Root Canal Cost: What to Expect

What kind of root canal cost should you expect in 2022?

Anyone who has ever had an intense toothache knows how much misery the pain can cause. Toothaches are caused by infection and inflammation in the dental pulp, which includes the tooth root, soft tissues, blood vessels, and nerve endings, which are all highly sensitive. This is where endodontic treatment like root canal treatment gets into the picture. It eliminates pain and saves the tooth structure and integrity, allowing you to go back to living your life and enjoying your favorite foods and drinks pain-free. So the next question is, how much does a root canal cost?

Emergency dental care is expensive, that’s a fact of life that you need to live with. This is why it is always better to stay on top of your regular checkups at least twice a year to head off any potential dental concerns. If unfortunately, your infected tooth requires a root canal to address, don’t suffer sticker shock. There are lots of factors that affect and dictate the cost of any dental work. Here is a quick rundown of root canals and how much you can expect to pay for such a procedure in a dentist’s office.

Root canal treatment cost: Quick Answer

Average root canal cost without dental insurance:

  • Front tooth – $700 to $1,100
  • Bicuspid (mid-mouth) – $800 to $1,200
  • Molars – $1,200 to $1,800

Average root canal cost with insurance:

  • Front tooth – $200 to $1,100
  • Bicuspid (mid-mouth) – $200 to $1,200
  • Molars – $300 to $1,500

As said earlier, there are lots of factors that affect the treatment cost of the root canals. As you can see, different types of teeth and locations are priced differently. This is because some teeth are much easier to access and the dental professional has only one root to work on. Some teeth like the molars have more roots (up to four roots), which means more work for the dentist.

Moreover, additional costs for X-rays and dental crowns may be charged separately, which can still add up to the total cost.

However, having dental insurance and good insurance coverage can definitely help in slashing a huge chunk of the total cost.

A quick overview of root canal therapy

The root canal procedure removes the infected tissues inside the tooth, the hole left in the infected tooth is then filled with a permanent filling and then covered with a crown on top to seal and protect the natural tooth.

To better understand the cost of this endodontic treatment, it helps to understand what happens during the procedure.

Why you need a root canal

Underneath the white enamel and hard layer of each of your teeth is a soft tissue called the pulp. This contains connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels and is all connected to the bones ad gums. Each tooth has one or more root canals.

Bacteria that feed on food debris can reach the pulp through cracks and chips of the tooth. Dental trauma caused by injury to the mouth can also contribute to damage to the pulp. If left untreated, bacteria and the decaying materials in the tooth can cause serious infection and inflammation, which could lead to the death of the pulp and tooth loss. This is where the benefits of the root canal get into the picture – to eliminate the pain and save the tooth.

While you can always opt for tooth extraction, it is not always the best solution. Extracting your permanent tooth means wearing dentures for the rest of your life, which comes with its own set of disadvantages. That is if you don’t opt for a more expensive orthodontic procedure like dental implants. In cases where the structure and integrity of the tooth are still in good condition, your dentist will advise you to get a root canal instead.

The process of root canal

During the root canal procedure, your dentist will remove the pulp, disinfect the insides of the tooth, fill the hole of the tooth, and then seal it with a dental crown. 

As with most dental procedures, it involves local anesthesia, which means it is relatively pain-free. This whole procedure can last 60 to 90 minutes and can be completed with one or two visits to the dentist, depending on the type and location of the tooth (number of root canals), and the severity of the condition.

Factors that affect root canal cost

The average cost of a root canal in the United States is $700 to $1500. Moreover, the crown ranges from around $800 to $3000. Combining the whole cost, expect to shell out around $1800 or up to $5,000. The broad range is primarily due to several factors, including:

Your location

As with most professionals, the actual amount dental professionals charge for various dental services varies significantly. If you live in a metropolis with a high cost of living, then expect to pay higher for dental services.

Moreover, highly experienced dentists and dental professionals in big dental clinics usually charge higher as well. Typically, most dental procedures are more expensive in western states compared to eastern states. Of course, each city within the state will have different average costs as well.

Location of the affected tooth

One of the biggest factors that affect root canal cost is the type of the tooth and its location. If the cavity is in the front tooth, it generally costs less, since the tooth only has one root canal. Molars on the other hand, usually have three, up to four root canals. This means more pulps to remove, and more canals to clean, fill, and seal, which ultimately means higher costs.

Scope of treatment

The severity of the cavity dictates the amount of work that needs to be done to fix the affected tooth. Obviously, if you see your dentist as soon as you feel something different in your tooth, such as too much tooth sensitivity, the infection wouldn’t be as extensive. The longer you wait to make an appointment, however, the more severe the infection can get, and the more likely you will pay for higher costs due to the added complexity to treat the infection. What could have been a simple tooth filling might now require a crown, which can definitely add up to the bill. Basically, the more extensive the dental work, the more expensive it can get.

Additional costs

When dental offices give quotes for their root canal service, it is usually just for the root canal therapy itself. Note that in most cases, you may have to shell out extra money for additional costs like sedation, X-rays, crown, etc. 

If your case needs two appointments, then the dentist will fill your tooth with a temporary filling to seal the opening until the second appointment. This is to ensure your tooth is fully protected as your gums heal. The permanent filling will be placed on your second appointment. Two appointments are usually more expensive than single appointment root canals.

Retreatment for past root canals

There are some cases where people experience infection in a tooth that already had a root canal. A procedure for this case is a little more extensive, which means the higher costs as well. 

The best way to deal with this problem is to avoid it in the first place by practicing good dental care. This means brushing your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day, using fluoride-based toothpaste, rinsing your mouth with mouthwash, and religiously flossing. All these things help protect your teeth against cavities.

The takeaway

If you don’t have dental insurance and you are worried about the treatment cost of a root canal, then reach out to your dentist. Most dental clinics offer payment plans and financing options so that you won’t have to pay the full price upfront. Some also offer special discounts if you pay upfront.

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