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Internal resorption: A review & case report


Internal resorption of teeth is an insidious process and is generally found in teeth with previous history of trauma.
Tooth is asymptomatic. It is important to diagnose this condition and institute treatment as early as possible to
improve the prognosis of such teeth. This paper presents a case having resorptive defect in the apical 1/3rd which
was treated non surgically with thermoplastized gutta percha technique. A six-month follow up demonstrated
clinically asymptomatic and adequately functional tooth, with radiographic signs of healing.

INTRODUCTION as a pink spot in cases in which crown dentin

Internal root resorption has been described as destruction is severe. Radiographically, the lesion
a resorptive defect of the internal aspect of the root appears as uniform, round to oval radiolucent
following necrosis of odontoblasts as a result of enlargement of the pulp space. The margins are
chronic inflammation and bacterial invasion of the smooth and clearly defined with distortion of the
pulp tissue. 1
original root canal outline.1, 2

It is caused by transformation of normal pulp For internal resorption to take place, vital pulp
tissue into granulomatous tissue with giant cells, tissue is required. Therefore non surgical root canal
which resorb dentin. This transformation is thought therapy is the treatment of choice to arrest the
to stem from chronic inflammation of the coronal destruction process.
pulp caused by continuous bacterial stimulation.2
Trauma, caries and restorative procedures have
Classifications play an important role for the
been suggested to be contributing factors, but it
clinician in the process of diagnosis and treatment
also occurs as an idiopathic dystrophic changes.
planning. Andreasen has made a unique
Clinically, internal root resorption is usually contribution to the understanding of tooth
asymptomatic and is detected coincidentally resorption following dental trauma and his original
through routine radiographs. Internal resorption can classification remains the most widely accepted3 i.e.
be found in all areas of the root canal but is most Tooth Resorption
commonly found in cervical region. Pain or
discomfort may be the chief complain if the Internal External
Inflammatory Surface
granulation tissue has been exposed to oral fluids. Replacement Inflammatory
The granulation tissue can clinically manifest itself Replacement

* Professor, Guide & HOD, ** Reader, *** PG student, Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, Modern Dental College and Research Centre, Indore.


Classification of tooth resorption proposed by 1. Trauma induced tooth resorption

Lindskog subdivides resorption into 3 broad groups
2. Infection induced tooth resorption
namely 3
3. Hyperplastic invasive tooth resorption

1. Trauma induced tooth resorption

Surface resorption Transient apical internal Pressure Orthodontic Replacement

resorption resorption

2. Infection induced tooth resorption

Internal inflammatory External inflammatory Communicating internal- external

(infective) resorption resorption inflammatory resorption

Apical Interradicular

3. Hyperplastic invasive tooth resorption

Internal (invasive) Invasive coronal Invasive cervical Invasive radicular

replacement resorption resorption resorption resorption

ETIOLOGY AND PREVALANCE mesenchymal cells of the pulpal tissue they

Internal resorption is commonly termed to be differentiate into dentinoclasts, the cells responsible
idiopathic. Trauma and inflammation are for resorption of the hard tooth structure.4
considered to be possible causing factors.
The real clinical problem however is
Resorption process can develop by shifting of pH -
replacement resorption. This is the term coined by
value to acid for example in irreversible pulpitis,
Andreasen and Hjorting-Hansen in the early 1960s.
so that the dentin and enamel substances are
Two types have been described replacement and
dissolved by chelation. The untreated internal
extra canal invasive. Replacement resorption is the
resorption can progress into external or vice versa
deposition of a bone like tissue on a resorbed dentin
which causes fracture of the tooth. In case of tooth
surface. Extracanal invasive resorption usually
trauma, intrapulpal hemorrhage can develop.
begins in the periodontal ligament with soft tissue
Formed blood clots are then organized and
burrowing through cementum and then into dentin.
replaced by granular tissue which compresses
Bone like material is then deposited on the exposed
dentin wall of the pulpal chamber or root canal
dentinal tubules and surface. However on histologic
(fig.1). With activation of non-differentiated

studies these appear to be the same process. Internal cytokine like proteins involved in the regulation of
resorption is rarely found in permanent dentition. osteoclast cell differentiation from hematopoietic
Usually incisors and mandibular molars are precursors and from the upregulation of mature
involved. osteoclasts has become available which are as
Recently evidence of the existence of three

Bone - formation and resorption:5

RANK(Receptor RANKL(Receptor activator of nuclear OPG (osteoprotegerin) Other Cytokines
activator of nuclear factor kappa B ligand) Hormones
factor kappa)

It is characterized as a Synonyms: ODF (osteoclast differentiating Synonym: OCIF Besides RANK/RANKL

