3 Dangers Of Leaving A Root Canal Infection Untreated

The root canal carries pulp material containing tissue and nerve and blood cells through the center of the tooth. A periodontal infection caused by harmful plaque buildup can move into the root canal and threaten the life of the tooth and the health of surrounding gum tissue and jawbone. Root canal infections can be asymptomatic at first or present with seemingly mild symptoms that make it seem as if treatment can wait for a while.

But leaving a root canal infection untreated has a few potential problems, such as the ones below:

Tooth Abscess

Infectious material from the root canal can spread down into the tooth root and into the nearby gum tissue where a pus-filled pocket can form, called a tooth abscess. The abscess can cause pain, tooth sensitivity, and the further spread of the infection.

The tooth abscess in the gums, if left untreated, can slowly wear through the jawbone and form a canal called a fistula. This fistula allows the infection to spread from your gums to the sinus cavity or even your bloodstream. Spreading infection can lead to sinus or ear infections or the dangerous blood infection sepsis. If sepsis is left untreated, the results can be fatal.

You can stop the abscess from progressing into a fistula by having the infection treated as soon as it appears. Antibiotics and a root canal procedure are usually sufficient treatments.


Root canal infections can inflame the pulp. The inflammation, called pulpitis, can start to press the edges of the canal and the pulp against the hard surrounding dentin, and can start to cause permanent damage to the pulp.

Pulpitis can present as a simple toothache or as a radiating pain that makes it hard to track down the source of the problem. If the pulpitis is allowed to continue, the pulp and canal will suffer so much damage that your dentist can't fix the problem. The only treatment option will then be extraction.

Visit your dentist as soon as you feel oral pain. If the pain comes from beginning pulpitis, a root canal can ease the inflammation and potentially save the tooth.

Receding Gums

An infection spreading from the tooth to gums can cause more problems than a tooth abscess. The infection in the gums can start to wear down the soft tissue. If left untreated over a long period of time, this wearing down can lead to gum recession.

Receding gums can make teeth look too large and risk exposing the teeth roots that are concealed and protected by the soft tissue. Exposed roots can cause pain and the risk of damage that can potentially kill the tooth.

The only way to fix receded gums is a gum graft, which uses excess tissue from the roof of your mouth to fill in the gaps. But it's far easier if you go to the dentist when pain begins to treat the root canal infection before soft tissue damage starts.

For more information about root canals, visit a dentist in your area like Tyler Dental Artz Root Canals.