Are you in need of a root canal but having no idea how much it will cost. Not only do you have the stress of a procedure whose very name is synonymous with unpleasantness — but you also have the added stress of wondering how much it will cost and where you’ll come up with the money.
What is a Root Canal?
The term “root canal” can refer to both the inner part (passages) of the tooth between the pulp and tooth roots, and to the dental procedure used to remove the infected material and relieve root canal pain. The root canals contain nerves and blood vessels.
Once an adult tooth has emerged from the gums, the tooth’s nerve doesn’t serve a specific purpose other than sensing heat, cold, and other stimuli.
Removing a nerve in an infected tooth is part of a standard procedure to treat tooth pain caused by decay or infection in the tooth pulp.
Common causes of root canals pain include:
- Decay: Tooth decay that has penetrated the outer layers of the teeth causes root canal pain.
- Damage: Cracks or chips in teeth can cause tooth decay and root canal pain.
- Disease: Risk factors for infection in the tooth pulp include severe tooth decay, trauma to the tooth, recent dental procedures, large fillings, and cracks or chips in the teeth. If the cause of your tooth pain is serious decay or infection in the tooth pulp, your dentist may recommend a root canal.
Signs You Need a Root Canal
Not all types of teeth pain are indications for a root canal. But signs of infection severe enough to require a root canal include:
- Serious teeth pain when eating or when you put pressure on the area
- Teeth pain and sensitivity to hot or cold that lingers after the hot or cold stimuli have been removed
- A small, pimple-like bump on the gums near the area of teeth pain
- Darkening of the tooth
- Tenderness or swelling in the gums near the area of teeth pain
How Much a Root Canal Costs?
The cost of a root canal varies depending on where you are in the country and which tooth needs it.
Molars are significantly more expensive than bicuspids and front teeth. That’s not an access issue – it’s because front teeth have one canal, while your back teeth can have as many as three.
If all of them need work done, you’re actually getting a bulk discount on the molars.
So what are you going to pay for a root canal? The short answer is somewhere around the neighborhood of $1,000, depending on which tooth needs it, among other factors. Here are the average prices of a root canal by tooth:
- Front teeth: The cost will range anywhere from $300 to $1,500, but a more typical range will be $900 to $1,100.
- Bicuspids: The cost of a bicuspid root canal is a little steeper, ranging from $400 to $1,800 with a typical cost of $900 to $1,100.
- Molars: Here’s where things start getting really expensive. For a molar root canal, you’re looking at spending between $500 to $2,000, with typical costs between $1,000 to $1,300.
What does that include? An X-ray and the procedure itself. You’re probably going to be looking at extra costs, though, including follow-up visits (about $50 to $100 each) and a dental crown (anywhere from $300 to $3,000, depending on which tooth you had done and how nice you want the crown to be).
If you’re lucky, you might get away with just needing a filling, which is going to run you between $50 and $300.
Factors that Can Add to the Cost
Sometimes a root canal becomes infected again and needs more attention – which, unfortunately, can cost more than the root canal itself.
The follow-up, called retreatment, involves removing the existing root canal filling, then cleaning, shaping, and filling the canal again.
If the dentist can’t save your tooth, you may need to have it removed and replaced with an implant or denture.
How to Save Money on a Root Canal
While you don’t want to bargain shop or get a discount root canal procedure, you might want to look into getting the procedure done at your local dental college to save a bit of money.
Dental schools are always looking for people for their students to practice on — and they’re not letting just anyone do a root canal.
What’s more, there will be a qualified dentist or endodontist on hand to make sure that you’re getting the best care.
Other than that, you can always wait for deals on Groupon or other social shopping sites or even ask for a discount for paying your entire bill in cash. Even saving just 10% can be significant in a big procedure like a root canal.
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What to Expect During a Root Canal
If you think you need a root canal, consult your dentist. There are a number of steps that occur over a few office visits.
- X-ray – if a dentist suspects you may need a root canal, he will first take X-rays or examine existing X-rays to show where the decay is located.
- Anesthesia – local anesthesia is administered to the affected tooth. Contrary to popular belief, a root canal is no more painful than a filling.
- Pulpectomy – an opening is made and the diseased tooth pulp is removed.
- Filling – the roots that have been opened (to get rid of the diseased pulp) are filled with gutta-percha material and sealed off with cement.
Where to Go from Here
Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding your medical condition or treatment.