Type I membrane factor) OPGL (osteoprotegerin ligand), (osteoclastogenesis system other cytokines
receptor that was TRANCE (tumor necrosis related activation inhibiting factor). such as IL-1alpha, IL-
originally identified in a induced cytokine). 1beta, IL-6, IL-11, TNF-
dendritic cell cDNA Is a secreted receptor from alpha, interferon-
library. It is Type II transmembrane protein RANKL. gamma and TGF-beta
expressed primarily in lymphoid tissue and also involved in control
The receptor is localized T-cell lines. It functions as decoy of osteoclasts formation
on osteoclasts and their receptor which limits the and bone resorption.
hematopoietic precursors It is osteoclast differentiating factor in vivo biological actions of
of the monocytes / and is absolutely required for RANKL. It reduces Parathyroid hormone
macrophage lineage. osteoclastogenesis. concentration of available related protein
RANKL and inhibits its promotes osteogenesis
RANK signaling Osteoclast precursors that express RANK ability to stimulate by inhibiting
pathways are implicated recognize RANKL through cell to cell osteoclast production. expression of OPG and
in differentiation, contact and differentiate into osteoclasts. by enhancing
resorption and survival The inactivation of OPG production of RANKL
responses of osteoclasts. RANKL immunoreactivity has been plays an important role in by osteoblasts.
detected in odontoblasts, pulp fibroblasts the differentiation of
and single odontoclasts, suggesting osteoclasts. This helps to
autocrine/paracrine role. explain the mechanism of
both inflammatory and non
PDL cells under mechanical stress inflammatory resorption.
upregulated osteoclastogenesis with
increased expression of RANKL, m RNA
and protein

DIAGNOSIS - Radiographic diagnosis

Various diagnostic tools used for detection
of internal resorption are: - Conventional and cone beam computed
- Visual examination based on changed color tomography
in tooth crown - Light microscopy

- Electron microscopy each rotation is then reconstructed to produce

tomographic images. CBCT differs from
Teeth in which resorptive process reaches
conventional computed tomography imaging in
cervical area of the crown may have a pinkish color,
that the whole volume of data is acquired in the
known as pink tooth resulting from granulation
course of a single sweep of the scanner.7, 8
tissue ingrowth4,6 (fig.2).
Axial, transverse, and tangent slices, number
A radiograph of the affected tooth usually
of root surfaces, and actual root resorption
shows an oval enlargement (ballooning out) of the
extension can be analyzed.
root canal space.7 The pulp chamber and canal
cannot be followed through out the lesion. Light microscope shows different levels of
Radiograph performed at different angulation inflammation of the pulpal tissue with infiltration
confirms that the resorptive lacunae is a of predominant lymphocytes, macrophages and
continuation of the distorted border of the root some leukocytes, dilated blood vessels and
canal. multinucleated dentinoclasts in resorptive lacunae
on the pulpal-dentin surface.
Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is
a relatively new three dimensional imaging
technique requiring a significantly lower radiation
Electron microscope shows the pulpal-dentin
dose than conventional computed tomography.
wall without odontoblasts. Dentinoclasts, large in
With traditional computed tomography, a narrow
number, have size of 50m and with numerous
fan shaped X-ray beam makes a series of rotations
philopods are turned towards dentin surface and
around the patients head as they are incrementally
attached to it.4
moved through the machine. The raw data from


Pinkish hue if resorptive process reaches cervical Resorption of coronal dentin and enamel often
area. creates a clinically obvious pinkish color in the
tooth crown as highly vascular resorptive tissue
Internal replacement resorption is relatively rare
becomes visible through thin residual enamel
and may appear clinically as a pink area in the
(cervical resorption).
crown (fig.3).
When tooth structure is replaced with bone that
fuses with dentin, it is termed replacement
The margins are smooth and clearly defined. The resorption or ankylosis.
walls of root canal system may appear to be
balloon out.
The border will be irregular and ill defined.
The pulp chamber and the canal cannot be
followed through out the lesion (fig.4). If the lesion is superimposed on the root canal


Their distribution of the pulp canal is symmetrical system, it should be possible to follow the canal
but can be eccentric. walls unaltered through the area of defect.

The radiolucency is of uniform density. Their distribution is not symmetrical and can occur
on any root surface.
Lesion is within the confine of root canal on angled
radiographs (fig.5). Their may be variations in the radiodensity of the
body of lesion.

Lesion shift on changing angulations.

