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How Long Can a Root Canal Be Put Off?


How Long Can a Root Canal Be Put Off?

Posted by writeradmin

I’ve been told I need a root canal treatment but my last two paychecks have been pretty small due to an illness I’ve had. Is it okay to put it off for a bit? If so, when will I know if it is time to find a way to make it happen?


Dear Cameron,

man grabbing his jaw in pain and in need of an emergency dentist

I’m glad you wrote. This is tricky because I don’t have much information on your particular case. However, I can give some general ideas. These are not absolutes, so err on the side of caution, please.

When You Definitely Need to See a Dentist

First, if there is pain of any kind, even just a little, you will want to see a dentist. This includes pain that has recently stopped. These are signs of an active, growing infection. You do not want this to spread outside of the tooth.

Second, if there is a pimple on your gums near the tip of the root, you will want to see a dentist. This infection is spilling out.

I’m not saying you have to see a dentist today like a dental emergency, but you will want to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience. Dental infections do spread. If they are left untreated, then you could end up with something life threatening. Your jaw is quite close to your brain, throat, and heart.

When It Is Safe to Wait

If your tooth has not hurt for some time, then you are probably safe to wait for a bit. You could have an arrested infection. Be aware of two things with this. Having any infection in your body, whether arrested or not, affects your general health. The effect can be subtle enough where you don’t notice it until after the infection is dealt with and you suddenly feel better, or it can drain you and make it hard for you to get through your normal activities.

A second thing to be aware of is that you risk external resorption. This is when the infection slowly eats away the root of the tooth. Eventually, the root is eaten away so much that the tooth can no longer be saved. That means you’re left with an extraction and tooth replacement. A root canal treatment is much more affordable than something like a dental implant.

This blog is brought to you by Mt. Dora Dentist Dr. Michelle Stillman.