Retained root refers to the partial root structure that remains in the jaw following the extraction or fracture of a natural tooth. If the retained root remains it will either stay frozen in the bone forever or work its way out where it can be removed. Retained root however may cause infection of the jaw or osteitis.
Retained roots are generally discovered during routine examinations and can be removed if it is causing pain to the patient. If the patient feels some type of jaw or facial pain which can either be dull and infrequent or a nagging deep aching pain there is the possibility that the retained roots have caused osteitis to the jaw. Another common symptom of this problem is the presence of a bitter taste or smell emerging from an unknown area in the mouth. The most susceptible regions of the teeth to this problem is the wisdom tooth areas (third molar regions) followed by the first molar areas (six-year molar areas.)
Retained roots are also used a way to provide support to overdentures. Overdentures can either be a full or partial denture which is designed to fit over retained teeth or roots. The advantage that overdentures have over complete destures is that the retained roots aid in the preservation of the alveolar bone and also provides an established pattern of mastication and height of bone in the alveolar ridge. However in instances of severe tooth decay the roots will have to be removed.