A root canal is a dental treatment that repairs a severely damaged, decayed, inflamed and/or infected tooth. A general dentist may perform the procedure or you may be referred to a root canal specialist, called an endodontist. Root canal therapy can effectively save a tooth from extraction, but it can be a costly remedy.
Signs that May Indicate Root Canal is Needed
If you suspect one or more of your teeth may be a candidate for root canal therapy, the American Association of Endodontists says the signs often include pain, extended sensitivity to heat or cold and a raw or sore feeling when chewing. There can also be swelling and draining in the tooth area. The AAE says the tooth may become discolored and your lymph nodes may feel tender.
Root Canal Therapy
One of the reasons a root canal treatment is considerably more expensive than a routine filling is it can require up to three visits to your dentist or endodontist.
During your first appointment, an X-ray of your damaged tooth will be taken to determine the extent of damage.
Once the decay is removed, a tiny opening is made in the tooth to gain access to the pulp chamber so the damaged pulp can be extracted. The root canal is then cleaned, medicated and prepared for a filling.
If the root canal requires several appointments, a temporary filling material is used to protect the tooth. Before the treated tooth is permanently filled, your dentist will make sure it is dry and free of infection.
Root Canal Therapy Cost Variables
According to the American Association of Endodontists the cost of root canal therapy varies depending on the potential complications that may arise. For example your endodontist or general dentist may need to spend additional time looking for atypical canal anatomy.
General Dentist vs Specialist
A root canal treatment will generally be less expensive when it is performed by a general dentist rather than by an endodontist.
The exact discrepancies in the fees will vary, but you can expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 to 50 percent more to be treated by a specialist.
Tooth Type Affects Cost
The type of tooth that is being treated will affect the cost of a root canal as will where in the United States you have the work performed.
Root canal therapy on a molar (a larger tooth with more canals) can range from $850 to $1,700. Treatment on a bicuspid (teeth between the molars and front teeth may cost $750 to $1,200, while the fee for anterior therapy is somewhere between $650 to $1,000.
Many dental insurance plans cover endodontic treatment. The AAE say insurance plans vary so be sure to check with your provider to find out whether part or all of your root canal treatment is covered.
Longevity of Root Canal Thearpy
A tooth that has been restored by a root canal can very possible last a lifetime. The American Dental Association says the tooth will stay healthy as long as the root(s) of the treated tooth are nourished by the surrounding tissues.