Wondering how much does a root canal cost? It’s definitely not as cheap as a dental filling and usually costs more than a crown. But there are different factors that influence root canal cost, meaning they can fluctuate significantly from person to person.
Do I need a root canal?
The cost of root canal treatment aside, you need root canal therapy if the nerve to your tooth is compromised, infected, or dying. There is simply no other way to repair a tooth with necrotic nerve tissue inside it other than to get a root canal.
- Your dentist will most likely recommend a root canal for situations involving:
- nervous death, due to traumatic injury
- cracked teeth or tooth roots
- dental abscesses
- the decay touches the nerve cavity inside the tooth
- severe dental hypersensitivity
- general discoloration/darkening of a single tooth
The only way to get a firm diagnosis of whether you need a root canal (and the corresponding root canal cost) is to schedule an exam and x-ray with your dentist. In some cases, your dentist may need an expert opinion on the matter. especially if it is a difficult case to diagnose or difficult to treat. Root canal specialists are called endodontists, and your dentist will usually refer you to one if he or she wants a second opinion.
cost factors for endodontics
The cost of a root canal can easily fluctuate up to $800. It’s not like a dentist is trying to “rip you off” or “do you a favor.” the rate strictly depends on several factors, such as:
- which tooth needs to be treated. some teeth have more roots than others, making the procedure longer and more tedious to perform.
- the type of dentist or specialist you see for treatment. Sometimes a specialty practice is more expensive than a family dental office, especially if they need more advanced equipment.
- the anatomy of your tooth. if the canals are calcified, curved, crooked, or hard to reach, the procedure becomes more difficult to perform.
- patient’s age. children don’t get the same type of nerve therapy on their teeth that adults do.
- if you choose sedation. Some people prefer to nap during their dental appointments. Depending on the type of sedation you choose, it could be quite inexpensive or cost as much as a root canal.
- a restoration after your treatment. root canal treated teeth almost always need a protective crown afterwards. otherwise, the “dead” tooth can become brittle and cause it to break at an accelerated rate.
cost of endodontics without dental insurance
On average, the cost of a root canal without dental insurance can range from:
- front tooth – $700 to $1,400
- bicuspid/premolar – $800 to $1600
- molar – $1000 to $1600
- front tooth – $200 to $900
- bicuspid/premolar – $300 to $1000
- mole– $300 to $1200
let’s say the worst case scenario: you don’t have any dental insurance and expect to pay for your root canal treatment entirely out of pocket. Since you know the cost can fluctuate depending on the tooth being treated, you’ll want to get a specific quote from your dentist. That being said, a single-rooted front tooth typically costs $700-1400 on average to treat with a root canal. note that it does not include the dental crown you will need after the fact.
the deeper you go into the mouth, the more roots there are. the “bicuspid” or “premolar” teeth behind the canines (eye teeth) will have one or two roots, depending on which one. if there are two roots, the procedure takes longer, so it also costs more. On average, premolars cost around $800-1,600 to treat with a root canal.
And then there are the furthest teeth, which are the molars. molars usually have 2-3 roots. in extremely rare cases, they can have four roots. they are also more difficult to see and reach, making treatment a more challenging procedure for general dentists. Depending on the tooth, your dentist may refer you to a specialist. the average cost of endodontics for molar teeth is between $1,000-1,600.
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Does dental insurance cover a root canal?
On average, the cost of a root canal with dental insurance can range from:
If you have dental insurance, your root canal treatment will generally be covered at the level specified by your insurance plan. what do I want to say with that? Insurance benefits are generally prevention-oriented. In other words, they pay more for preventive services like checkups and cleanings. they are generally covered at 100%. once you begin to develop cavities or gum disease (both of which are preventable conditions), coverage begins to decline. your plan could pay 80% or only 70%. it is an incentive for you to keep your mouth healthy. for major treatments, coverage typically drops up to 50%, which means you’re responsible for half of the endodontic procedure (after covering any copays or deductibles).
costs of root canal plus crown
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what are the risks of not having a root canal?
