How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?

Last Updated on April 8, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

When tooth decay or trauma reaches the inner pulp and nerves, root canal therapy is often necessary to save the tooth. But how much does this common procedure typically cost with or without insurance?

This guide examines the many factors impacting root canal pricing, cost ranges for different tooth types, ways to reduce expenses, and the long-term value of preserving your natural smile.

How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?

A root canal costs anywhere between $600 and $1,400, depending on the type of tooth, the clinic you go to, your location, and so on. Here are some average costs for root canals based on the tooth requiring treatment:

  • Anterior tooth (front incisors, canines) – $600 to $900
  • Premolar (between front and back teeth) – $700 to $1,000
  • Molar (large back grinding teeth) – $1,000 to $1,400

With quality dental insurance, out-of-pocket prices often decrease dramatically, sometimes by 50% or more depending on the plan.

According to GoodRx, the average cost of a root canal ranges from $1,300 to $1,600, with front teeth being the least expensive at around $1,000 and molars being the most expensive at $1,300 to $1,600. The cost can be higher for a retreatment or if additional procedures like a crown are needed.

ValuePenguin writes that the average cost of a root canal is $1,067 without insurance. With insurance, the cost ranges from $213 to $640, depending on the insurance plan’s level of coverage, which is typically between 40% and 80%.

Open and Affordable says that the average cost of a root canal in the US can range from $912 to $1,200, depending on factors like the tooth’s location, the dentist’s expertise, and the geographic location.

Advanced Smile Dental notes that the cost of a root canal can range from $800 to $1,500 per tooth, with factors like tooth location, whether it’s performed by a specialist, and geographic location affecting the price.

According to Delta Dental, the cost of a root canal on a front tooth is approximately $620 to $1,100 out-of-network, while a root canal on a premolar is around $720 to $1,300 out-of-network.

What is a Root Canal Procedure?

A root canal involves removing infected or inflamed pulp tissue inside the tooth root, thoroughly disinfecting and shaping the area, and sealing it to prevent further infection. This treatment is needed when the soft pulp becomes irritated, often due to:

  • Deep dental decay penetrating the enamel and root
  • Cracked or chipped teeth that expose the pulp nerves
  • Repeated dental work like fillings on the same tooth over time

Seeking prompt root canal treatment helps preserve the natural tooth structure and prevent painful complications like tooth loss or abscesses. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia to keep patients comfortable.

Factors That Determine Root Canal Costs

Several variables affect the total out-of-pocket cost of root canal treatment:

  • Tooth type and location – Front teeth are the simplest, while back molars are the most complex.
  • Geographic region – Prices vary based on location and individual dentist fees. Major cities are generally more expensive.
  • Type of dental specialist – Endodontists typically charge more than general dentists due to advanced specialty training.
  • Dental insurance coverage – More extensive coverage means lower personal costs. But many plans offer limited or no root canal benefits.
  • Additional repairs needed – Like crowns or dental posts to rebuild the tooth structure, which add to costs.

What’s Included in a Typical Root Canal Fee?

The main items included in a standard root canal cost are:

  • Initial dental exam, X-rays, and diagnosis to identify the issue
  • Administration of local anesthetic to keep the area fully numbed
  • Accessing and cleaning out the inner tooth pulp chamber
  • Shaping and disinfecting the root canal passages
  • Filling and sealing the tooth roots with an inert material to protect them
  • Placement of a temporary filling or crown over the tooth’s crown

Potential Additional Dental Expenses

Depending on individual circumstances, supplemental services may be warranted beyond the root canal itself:

  • Permanent dental crown for reinforcement – $300 to $1,500 based on material
  • Prescription medication to treat a dental infection – Typically $50 to $200
  • Biopsy performed on abnormal tissue – $300 to $1,000
  • Tooth extraction if the root and nerves are too diseased to save it – $75 to $300 per tooth

Always obtain a complete cost breakdown before beginning any treatment. Never hesitate to ask questions.

Smart Ways to Save on Root Canal Costs

There are several effective ways to get a more affordable root canal:

  • Compare procedure costs from multiple qualified dentists in your area. Significant price variations exist.
  • Verify details of your insurance coverage, which can dramatically lower out-of-pocket costs if decent benefits exist. But confirm before committing.
  • Consider discounted treatment options at dental schools, community clinics, and health centers with sliding-scale fees based on income.
  • Explore financing options like third-party medical credit to pay over time with low or deferred interest.
  • Join a dental savings plan for exclusive discounted rates on procedures. But read terms closely first.

With prudent shopping, root canals can be made very budget-friendly. However, avoid sacrificing quality purely to save money.

You might also like our articles about the cost of cavity filling, dentures, or wisdom tooth removal.

Choosing the Right Dentist for Your Root Canal

Root Canal ExplainedIt’s essential to select an experienced general dentist or endodontist to perform your root canal:

  • Verify they have advanced specialty training and expertise in endodontic procedures. Many general dentists refer out.
  • Look for a gentle approach and focus on patient comfort during treatment.
  • Confirm they use the latest equipment and techniques like magnification, 3D imaging, and precision handpieces.
  • Check reviews and ask to see before/after photos of past root canal treatments.

Take your time to select the right provider to ensure skilled, pain-free treatment you can trust.

Alternative Treatments to Root Canals

The two primary alternatives to root canals are:

  • Tooth extraction – Removing the tooth entirely. This often leads to high costs of $2000-$6000+ for bridge work or implants to fill the gap.
  • Deep dental cleaning – In some cases, rigorous deep cleaning can treat infections and save the tooth. But results aren’t guaranteed.

When possible, preserving natural teeth through root canal therapy is ideal to avoid invasive, costly tooth replacement procedures later on.

Final Words

While root canal costs range based on many factors, most average between $600-$1,400 and allow you to salvage your original, natural smile. With prudent shopping, you can find quality treatment at an affordable price point.

Remember, catching issues early makes fixing problems easier, cheaper, and less complicated down the road. Explore all options to prioritize your oral health, regardless of finances. Your smile is invaluable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it cheaper to extract a tooth or do a root canal?

Generally, a root canal is a much less expensive option than extraction and replacement. Extractions cost $75-$300 depending on complexity. But replacing the missing tooth with an implant or bridge runs $2,500-$6,000+. Preserving the natural tooth via root canal averages just $600-$1,400.

Is a root canal cheaper than getting a dental crown?

Yes, root canal therapy alone tends to be less expensive than dental crowns. While a root canal on a molar may cost $1,000-$1,400, a molar crown averages $800-$1,500 based on the material used. However, sometimes a crown is also required after a root canal to reinforce the tooth structure.

When is it too late for a root canal?

If infection and decay have severely damaged the tooth roots and supporting bone, it may be too late for a root canal to save the tooth. An X-ray helps the dentist determine if the roots are too compromised. At this stage extraction is usually needed to prevent spreading issues. So don’t delay prompt treatment.

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