By Dr. Richard Schlossberg – Updated November 19, 2020
Has your dentist recommended you get a root canal because of an infected or decaying tooth? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans undergo root canal treatments every year and walk away with healthier teeth and brighter and stronger smiles. Although the idea of such treatment may be frightening—despite the fact that most dentists relate root canal discomfort to that of a filling—even more frightening than the procedure itself might be figuring out how you’re going to foot the bill without dental insurance.
If you’re wondering “what is a root canal?”, “how much is a root canal on average?”, or “how much does a dental root canal cost without insurance?”, we’re here to provide all the information you need to get a better understanding of your next best steps.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a type of endodontic treatment that is used to repair severely decayed or infected teeth. When a tooth’s nerve and pulp becomes inflamed or infected as a result of deep decay or other forms of injury or damage, a root canal procedure provides a sound solution.
During the procedure, the tooth’s nerve and pulp are removed to prevent reinfection and preserve the natural tooth. The inside of the tooth is cleaned, filled, and sealed. The techniques and technology behind root canals have advanced tremendously in recent years, so not only can you enjoy an incredibly effective fix for a painful problem, but you can also rest assured knowing that the procedure itself is virtually painless with modern technology and dental advancements.
Root Canal Cost Factors
So, how much is a root canal? A root canal costs between $900 and $1,600 without insurance. See the procedure list at the bottom of this page for average prices in your area.
Root Canals can cost anywhere from $900 to $1,600.
One of the most significant determining factors of your final root canal cost is the location of the tooth. Molars tend to be more expensive than bicuspids and front teeth because they feature up to three canals—in short, molars leave more to clean, fill, and seal, which means more work for your dentist. General dentists can often do root canals on front and bicuspid teeth, but they will usually recommend seeing an endodontic specialist for molar root canals.
It’s also important to consider any extra costs that may come after your root canal is done. Installing a dental crown without dental insurance can cost you an additional $500 to $1,500 and follow-up appointments with your dentist can add up. To spare yourself the headache and financial drain, consider joining a dental savings plan that gives you access to exclusive discounts that can make affording this essential treatment much easier.
Why Do I Need a Root Canal?
Root canals are needed when a tooth is damaged or the pulp within the tooth becomes infected. This treatment is used to help repair and save the tooth that is infected or has decayed. Dentists may recommend a root canal if:
- You experience tooth sensitivity with hot or cold temperatures even after what has caused the heat or cold has been removed.
- Your teeth begin to discolor or darken.
- You have a severe toothache when you chew or apply pressure.
- Your gums swell and become tender.
- You have recurring and persistent pimples on your gums.
Types of Root Canals
While there is really only one type of root canal—although it varies depending on the location of the tooth—there are several preventative techniques associated with endodontics because it aims to prevent decay and infection from reaching the pulp of the tooth. Here are some of those preventative methods, along with a more thorough explanation of the root canal process.
- Pulp Capping: This is a preventative technique that comes before a root canal. It is used to stop tooth decay from attacking the pulp chamber of the tooth. However, if the pulp has already been infected and the tooth dies, a root canal will be needed.
- Therapeutic Pulpotomy: Another preventative technique, therapeutic pulpotomy is typically performed on primary teeth to stop decay from reaching the tooth’s pulp.
- Endodontic Therapy: Also known as root canal therapy, endodontic therapy treats the inside of an infected tooth by removing the infected pulp, cleaning the inside of the tooth and then filling and sealing it with a rubber-like material. Then, a crown is often placed over the tooth for protection.
Ways to Save Money on a Root Canal
Root canals are used to treat serious internal tooth damage— like deep decay, shrinking roots, abscesses, and large fractures— and some root canal procedures require a dental crown, but this is largely dependent upon the location of the tooth. When it comes to your wallet, the price you’ll pay for a root canal varies based on the degree of work you need done. Without any kind of dental plan, the cost of a root canal can be quite high. Fortunately, no matter the price, there are ways you can save.
Root canals are considered major procedures, which means dental insurance can cover a good portion of the costs incurred, though new insurance policies often have extensive waiting periods of 6-12 months.. Now that we’ve answered your main question, “how much is a root canal?” you’re likely wondering “how can I afford a root canal?” Try joining a dental savings plan that allows you to save money and make manageable payments toward your necessary procedures.
Root Canals and Dental Savings Plans
Fortunately, there are insurance alternatives that can help cut the cost of those prices significantly. For instance, the Dental Access Plan (powered by the Aetna Dental Access network) provides 15-50% savings at endodontists, other specialists, and general dentists. The Care 500 Series Plan plan is a nationwide plan that helps you save 20-60% at general dentists and 20% at specialists.
If your general dentist has recommended seeing an endodontic specialist, the Care 500 Series Plan still provides a flat 20% off, but we recommend the Preferred Plan which adds the Dental Access plan (powered by the Aetna Dental Access network) and saves 15-50% with specialists.
For those of you wanting to save money on root canals, consider dental savings plans. They’ll help cut the cost of a root canal and other dental procedures to make them more affordable for you without a waiting period. Ensuring that you’re able to afford treatment and stay on top of your essential dental care, including root canals, means you’ll be able to preserve the strength and function of your teeth so you can smile with confidence.
Summary: Why is the Preferred Plan our best selling plan for root canals?
- Best savings at general dentists AND specialists
- Exact procedure prices online with Care 500 Series
- Largest list of dentists with Dental Access
- Millions of members, in business since 1979
- Plan priced at an everyday low price, starting at $169 a year
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional dental advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist with any questions you may have regarding your oral health.