If you don’t treat an abscessed tooth, the infection won’t go away on its own. eventually, it can spread to other areas of the face and, in rare circumstances, even to the brain. It’s not uncommon to hear about people being hospitalized for an untreated abscessed tooth.
The other risk is losing the tooth completely. at a certain point, the teeth become unrecoverable. if it deteriorates too much, there won’t be enough tooth structure left to repair. Eventually, you run out of root canal options and having a tooth extracted is your only option.
Abscessed or dying teeth left untreated can cause a severe toothache when you least expect it. And if you’ve ever had a toothache, you know how miserable they feel. they usually show up at the most inopportune times (like during the holidays or right after the dentist’s office closes for the weekend). waiting to fix the problem will only increase the cost of treatment in the future.
The standard of care is to repair dying or abscessed teeth with root canals. Endodontic therapy has come a long way, making it gentle and cost-effective for today’s modern dental patients.
what is the cheapest way to get a root canal?
The absolute cheapest way to get a root canal is to go to a dental school for your root canal treatment. You will most likely have to wait a while before having an exam, and then even longer to schedule a root canal. But the cost of root canal at a university dental school is probably less than half what it would cost at a traditional dental office. you might even see one of the graduate endodontic students, who is specializing in root canal therapy! A dental school probably won’t accept dental insurance or offer payment plans, but its low-cost fees make dental care affordable for almost everyone.
dental savings plans
With discount dental plans, there are no waiting periods, no exclusions, and no maximum amounts you can cover. You get a fixed flat discount on every service, regardless of whether it’s a cleaning, an emergency removal or an elective makeover. so if you don’t have any insurance coverage, you’re instantly saving money just by signing up for the plan.
no insurance? No problem. A payment plan can be used for your root canal treatment with or without insurance coverage, making it easy to budget for your treatment as soon as possible. Most dental payment plans offer limited terms of 6-12 months at 0% interest, with low-interest financing for longer periods. You can usually get immediate approval, so you won’t have to wait to schedule the treatment you need.
Some dental offices also have in-house membership plans, which include a fixed discount on treatments like root canals, fillings, etc. the programs typically function as an insurance alternative, including free checkups and cleanings.
extract your tooth
Although I strongly discourage it, an inexpensive alternative to a root canal is to pull the tooth out. A tooth extraction can cost as little as $99 or $200, while root canal costs are much more than that.
However, if you decide to extract a tooth, those “affordable” treatments are short-lived. Complications from tooth loss will eventually jeopardize the rest of your smile, which could add additional care costs to your dental bill in the future. such as bone grafts, fixed dental bridges, or the installation of a new dental implant. the healthiest and most cost-effective solution would be to simply get a root canal to save the tooth you already have.
what to expect from a root canal
When you arrive for your endodontic appointment, you will be made comfortable in the treatment room and a numbing gel will be applied to your gums. A few minutes later, the dentist will give you some local anesthetic to numb that area of your mouth. after that, the tooth is opened, the nerve tissues are cleaned, then the canals are medicated and obturated to seal off any new infection. You will also need a crown to reinforce the non-vital tooth. your dentist will most likely set it up that day and then install the permanent crown a couple of weeks later.
If you are someone who prefers to “sleep” during your dental appointments, be sure to ask about sedation during your root canal. Something light like nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can keep the cost of your root canal down, as it usually only costs between $20 and $45. But there are also deeper levels of sedation if you want to completely disconnect from everything. in that case, you’ll need someone to drive you home afterwards.
Do root canals hurt?
On that note, if you have a lot of swelling or drainage from the abscess, your tooth may be more difficult to numb with local anesthesia. To ensure that you are comfortable during your treatment, your dentist may need to prescribe an antibiotic to reduce inflammation. that way the numbing medicine works properly.
Once the root canal procedure is complete, your tooth will feel nothing. What? because there are no longer “live” nerves or blood vessels to feed it. it has a huge padding taking up all that space.
avoiding a root canal can cost you
waiting to treat an abscessed tooth will increase root canal costs. You’ll save money by treating abscessed teeth sooner, rather than trying to avoid symptoms and delay the inevitable. How much does a root canal cost? less than an emergency visit, extraction and installation of a dental implant!