The Dangers of Delaying a Root Canal

By August 16, 2016Dental Pain

Why putting off a root canal is going to hurt in the long run

don't put off your root canalPutting off dental hygiene is never a good idea; delaying a root canal is definitely never a good idea.

A root canal is an important procedure that is meant to repair a damaged tooth in an effort to save it. Simply put, the infected or injured sponge-like pulp is removed as well as the nerve, the area is cleaned, and the tooth is sealed up again. Without this protection, an infection will not heal itself; it will just get worse.

  1. Infection
  2. Abscesses
  3. Tooth Loss


An infection in the root canal of a tooth can be exceptionally damaging. In addition to swelling that can start to spread to the face, the neck, and even the entire head, an infection can affect the integrity of the bone, causing not only loss, but tiny holes throughout the tooth enamel that can drain down into the mouth, the gums, and even into the skin.


Without properly taking care of a damaged or infected tooth that needs a root canal, another danger is that an abscess – a pocket filled with pus- can form near the tooth, which can also lead to additional infection.  An abscess forming near the tooth can start with a throbbing pain and then escalate over time, or it can be a sudden and fierce pain that can stop normal daily activities. Abscesses can also make it extremely difficult to chew and to eat.

Tooth Loss

A root canal is meant to save a tooth that will be lost otherwise. Without the root canal procedure, the decay that is affecting the enamel, the pulp and the root canal area itself will continue on, increasing the likelihood of infection. The longer the root canal is delayed, the less likely it is that the tooth can be saved.  If the root canal is postponed too long, not only will the painful symptoms continue and increase, but the pulp will eventually die and the tooth will have to be extracted.

It is true that at one-time root canals were very painful and that reputation has continued today, despite the facts that science has improved and modern anesthetics have made it no more painful than the standard cavity filling; that is, virtually painless. Root canals are meant to relieve the pain that a patient is already experiencing and prevent further infection; the procedure should not be delayed.