Tooth resorption is a rare problem, and one that can take you completely by surprise. If you've learned that one of your children's teeth needs to have a root canal or be pulled completely due to tooth resorption -- sometimes called an internal cavity -- here's why you shouldn't put any blame on yourself or your child for it:

No Cavities Necessary

Despite the name, there are no actual cavities developing with tooth resorption. Tooth resorption is when the body's mechanism for reabsorbing parts of a baby tooth so that it can fall out go wrong. Rather than being limited to baby teeth, it can sometimes happen to adult teeth. The biggest problem here is that there's typically no external sign of it happening, so pain is usually the first indicator a patient has.

Why It Happens

Scientists aren't entirely sure yet why tooth resorption happens to some people and not to others. There are a few leading ideas, though.

One possibility is that it's a genetic issue. A genetic switch gets flipped that's usually in the off position, and the tooth resorption process happens to adult teeth when it normally shouldn't. This means that you could have inherited this condition from one or both of your parents, and that any siblings might develop it, too.

Alternatively, tooth resorption can be caused due to physical trauma. If a tooth is damaged from a blow to the face, like one might get while playing sports or in a car accident, it can sometimes trigger the body to begin the resorption process.

What to Do Going Forward

Since nobody is entirely sure why tooth resorption happens, there's no completely surefire way to protect yourself or your child from it. If it's happened to one tooth, there's a chance that it could happen to others, too, so you should do what you can to stay on top of the situation.

Once the tooth has been repaired, you should plan on taking your child to a dentist on a regular basis for x-rays going forward. X-rays are the one method that will allow a dentist to peer into the inside of the teeth. When a pocket of a tooth is empty because of tooth resorption, that's visible on the x-ray. This allows the dentist to catch it and fix the problem earlier on, saving your child from a lot of pain.

If tooth resorption is found early enough, your child's dentist may be able to drill the tooth instead of performing a root canal. Removing the damaged pulp is typically sufficient to stop the process, so long as it hasn't caused damage deeper in the root.

If you were feeling guilty about your child's oral hygiene causing tooth resorption, don't. Tooth resorption can happen to anyone, anywhere, and it has nothing to do with standard cavities or dental hygiene. While you should encourage your child to take good care of their teeth, you can brush off any sense of blame. For more information, contact your local pediatric dentistry services