Surface Transient apical Pressure Orthodontic Replacement resorption
Resorption internal

Monitor Monitor Remove cause Should Mature tooth in normal

radiographically. radiographically. e.g. stabilize on occlusion; leave and
unerupted completion of monitor for ultimate
Endodontic Endodontic
cuspid, orthodontic implant replacement. In
treatment only treatment only
neoplasm treatment infra-occlusion; in
if signs of if signs of
selective cases surgical
infection. infection or
reposition and treat root
surface with emdogain.
Immature tooth in infra-
occlusion; in selected
cases surgically reposition
and treat root surface with
emdogain; or decoronate
and submerge. Implant
therapy, if necessary,
when alveolar growth


Internal Inflammatory (infective) External inflammatory root Communicating internal-

root resorption resorption external inflammatory

Apical Interradicular Endodontic treatment and Endodontic treatment to

intracanal medication with resorptive defect. Induce
Endodontic Endodontic
either Ledermix paste calcification by use
treatment to the treatment
followed by long term calcium hydroxide alone
level of and root
calcium hydroxide or or following careful
resorption. canal filling
calcium hydroxide alone. topical application of
(hot GP
Long term calcium Root fill when resorption 90% trichloracetic acid.
hydroxide controlled. ProRoot MTA may also
Obtura etc)
dressing before be used.
Prevention: following
placement of root
replantation of mature tooth
pulp extripation and
ledermix paste dressing as
soon as possible.

Internal Invasive coronal resorption Invasive cervical resorption


Pulpectomy Carefully apply 90% Class 1, 2 - Topic application of 90%

and root filling trichloracetic acid to tricholacetic acid, curettage, and glass
resorptive tissues with ionomer restoration.
Class 3 - Topical application of 90%
Curette, apply trichloracetic acid to resorptive tissue, curettage,
trichloracetic acid to elective pulpectomy and canal preparation to
affected resorptive tissue gain access to deeper and encircling infiltrating
from defect. If pulp channels. Ledermix paste intracanal dressing,
involvement, pulpectomy followed by root filling and final glass ionomer
and root canal filling after cement restoration. Adjunctive orthodontic
intra-canal dressing with extrusion if necessary.Alternative therapy:
Ledermix paste. periodontal flap reflection, curettage,
Orthodontic extrusion if trichloracetic acid application to defect,
necessary. endodontic therapy and restoration.

Class 4 - Leave untreated and monitor or

extract and implant.



Glass ionomer cement,

Super EBA,

Hydrophilic plastic polymer (2-hydroxyethyl

methacrylate with barium salts),

Zinc oxide eugenol and zinc acetate cement,

Fig.1: Showing etiology of transient internal resorption
Amalgam alloy and

Thermoplasticized gutta-percha administered

either by injection or condensation techniques. 12

A 40 yr old male patient was referred to
Department of Conservative Dentistry and
Endodontics. Patient was asymptomatic. On taking Fig.2: Showing Pink tooth

case history it was revealed that the patient meet

with an accident which lead to mandible fracture.
A bone plate was inserted to stabilize the fragment.

On vitality testing 33, 34, 35 were found to

be non vital. On radiographic evaluation a
resorptive area was evident in the apical 1/3rd of
the root canal of 35 (fig 7). Access opening was
done working length was determined. Cleaning and A. Internal replacement resorption
B. External replacement resorption
Shaping was done followed by calcium hydroxide
closed dressing given for 2 weeks with 35 which
was changed after one week. On the next recall,
the canal was dried coated with AH plus sealer,
sectional obturation was done till resorptive area.
The remaining canal was obturated with
thermoplastized gutta percha technique (fig 6, 8).

A six-month follow up demonstrated clinically Fig.4:

A. Internal root resorption - The pulp chamber and the canal
asymptomatic and adequately functional tooth, cannot be followed through out the lesion.
with radiographic signs of healing (fig 9). B. External root resorption - The pulp chamber and the canal
can be followed through out the lesion.


A. Lesion is within the confine of root canal on Fig.6: E&Q Plus
angled radiographs. (Thermoplasticized gutta percha technique)
B. Lesion shift on changing angulations.

Fig.7: Preoperative Fig.8: Postoperative Fig.9: Six months follow-up

DISCUSSION resistance of the tooth to shear forces that may lead

The reciprocal activity between the newly to tooth fracture. Therefore, it is imperative to
formed granular tissue and dentinoclasts initiates initiate endodontic treatment as soon as possible
and progresses the resorption process inside the to arrest the progression of the resorptive process
endodontic space which could be compared to and to prevent root or cervical crown fracture.10
pathogenetic changes in the periapical region. The
early diagnosis and therapy is very important in
Root resorption is a complex process. At
order to stop the resorption process. The success
present the internal inflammatory resorption is
or failure of therapy should be followed clinically
amenable to treatment and can be controlled.
and by radiographic control. Naturally, if the
However, internal replacement resorption is
resorption is stopped actually is not progressing,
difficult to predict and control. Prevention should
we believe that our treatment is successful. We
be the best approach. This is the area which requires
saved a tooth and the objective of our therapy has
further investigation.6
been accomplished.4
The outcome of treatment of teeth with internal 1. Emre Altndasar, Becen Demir: Management of a Perforating
Internal Resorptive Defect with Mineral Trioxide Aggregate:
root resorption depends primarily on the size of
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the lesion. Large lesions cause a reduction in the
2. Maarte Meire, Roeland De Moor: Mineral Trioxide


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