Theriot Family Dental

Delaying a Root Canal Treatment

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I have a tooth infection that needs a root canal treatment. I’m quite busy at the moment and am wondering how long I can put off getting the root canal treatment before it becomes an issue? I don’t want to put myself in danger but I also have important things to take care of.


Dear Luke,

Man holding his jaw in pain, in need of emergency dental care.

It would be irresponsible of me to give you a definitive answer without examining you or at least seeing very recent x-rays. However, I can give you some general guidance. One thing you will want to determine is whether or not you have an active infection. That would be indicated by pain, or a pimple on your gums. Active tooth infections are considered a dental emergency. I would not say you had to go in today, but I would not put it off too long. A dental infection will spread until the infected pulp is physically removed by the dentist. One of the reasons you do not want to put it off is because of how close your jaw is to your heart, lungs, and brain.

If you are not in pain, you can probably wait for a bit. However, that does not mean it will not be doing damage in other ways. It is possible that it is eating away at part of your tooth which will, in time, make it unsalvageable. This will mean you have an additional expense of a tooth replacement, but that is up to you. If that does happen, I would suggest a dental implant. You should be aware that when you have an infected tooth, even an inactive one can have an impact on your overall general health.

I know of one case where a man had an inactive infection for several years. However, once he had the tooth treated, he realized how much better he felt when the tooth was removed.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Dr. John Theriot.