Thursday, July 30, 2009

How Does a Belly Flop Cause Root Resorption? Dr. Okun Explains

It doesn’t. But a belly flop is a great analogy for one of the reasons that roots resorb.

When you drag your hands through the water in the swimming pool you can feel the water resist the movement. The faster you move your hands the more you feel the water holding you back. But you can also feel the water moving out of the way to let your hands move.

Now imagine slapping the top of the water, or doing a belly flop. As your hand, or your stomach, hits the water, the water does not move nicely out of the way. The surface water splashes, but what you notice more keenly is the stinging pain you feel on your hand or stomach. It hurts! You’ve hit the water so hard that the water acts like a solid concrete wall, and it feels like the water hit you back.

At Okun Orthodontics, we use braces to move teeth. As they push gently on the teeth, the teeth push gently on the bone that surrounds them. The bone in turn remodels, or moves out of the way, allowing the teeth to move. Sometimes, however, the bone doesn’t "move out of the way" fast enough. The root of the tooth ends up taking the brunt of the force instead. The root "gets hurt" and displays its "pain" by getting shorter. The loss of root length is called "root resorption". Unfortunately, the root never grows back.

Since long roots increase the longevity of a tooth, it is best to preserve the roots of your teeth by moving them slowly, and continuously, with your braces. To keep those forces continuous it is necessary to have your braces adjusted on a regular basis. (This is why you should schedule your orthodontic appointments at Okun Orthodontics approximately every three to six weeks.)

Now you know how the pain from a belly flop can represent the remodeling of the roots of your teeth. If you have any specific questions about root resorption, give Okun Orthodontics a call at 914-253-0722.

--Dr. Judith Okun

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