Consequences of Delaying a Root Canal | Southwest Endodontics
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Consequences of Delaying a Root Canal

consequences of delaying a root canal

Consequences of Delaying a Root Canal

Key Takeaways:

    Recognizing the Signs: Recognizing signs that could indicate you need a root canal is critical, including pain when chewing, an increase in temperature sensitivity, an irritated gum line, or visible cracks or damage. As soon as these symptoms surface, promptly seeking evaluation from an endodontist will reduce further complications.

    Consequences of Delay: Postponing or forgoing root canal treatment could have serious repercussions, including bone and tooth loss, abscess formation, spreading the infection to nearby tissues, increasing pain levels, and cosmetic issues such as discolored teeth. Timely treatment must be undertaken to avoid further damage and discomfort.

    Understanding the Procedure: Gaining an understanding of root canal procedures can ease concerns and dispel misconceptions surrounding them. A typical root canal involves extracting infected pulp from your tooth and cleaning and sealing it to protect it from future issues. Modern technologies like GentleWave offer more efficient and comfortable experiences for patients; most experience minimal discomfort within 48 hours after treatment with professionals like Southwest Endodontics providing effective yet compassionate care.

With myths surrounding root canals, delaying this procedure becomes too easy for many people. However, if you feel tempted to avoid getting a root canal, you need to recognize that you put yourself at risk of multiple serious issues.

Signs You May Need a Root Canal

You need a root canal whenever the inside of your tooth becomes infected. But how does the sealed interior of the tooth become infected?

The infection starts with an opening in the enamel and dentin in the tooth, allowing bacteria inside the pulp. Once in the pulp, the bacteria multiply, causing pain and pressure in the tooth as the growing infection impacts the tooth nerve.

Root canal therapy aims to remove the infection, allowing the patient to keep the tooth instead of having it pulled.

You may discover that you need a root canal after a sudden accident that causes a crack or other traumatic injury to a tooth. Or, you could slowly develop decay, creating a deep cavity that eventually reaches the pulp. Watch out for the following symptoms in a tooth that may show you need a root canal:

  • Pain when chewing
  • Heightened and prolonged sensitivity to temperature extremes
  • Pimple at the base of a tooth on the gums
  • Darkened gums
  • Swelling around the tooth
  • Visible crack or tooth damage

Talk to an endodontist as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms of needing a root canal. The longer you wait for an evaluation, the more likely you will experience the consequences of putting off a root canal.

Consequences of Delaying a Root Canal

Teeth with internal infections cannot heal on their own. Root canal therapy is a painless way to have the infection cleared from the tooth. A few days after treatment, you’ll notice that the pain and sensitivity you had from your tooth’s infection disappear.

Don’t delay getting the treatment you need to stop your tooth pain. If you do, you could risk the following repercussions of delaying or not getting root canal therapy:

Bone and Tooth Loss

Root canal therapy is often the only alternative to dental extraction and can help you save your natural teeth, but if you wait too long, you may not have the option to get a root canal.

The most dire consequence of not getting a timely root canal is the increased chance of bone loss. The infection inside the tooth can, over time, erode the bone that keeps the tooth in place. Once this bone has too much damage, the mouth can no longer hold the tooth in place properly, and root canal therapy cannot save it. The only option at this point is extraction.


One of the byproducts of an infection is pus, and this also develops inside your tooth’s pulp when you have an infection. The bacteria infecting your pulp can develop at the root end of the tooth. There, the pus creates a pocket, known as an abscess, at the base of the tooth.

An abscess is a painful consequence of the infection in your tooth. You may develop a fever, a bad taste in your mouth, swelling, and serious pain when you have one. Root canal therapy can both prevent an abscess and treat it. However, delaying the treatment of an abscess can lead to the spread of the infection.

Spreading Infection

Infections will spread as much as possible because the bacteria at their core will continue to multiply. Therefore, leaving a damaged tooth untreated can cause an infection, which can produce an abscess. Without intervention, the infection inside the abscess can spread away from the tooth.

Impacted parts of the body from a spreading infection can include the surrounding teeth, jaw bone, and nearby tissues. Once the infection spreads, you may need additional treatments to stop it.

Increased Pain

As the bacteria inside your tooth multiply, you will likely feel pain and may also experience pressure and swelling. The longer you wait to get the infection treated, the more time you will live with pain in your tooth. Why would you continue to live in pain when a painless root canal can stop it?

Darkened Tooth

While many of the problems that arise from not getting a root canal are medical, one is cosmetic. Your infected tooth could darken, creating an unsightly appearance when you smile.

An infected tooth can sometimes become discolored from the inside out. The darkening of one tooth often indicates that you need a root canal due to internal damage to the tooth. When this happens, whitening toothpaste won’t fix the problem. You need to have the internal infection treated with a root canal. Then, talk to your dentist about a veneer to cover the discolored tooth.

What Happens During a Root Canal?

Sometimes, people delay a root canal because they don’t know what will happen or they think that the procedure causes pain. Understanding what happens when you get a root canal can make seeking this treatment easier.

Your endodontist will prepare your mouth for the procedure by placing a dental dam inside to isolate the tooth that needs the root canal. You will also have local anesthesia injected into the area to ensure that you are completely numb from the beginning to the end of the procedure.

To remove the infection, the endodontist will create a small opening in the crown of the tooth. Some endodontists use files to clear out the tooth, but the most up-to-date doctors will use GentleWave water and sound waves to clean the tooth. This process requires a smaller opening than traditional root canals that use files, and it more thoroughly clears infection out of the tooth. The GentleWave system makes the healing process easier, too. Only 48 hours after a GentleWave root canal, 96.6% of patients had little to no pain.

Once the doctor removes the infection from the tooth, they will seal and fill the tooth to prevent future problems.

Avoid Delaying a Root Canal and Contact Southwest Endodontics for an Appointment

Now that you’ve seen the dangers of delaying your root canal treatment, you should take the first step in avoiding them by contacting us at Southwest Endodontics. We specialize in delivering painless, compassionate care to all our patients using the latest technology, such as the GentleWave system. Let us help you, too.