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What happens if you delay root canal?

June 4, 2024

Root Canals are an extremely safe, straightforward, and common dental treatment for decayed or infected teeth. It is normal to feel some anxiety or uneasiness in the beginning, but there is nothing to worry about. In fact, if you delay the procedure, it may cause you greater harm. So, let us find out what happens if you delay root canal treatment.

9 things that happen if you delay Root Canal

The consequences of delay in root canal treatment are given below:

Severe Pain

Root canal therapy addresses infections within the innermost layer of your tooth. These infections cause intense pain, far more severe than the discomfort experienced during the procedure itself. Without proper root canal treatment, the infection will continue to worsen over time and cause unbearable pain and discomfort.

The goal of a root canal is to remove the infection, allow the tooth to heal, and provide relief from pain and discomfort. By delaying root canal treatment, you are increasing your suffering rather than curing it.

Tooth Loss

Root canals are done to save your natural tooth. Since there's no perfect substitute for a natural tooth, dentists try to avoid extraction whenever possible. However, delaying your root canal procedure can make this goal unattainable.

The longer you postpone a root canal, the more the infection spreads and worsens. As a result, your tooth will continue to decay and may require extraction. This would necessitate additional treatments like dental implants, bridges, or dentures. Such tooth loss is preventable with timely root canal treatment.

Acute Dental Abscess

An acute dental abscess is a severe oral health condition that requires immediate emergency treatment. These abscesses are pockets of pus that form at the root of the tooth in the infected tissue, often due to an untreated infection in the tooth's dentin.

Symptoms include unbearable pain, swelling, and fever. In some cases, the swelling may obstruct the airway and cause difficulty in breathing. If it is not treated, the infection spreads to the brain and causes life-threatening complications.


Delaying root canal treatment leads to sepsis, a life-threatening condition that damages multiple organs. As the infection worsens, bacteria overwhelm the tooth, causing severe decay. A hole forms on the side of the tooth and allows the infection to drain into the gums, cheek, skin, and bloodstream. Sepsis occurs when this infection enters the bloodstream.

Bone Loss

An untreated infection and delayed root canal can also affect your jawbone. The infection moves downward, attacking the tip of the tooth's root, resulting in severe root decay and significant bone loss.

Pressure and Swelling

Infections can cause swelling and pressure in the face, head, and neck. As the infection spreads, you will experience increased sensitivity and pain.

Spread of Infection

Bacteria that start in a damaged or decayed tooth won't stay localized. If untreated, the infection will spread to neighboring teeth, surrounding bone tissue, and throughout your mouth. The infection won't stop on its own and will continue to cause further health complications. 

Systemic Inflammation

An untreated tooth infection can cause inflammation to spread throughout your body, known as systemic inflammation. This increases the chance of developing serious conditions like heart disease or suffering a stroke. Because infections can easily spread from the mouth to other parts of the body, it's crucial to cure the infection as quickly as possible.

More Difficult Treatment

Root canals are straightforward, safe, and highly effective procedures. They offer a fast recovery time compared to extractions or implants and are painless. Root canals are the preferred method for treating infections within the tooth.

However, delaying the treatment makes it more complicated and costly. As the infection worsens and spreads to surrounding teeth, jawbone, and tissue, it becomes harder for the dentist to remove the decayed material. This increases the likelihood of needing a tooth extraction and requires more intensive treatment, resulting in a longer recovery period.


So, what happens if you delay root canal? Delaying a root canal leads to severe complications, from extreme pain and tooth loss to systemic infections and more complex, costly treatments. You must address dental issues with a root canal to prevent negative outcomes. 

Don't delay your root canal treatment. Contact Peak Dental Group in Calgary, AB, for expert advice and prompt care. Book an appointment online or call us at (403) 774-9604 for existing patients and 587-200-5742 for new patients. Your dental health is our priority!

FAQs on What happens if you delay root canal

What happens if you delay root canal?

Delaying a root canal can lead to increased pain, tooth loss, dental abscesses, and the spread of infection. It can also result in more complicated and expensive treatments.

Can a tooth heal without a root canal?

An infected tooth cannot heal on its own without a root canal or extraction. The infection will continue to spread, causing more damage and pain.

How long can you wait to get a root canal?

It is best not to wait once a root canal is recommended. Delay in treatment can increase the risk of complications and more severe dental issues.


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