Patient at dentist's office © Robert Przybysz/Shutterstock.com

The idea of having to get a root canal scares most people. Not many people enjoy visits to the dentist, but some people consider root canals to be the most painful of dental procedures.

Fortunately, people who have undergone the procedure know that this is mostly false. In fact, root canals relieve pain, soreness and sensitivity caused by the inflamed pulp inside the tooth.

For others, the pain of a root canal is felt in the wallet rather than the mouth. Costs of dental procedures can be expensive, especially for those who do not have dental insurance and must pay the expenses out of pocket. So, how much does a root canal cost?

Prices vary depending on the dentist, location and condition of the tooth. By understanding what the procedure entails, patients can estimate the cost of their root canal treatment.

What a root canal procedure entails

Brushing and flossing are effective in removing bacteria that can cause tooth decay. In some instances, bacteria can travel below the gumline to the soft tissue (known as the pulp), causing infection. When this occurs, patients experience:

  • Pain
  • Sensitivity to temperature changes
  • Tenderness
  • Discoloration of the tooth

The dentist takes X-rays of the affected tooth or teeth to determine if an infection is present and if a root canal is necessary.

Before beginning the procedure, the dentist uses local anesthetic to numb the area. He makes an opening through the crown and into the pulp chamber. The next step is to remove the infected pulp completely and clean out the canals. Then, the dentist fills the chamber with a permanent material to keep the canals free from infection.

Lastly, he refills the tooth using a filling or crown, depending on the condition of the tooth. With this procedure in mind, how much does a root canal cost, exactly?

Root canal costs

The cost of a root canal is largely dependent on which tooth is affected. Treatment for anterior, or front, teeth is generally simpler and less expensive than treatment for a molar.

Likewise, the cost goes up considerably if the tooth has undergone root canal treatment previously; retreatment is a bit more complicated. The table below illustrates root canal cost for patients who do not have insurance coverage, according to CostHelper.com.

Root canal costs
Tooth Location Average Cost
Front tooth

$960 – $1,348

Bicuspid

$600 – $1,550

Molar

$500 – $1,583

Those paying for the root canal procedure out-of-pocket should use these prices as a guideline. Many dentists offer discounts on root canals and other dental procedures for patients who pay cash.

Fortunately, insurance companies can pay a bulk of the cost for those who are insured. Patients who have dental insurance spend between $333 and $682 in out-of-pocket expenses for this treatment.

RATE SEARCH: Saving up for a medical procedure and want to get some interest on your savings starting today? Shop money market accounts at Bankrate.com.

The cost of complications

As with many medical procedures, the sooner patients seek treatment, the better. While there are a few dental procedures that you can put off until you reach a more financially feasible time, a root canal is not one of them. If not treated promptly, the infection can spread to other teeth or into the jaw. This can lead to additional procedures that are much more expensive.

The goal of a root canal is to preserve the natural tooth. If the decay is not too extensive, the dentist can repair the tooth with a filling, which is about $500 without insurance.

If the damage is too extensive for a filling, then the tooth may require a crown, which is about $1,300 without insurance. Both of these options are less expensive than if the dentist extracts the tooth.

If extraction is needed, it is necessary to install a dental implant and bridge to keep surrounding teeth from shifting and to retain chewing abilities. Because there are so many variables with this procedure, patients can pay as little as $1,000 to as much as $30,000 — even more if a full set of implants and dentures are needed, according to CostHelper.com.

Conclusion

While getting a root canal is painful both physically and financially, it is not a procedure that patients can take a pass on. If a dentist recommends this treatment, then patients should comply. Doing so prevents further complications and expenses.

While it can be an expensive procedure for those who do not have dental insurance, many dental care providers are willing to work with patients on payment plans and discounts to make the cost more manageable.

GET STARTED: Apply for a loan today to help pay for your medical costs at Bankrate.

Promoted Stories