About a year ago I had a bad tooth. I went to my dentist and he told me I would need a root canal on that tooth. I was going on vacation in the couple of weeks after that appointment, and the pain kind of went away. So I haven’t been back for that root canal. How long can I safely let that tooth go before getting the root canal?
Matt, Roseville, CA
That’s a hard question to answer without seeing your tooth or knowing your history, but there are some signs to look for that you need to get the root canal your dentist recommended.
• If it starts hurting just a little bit or the pain comes and goes, it is a sign there is a progressing infection in your tooth and needs to be taken care of soon.
• If it hurts like it did before, you will want to get it done right away.
• A “bubble” or pimple on your gums near the end of the root of the tooth indicates a pocket of infection and needs dental attention. It’s not necessarily a dental emergency, but you need to get the root canal done.
There are some patients who don’t know they have an infected tooth for several years and don’t get the root canal they need and don’t seem much worse off. For most, though, having an infection in your tooth is not something you want to delay taking care of. It can sometimes eat away the roots of the tooth if left unchecked too long. Especially if the infection is from decay, it will continue growing until roots aren’t able to be saved. When the roots are damaged like this, you may lose that tooth.
So while you may not need to get in today for that needed root canal, watch for signs that it’s time to revisit that conversation with your dentist.
This post is sponsored by Angel Dental Care of Akron, Ohio.