Interventions for the management of external root resorption

  • Review
  • Intervention




External root resorption is a pathological process which tends to occur following a wide range of mechanical or chemical stimuli such as infection, pressure, trauma or orthodontic tooth movement. Although it is predominantly detected by radiography, in some cases, root resorption may be identified by clinical symptoms i.e. pain, swelling and mobility of the tooth. Treatment alternatives are case-dependant and aim at the removal of the cause and the regeneration of the resorptive lesion.


To evaluate the effectiveness of any interventions that can be used in the management of external root resorption in permanent teeth.

Search methods

The following electronic databases were searched: the Cochrane Oral Health Group Trials Register (to 14 October 2015), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library, 2015, Issue 9), MEDLINE via OVID (1946 to 14 October 2015) and EMBASE via OVID (1980 to 14 October 2015). We searched the US National Institutes of Health Trials Register ( and the WHO Clinical Trials Registry Platform for ongoing trials. No restrictions were placed on the language or date of publication when searching the electronic databases.

Selection criteria

Randomised controlled trials comparing any type of intervention including root canal medications and canal filling, splinting or extraction of teeth or the surgical removal of any relevant pathology with each other, or placebo or no treatment applied to permanent teeth with any type of external root resorption which had been confirmed by clinical and radiological examination.

Data collection and analysis

Two review authors conducted screening of studies in duplicate and independently. The Cochrane Collaboration statistical guidelines were to be followed.

Main results

66 trials were identified in our searches none of which matched our inclusion criteria. However, we identified one ongoing study which is potentially relevant to this review and will be assessed when it is published.

Authors' conclusions

We were unable to identify any reports of randomised controlled trials regarding the efficacy of different interventions for the management of external root resorption. In view of the lack of any high level evidence on this topic, it is suggested that clinicians decide on the most appropriate means of managing this condition according to their clinical experience with regard to patient related factors. Future research should consist of robust clinical trials which conform to the CONSORT statement (

Plain language summary

Interventions for the management of external root resorption

The resorption of the tooth root is a pathological process which can occur following tooth infection, orthodontic treatments or in the presence of unerupted teeth in the jaw. Although this condition is generally asymptomatic and missed in diagnosis, external root resorption may result in tooth mobility and if not diagnosed and treated at an early stage, might eventually result in tooth loss.

Our explicit search revealed that despite the relatively high prevalence of this defect, treatment options are generally case-dependant and there is no high level evidence in this respect. We also identified several empirical reports which require further consideration. It is concluded that future research should aim to provide evidence for practitioners and consumers to make informed decisions about the most appropriate means of managing external root resorption and it appears that the clinician's experience in conjunction with patient's preference would make up the most suitable therapeutic approach.