What Happens If You Leave A Root Canal Untreated?

If you have ever wondered how long you can go without getting a root canal, you are not alone. Root canals have a bit of an undeserved reputation for being painful, so the thought of undergoing the procedure can be scary for some. At Believe Dental Care in Swanton, OH, we hope understanding the procedure and the delay’s impact will motivate you to get your tooth taken care of as soon as possible, saving you a lot of pain.  

What is a Root Canal?  

A root canal treatment is designed to eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal, prevent reinfection of the tooth and save the natural tooth. It’s necessary when oral bacteria invade the pulp (the tooth’s soft core that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue). This usually happens when a cavity is left untreated for a long time or if your tooth is cracked or damaged due to trauma. During a root canal procedure, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed, and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned, disinfected, filled, and sealed.  

What Are Signs You Need a Root Canal?  

There are a few symptoms that mean you might need a root canal:   

  • Darkened tooth  
  • Loose tooth   
  • A chipped or cracked tooth   
  • Swollen, puffy, or tender gums  
  • Severe pain while chewing or biting   
  • Deep decay or darkening of the gums   
  • Tooth pain that doesn’t go away or discomfort that radiates to your jaw, face, or other teeth   
  • Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold, even after the sensation has been removed   
  • Pimples on the gums (pus from the infected tooth may drain from the pimple, causing an unpleasant taste or smell)  

How Painful is a Root Canal?

The thought of a root canal often brings fear and anxiety to many people, as it is widely believed to be a painful procedure. However, with modern anesthesia and technology, root canals are generally less painful than they once were.

During the procedure, local anesthesia is administered to numb the affected area. This ensures that the patient does not feel any pain during the procedure.

After the procedure, patients may experience some discomfort or sensitivity in the treated area. However, this can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medication and should subside within a few days. 

Do You Always Need a Crown After a Root Canal?   

The general rule of thumb is that a dental crown must be placed over a tooth that has just received a root canal. However, this isn’t always necessary. These factors will be considered when deciding whether to restore your tooth with a crown.   

  • Location of the tooth: If the tooth receiving a root canal is in the back (molars or premolars), the greater likelihood that you’ll need a dental crown. That’s because these teeth must withstand all the pressure of chewing and grinding and may require the extra strength a crown can provide. However, the front teeth (your canines and incisors) might be perfectly fine without a crown, depending on the level of excavation.  
  • Condition of the tooth: The more injured or infected the tooth, the higher the chances that you’ll need a dental crown – the dentist must excavate a large amount of the tooth during the root canal procedure, and you’ll likely need a crown to reinforce the tooth. Also, if the tooth has undergone several restoration procedures, including the root canal, you’ll likely need a crown to maintain its appearance and function. On the other hand, molars and premolars that maintain a large amount of natural tooth structure and are at low risk for fracture might be suitable for filling-only restorations after a root canal.   

What Can I Do Instead of Root Canal Treatment?  

Once the pulp is infected, a filling or antibiotics will not resolve the problem, and the only alternative is to extract the damaged/infected tooth.   

How Long Can I Ignore Root Canal Treatment?  

If your dentist determines that you require a root canal, you have developed an infection in your tooth. Left untreated, the infection will continue spreading to the surrounding teeth, bone, and soft tissue, resulting in unbearable pain, dental abscess, bone loss, and tooth loss. The infection might even spread to other parts of your body and can lead to serious complications like a stroke, heart attack, or life-threatening sepsis.   

Schedule Your Root Canal Appointment Today!  

If you need a root canal, there’s no need to be worried. Root canals are relatively painless, extremely effective, and often the best way to save your tooth. Come to Believe Dental Care in Swanton, OH, and you’ll be back to smiling, biting, and chewing easily in no time. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!