When a dentist removes a tooth, they usually remove the roots too, unless they plan to use those roots to support a denture. That way, there will be no leftover tissue to serve as food for invading bacteria. However, when a tooth is badly damaged by trauma or decay, the roots are sometimes the only part of the tooth that remains.
When this happens, the gum tissue heals over the roots either partially or completely. Although not all retained roots will become a problem, many will. You might not experience any complications for several years or more. However, if an infection occurs, it may be time to have them removed.
Retained Roots Can Get Infected
Much like impacted teeth, which become lodged in gum or bone, retained roots can give rise to infection. This is especially true if the roots are only partially covered. Because the roots are essentially dead material, they can become food for bacteria. Bacteria infect retained roots in much the same way as they do teeth or gums—by entering them at the earliest opportunity.
Once bacteria invade retained roots, an abscess forms. Trapped inside your gum, this abscess will fill with white cells, dead bacterial organisms, and other waste material. If this abscess is not treated early, the pus, which is toxic to biological material such as bone, will begin to damage your jawbone.
Infections can also occur in short but frequent bouts that gradually cause the bone in the surrounding area to break down. If enough bone is lost, you may not have enough bone for dental implants unless you get a bone graft to replace the lost bone.
Now to answer one very common question.
The Process of Retained Root Removal
If a retained root has remained in place for several years, it is likely that at least part of the gum tissue has grown over it. Sometimes, the entirety of the root may be covered. Unfortunately, this case might call for the removal of gum or bone tissue. When a dentist has to remove bone during extraction of a retained root, they may replace the bone with a bone graft.
In simple cases, where the roots are visible and exposed, a dentist will need little more than dental forceps to remove the retained roots.
If you have retained roots and are worried that something isn't right, see your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you get dental aid, the sooner you can remove any existing infection.Share
30 January 2019
I have worked as a school nurse for decades. Children come to me with all sorts of scrapes and bumps and bruises. Black eyes from playing football, sprained wrists from falling off the monkey bars and stomachaches from too many sweets are common complaints. However, the issue that seems to cause the greatest angst is tooth problems. Sometimes a child will have a second tooth knocked out when playing sport and parents arrive in tears. At other times, children come to my office crying because their friends are teasing them about teeth that are discoloured or stick out. I take an active interest in the latest dental news so that I can give parents and children comfort and advice. I have included some of my collected wisdom on these pages. Perhaps this information can help you understand some options when faced with a dental problem. Thank you for reading.