Can Braces Damage Tooth Roots and Cause Root Resorption?

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

Root resorption is a shortening of your tooth’s root, which happens when your body eliminates a root’s surface. When you wear braces, they create little cramps around the teeth, building up forces that make the old bone dissolve and new bone to be formed. This creates small changes in the length and shape of roots. But can braces cause significant root shortening?

As you wear braces, the changes that roots undergo are typically undetectable. Unless you’re among less than 2% of patients who are genetically susceptible to root resorption, you don’t have anything to worry about. Even in the rare case of resorption, teeth can continue to function normally.

While getting braces offers aesthetic benefits, you don’t want to enter into new complications as a result of this treatment. So, it’s crucial to find the right information before visiting a dentist. If done right, you will not need to worry much about root resorption. 

How do Braces Work?

Close up Dental braces of woman wearing braces beauty smile with white teeth

For a patient, braces can offer incredible benefits, especially if you have been enduring medical and cosmetic problems. Braces exert constant pressure on the jaws and teeth and help to change their alignment, which alters your smile. To hold the archwire in place, the dentist will first install brackets. 

Over time of wearing braces, the archwire forces the teeth to move into the correct alignment. The soft tissue surrounding the bone and teeth includes periodontal ligaments. These ligaments hold teeth in position and can compress or stretch when teeth move.

So, when the braces move a tooth, the ligament compresses, allowing new bone to form in the place left by the misaligned tooth. 

If you have overcrowding, braces are a perfect solution. Overcrowding occurs when the teeth are too small or large compared to the size of the jaw. By wearing braces, you can move individual teeth forward, back, or across to create room for the teeth to sit in perfect alignment. 

Some patients with overcrowding can use an expander, which increases the jaw size. This is a suitable option for younger patients, as it works before the palate is already fused. Through braces, you can fix fine-tuning, bite issues, and level or align the teeth. 

How Common Is Root Resorption With Braces?

Only about 1 to 2% of patients show noticeable root shortening when under an orthodontic treatment. Evidence shows some people are more genetically predisposed to getting root resorption or shortening.

So, it’s not very common for patients on braces to have noticeable root resorption unless in severe cases among those genetically predisposed. 

You can find the evidence by looking at the dental records of the family after an orthodontic treatment took place. If you’re considering getting braces, it’s important to provide this information to your dentist, and they’ll advise how to avoid similar problems during treatment. 

Despite experiencing root resorption, most teeth still function normally. Sometimes, the expert has to examine the teeth through X-rays to notice any effect on the root. The teeth will function for years despite the resorption. 

Root resorption in many patients is caused by prolonged pressure applied by the braces. This rarely occurs and is only seen if you have prolonged pressure.

So, don’t hold back getting those braces, unless you’re sure root shortening runs in your family. If done right and the braces are removed after the recommended period, you will have nothing to worry about. 

Why Do Braces Cause Root Damage?

There are several arguments supporting why braces can cause root damage. For example, some people theorize that when pressure is applied to the teeth quickly, it can cause damage to the root.

So, the treatment should follow a gradual approach and ensure the teeth are not damaged. When teeth are moved too quickly, they’re subjected to too much force. 

However, in most cases of resorption, the normal amount of pressure is applied, so the cause is not directly linked to wearing braces. In the 1 to 2% of the cases, it involves people from families that have a history of root resorption. This makes it more a genetic issue than a problem caused by orthodontic treatment. 

When a constant force is applied to teeth after wearing braces, it can cause root damage. This is because part of the root dissolves as a result of the orthodontic treatment, and one can lose some teeth over time. Intermittent forces or removable appliances are a good way to avoid causing root damage. 

Can Root Resorption Be Prevented? 

Female dentist holding x-ray, dental scan

There are many things you can do if you’re wearing braces and want to avoid a root shortening situation. One of the options is taking X-rays routinely with braces in place. If you notice root shortening is beginning to develop, the professional will discuss it with you.

The remedy will depend on the amount of shortening that has happened. The professional will recommend the treatment be shortened or continued, or the braces can be removed immediately to avert further damage. 


Getting braces is an important decision that will not only help you fix a crooked smile, it can also boost your confidence. However, there are concerns about braces causing root resorption, which is caused by the pressure applied by the braces.

While this is a real issue, it’s not common and only occurs in about 1 to 2% of patients, mostly those with a history of root shortening. So, it’s mostly a genetic problem than one caused by braces. Wearing braces only accelerates the effect.  

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