smiling older woman in dental exam chair

What Happens If You Don’t Get a Root Canal?

If you’ve been told that you need a root canal, it’s important not to delay your treatment. Opting not to get a root canal doesn’t mean your dental issue will go away—instead, you can expect that your situation will only get more complicated as time goes on and, ultimately, require more extensive treatment.

Why Root Canals Are Needed

At the center of every tooth, under the enamel and dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. This pulp is rich in blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues and it extends to the roots of the teeth.

Sometimes, a deep cavity will reach the tooth’s pulp, causing it to become infected. Other times, the pulp becomes inflamed after a fracture or dental injury. Common signs that you might need a root canal include:

  • Severe pain when biting down or chewing food
  • Small, white bumps on the gums
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold sensations
  • Gums that are swollen or tender, or that appear darker

Whether infected or inflamed, a root canal is needed to remove the pulp and restore health to your tooth.

What Happens When You Don’t Get a Root Canal

When the pulp in your tooth is compromised, it’s not an issue that will eventually resolve on its own. If your root canal is needed because the pulp is infected, it’s possible for the infection to spread to other parts of your body, which can be a life-threatening medical emergency. Inflamed pulp tissue may become infected if it’s exposed after a tooth fracture.

The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more likely it is that bone loss will occur in the jaw; at this point, a root canal may no longer be a possibility and your tooth could need to be extracted. This presents its own issues—if you don’t replace the tooth in a timely manner, it can further compromise your jawbone and cause your teeth to start to shift in your mouth.

Of course, the most immediate consequence of not getting a root canal when you need one is that you will experience pain and discomfort that could be avoided. Although they have a reputation for being painful, root canals are used to treat dental pain. There’s no need to suffer with a painful tooth when you don’t have to.

Root Canals and Dental Anxiety

If the reason you’re not getting the root canal you need is because you have anxiety about the procedure, rest assured that the idea of root canals being painful is an unfortunate myth. With modern endodontic techniques and local anesthetic to numb the tooth, most patients leave our office with a sense of relief: not only was their root canal more comfortable than they expected, but their dental pain is finally resolved.

We encourage you to schedule an appointment for a consultation with us to discuss the procedure so you can learn more about the process and meet our doctor in person. Should you still have anxiety, we offer conscious oral sedation and nitrous oxide to help you relax during your root canal treatment.

Learn More About Root Canal Treatment

To learn more about getting a root canal, contact us today at 810-732-7900 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.