The Risks of Delaying a Root Canal

Dentists perform 15 million root canals a year, but even more people than that need a root canal and put off their appointment until it’s too late. Are you among the “root canal delayers”? If so, you may need to rethink your approach.

At the Washington, DC, dental practice of Dr. Margaret Culotta-Norton and Dr. Peter Grinc, root canals are part of the everyday scope of our practice. We can assure you, biting the proverbial bullet and coming in for a root canal procedure is definitely better than the alternative, in more ways than one.  

Why you might need a root canal

Hard white enamel makes up the outside surface of your tooth, protecting the thick layer of dentin that accounts for most of your tooth’s structure. Inside the dentin are the roots of your teeth, and inside each root is a nerve surrounded by soft pulp. When your teeth are developing, the pulp helps them grow and mature. Once your teeth are done maturing, the pulp is unnecessary. 

If you have a hole in your tooth (also known as a cavity or caries), the pulp can get infected by bacteria. When your tooth pulp gets infected, you’ll have intense pain that gets worse when you eat something hot or cold, or when you bite down or release pressure on your teeth. The pulp squeezes on the nerve, which sends intense pain signals to your brain. 

If you need a root canal, Dr. Culotta-Norton will carefully make an opening on the top of your tooth. She can scrape out the infected pulp and the old nerve, then sterilize the inside of your tooth. She’ll then refill the empty cavity inside your tooth root with a hard, durable material called gutta-percha, and you’ll get a crown that looks just like your original tooth to complete the restoration.

Risks of delaying root canal treatment

Untreated, an infected root can cause a lot of issues. Infection can spread to the gum tissue, the muscle and connective tissue of your cheek, and even your underlying bone structure. You could even end up losing your tooth

The arch of your teeth is like an arched bridge, and losing one tooth is like losing a wedge that keeps the arch intact. The teeth on either side of the gap start to drift into the empty space, until they loosen and fall out, and the cycle continues. 

You can stop the collapse of your arch by getting a dental implant, but this is much more costly and invasive than simply getting a root canal in the first place. If you’re in a world of hurt, don’t delay —  call our office to see if a root canal performed by Dr. Culotta-Norton or Dr. Grinc can free you from pain and protect your tooth. Contact our office today at 202-833-1111 or book your visit online.

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