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

root canals

Your dentist has told you that you need a root canal. Maybe you have a fear of the dentist, can’t afford a root canal treatment, or are simply busy and think about forgoing the root canal. What would happen if you decided not to get the treatment?

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal is the treatment needed when the pulp, or the soft tissue inside of the tooth containing blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue deep inside of the root of the tooth, becomes infected. Infections usually occurs due to an injury, a chip or crack in the tooth, or a severe, untreated cavity. The root canal consists of creating an opening in the tooth to remove the infected pulp and then sealing the tooth to prevent against future infection.

Can a tooth that needs a root canal heal itself?

Unfortunately, the infected pulp of the tooth will not heal on its own and requires a root canal to properly be treated. Sometimes, patients may think a tooth infection has healed itself once they no longer feel pain in their tooth, but this just signals that the nerves inside of the tooth have died. While the patient may no longer feel pain, the infection will still be present inside the tooth. Left untreated, the bacterial infection can spread to your jaw, your brain, your blood, and your body.


Dentists want to ensure that patients can keep their natural teeth as long as possible. Not only is it more comfortable, but teeth help stimulate the jawbone and keep it from deteriorating.

Although it’s not an ideal situation, the infected pulp can be treated by having the entire tooth extracted, or if the infection is not properly taken care of, the entire tooth could be lost from decay and infection. Both options will later require more oral surgery with the placement of a dental implant to keep avoid shifting and drifting of other teeth and maintain their bite. Root canals give the dentist a chance to save the natural tooth and better preserve the structure of a patient’s natural smile.

Other Medical Conditions

If a root canal is delayed for too long, the bacterial infection can spread to other areas of the mouth, putting the patient at risk for serious dental problems and other medical conditions. The infection can cause something called a dental abscess, which is a pus filled sac that requires immediate medical attention. Left untreated, dental abscesses can lead to serious complications like a stroke, heart attack, or life threatening sepsis.

Are There Other Treatment Options?

Aside from getting your tooth extracted, there are no other options to treat infected pulp than a root canal. A filling will not resolve the problem, nor will antibiotics permanently resolve the infection. Root canal treatment is an essential dental treatment to maintain proper dental and overall health.

Sedation Dentistry

If fear of the dentist is keeping you from getting proper treatment, ask your dentist about sedation dentistry. Two of our dentists at Dansville Dental Professional are licensed in IV sedation. Sedation dentistry allows patients to be relaxed and comfortable, and they will not remember the treatment. Most IV sedation patients feel like they slept through the entire procedure.

Schedule a Root Canal

If you have a root canal, it’s time to get treated. Contact Dansville Dental Professionals today to set up an appointment with one of our trained dentists.