Consequences of Delaying a Root Canal

A twinge of tooth pain sends you to the dentist, thinking you may have a developing cavity in need of a filling. Instead, the dentist informs you that you need a root canal. 

The idea of a root canal sounds unpleasant, so instead of finding an endodontist to schedule the procedure, you wait. After all, you figure, what can go wrong by putting it off for a little while? 

Unfortunately, a lot.

The consequences of delaying a root canal can range from increased pain to a total loss of the tooth. Find out why you should not avoid putting off your root canal, no longer how tempting it is to delay.

Why Do I Need a Root Canal?

First, to recognize why putting off your root canal is dangerous, it’s important to understand why this procedure is so important to maintaining a healthy mouth.

Endodontists use root canal therapy to preserve a natural tooth at risk of extraction due to decay or damage. The American Association of Endodontists outlines the most common reasons for needing a root canal:

  • Chipped or Cracked tooth
  • Multiple prior dental procedures performed on a tooth
  • Deep decay that reaches the pulp of the tooth
  • Injury to the tooth that damages the pulp, even without visible damage or pain
  • A damaged or faulty dental crown

Any of the above scenarios can lead to inflammation or infection of the pulp deep inside the tooth. Inflamed pulp causes pain, which is often associated with the need for a root canal.

To stop infection, an endodontist must clean out the inflamed pulp. You’ll feel better quickly after the procedure and get to keep your natural tooth.

What Are the Consequences of Delaying a Root Canal?

While most people don’t have to get a root canal immediately the same day they find out they need one, delaying the procedure too long can lead to dire consequences, including losing one of your natural teeth.

Tooth Loss

The most severe consequence of delaying root canal therapy is tooth loss. A root canal can save a tooth in many cases, but if the infection in the pulp causes too much bone loss, an endodontist won’t be able to save the tooth.

How much time do you have before a root canal will no longer save the tooth? The answer depends on your particular case. Waiting a couple of days likely won’t make a difference, but putting off the procedure a couple of months might. To avoid tooth loss, you should not delay scheduling your root canal appointment.

Prolonged or Worsening Pain

Root canal therapy relieves your mouth of any infection and stops tooth pain. Unfortunately, the longer you wait to get this procedure, the longer you will have to live with the pain. In some cases, you may even have worsening tooth pain in the days leading up to your root canal.

Getting root canal treatment promptly reduces the number of days living with uncomfortable dental pain.

Spreading Infection

An abscess occurs when you have an infection that creates a pus pocket under your tooth. Treatment for this condition can include root canal therapy or endodontic surgery, depending on the location of the abscess. If you fail to get endodontic treatment promptly, the infection may spread from your tooth to other parts of your body, according to WebMD.

Combatting the Excuses

People try to put off a medically necessary root canal with a variety of excuses. However, most have their roots in myth. If you find yourself delaying your root canal for any of the following reasons, read on and learn the truth about getting this procedure as soon as possible.

Excuse: A Root Canal Hurts

Being afraid of potential pain during a root canal is very common. According to an American Association of Endodontists survey, 67% of Americans report feeling afraid that the procedure will hurt.

During the procedure, you should not feel any pain. You will have local anesthesia to keep the tooth completely numb. You may feel so relaxed that you’ll want to take a nap. Feel free to do so! The endodontist has everything under control during your root canal therapy.

After your anesthesia wears off, you may have minor tenderness for a few days. Each day you’ll feel less pain until it disappears completely. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help to control this discomfort.

Excuse: I Don’t Have Time

Some people think that they don’t have the time to get a root canal. Today, endodontists use specialty tools, such as the GentleWave, to allow them to perform root canals more precisely and quickly. With the power and efficiency of the GentleWave system’s ability to thoroughly clean out your tooth, you may only need one appointment for your root canal.

Additionally, it’s important to consider recovery time. After a root canal, you can return to work. However, if you choose the only alternative to this treatment, tooth extraction, the recovery time could increase dramatically. Not only could you find yourself needing to take a few days off while your extraction site heals, but if you opt to have an implant placed you will need multiple additional surgeries.

Overall, your root canal may require significantly less time than a dental extraction.

Excuse: A Root Canal Is Too Expensive

When looking at the overall cost of root canal therapy, look at the total price and compare it to alternatives. Some people will need a crown over the tooth after the root canal.

Compare these prices to the cost of having your tooth pulled and an implant placed. Not only does the extraction and implant process take more time, it often costs more money.

If cost is a concern causing you to delay your root canal, talk to your endodontist’s office about payment options.

Next Step: Schedule a Visit

So, what’s next for you? If you already have had an endodontist or dentist tell you that you need a root canal, contact us at Ballantyne Endodontics. Our team works to preserve the natural teeth of those in the Charlotte area through expertly delivered endodontic treatments.

Let us help you to avoid the consequences of delaying a root canal by reaching out to us today.