Association of Endodontists.

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