Hello,

My dentist told me I needed a root canal on my tooth, but I don’t have any pain. How long can I put off getting a root canal?

Haruka, from West Virginia

Hi Haruka,

If your tooth is not hurting, or has not hurt in awhile, it may be ok to delay it. It may be what’s called an arrested infection or a latent infection — you may have one but not know it. However, you can still be affected by the infection even if it doesn’t cause pain. Putting off a root canal raises the risk of external resorption —slowly, the infection will eventually kill the root, and the tooth won’t be salvageable. However, an infection caused by active decay will continue until the tooth is destroyed, and action must be taken immediately.

Even without pain, if you have a red pimple-like spot on your gum near the root tip, or the infection is draining in your mouth, these are signs of an active infection. You should make an appointment with your general dentist to get this taken care of. If your pain comes back or you feel severe pain, you should see an emergency dentist.

This blog post is brought to you by Gilbert emergency dentist, Dr. Matthew Roper, of Vista Dorada Dental.