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How Long Can I Delay Root Canal or Tooth Removal?

Posted by AllSmiles

A crown on my upper left first molar broke. My dentist said that the tooth had died, and if he could not remove all the decay, he would refer me to an oral surgeon to remove the tooth. Then, he would place a dental bridge. I asked my dentist to refer me to an endodontist, and I have an appointment in two weeks. I read online that a dental implant is better than a bridge. Is there any reason I should have the tooth removed right away? How long can I wait before this becomes a bigger problem? – Thank you. Selina from Allegheny, PA


Thank you for your question. Dr. Goebel would need to examine your teeth and x-rays. But we can offer some insight.

Removing vs. Saving a Tooth

Diagram of three phases of a dental implant: separate compoonent, implant screw in the bone, and the crown attached
An implant dentist or root canal specialist can help

If a tooth is healthy enough to save and will not negatively affect your oral health, it is best to save it. Although dental implants are a highly effective tooth replacement, healthy natural teeth are better. We recommend that you keep your appointment with the endodontist (root canal specialist) for a second opinion.

How Long Can You Wait Before a Root Canal?

You did not mention if your tooth hurts, but the specialist will need to check for the extent of the infection. Without treatment, infection will continue to spread. So, the condition of your teeth and your oral health will continue to decline without root canal treatment.

Also, if the tooth requires removal, leaving the space without a dental implant will allow other teeth to drift into the area. Tooth misalignment can lead to other issues like jaw pain or the need for orthodontic treatment.

Get a Second Opinion

Your dentist seems uncomfortable replacing your tooth with a dental implant and crown. Even if your dentist would refer you to an oral surgeon for implant placement, we are concerned about his experience with implant crowns and crowns in general. After your appointment with the root canal specialist, we recommend scheduling an appointment with an experienced dentist to discuss your options after root canal treatment or extraction.


Moline, Illinois dentist, Dr. Thomas Goebel, sponsors this post.