How Much Does a Root Canal Cost? (with and without insurance)

root canal procedure using file

Are you wondering how much does a root canal cost? It’s definitely not as cheap as a dental filling and usually costs more than a crown. But there are different factors that influence root canal cost, meaning they can significantly fluctuate from one person to the next.

Do I Need A Root Canal?

Root canal treatment cost aside, you need endodontic therapy if the nerve of your tooth is compromised, infected, or dying. There simply is no other way to repair a tooth with necrotic nerve tissues inside of it, other than getting a root canal.

  • Your dentist will most likely recommend root canal treatment for situations involving:
  • Nerve death, due to a traumatic injury
  • Cracked teeth or tooth roots
  • Dental abscesses
  • Decay touching the nerve chamber inside your tooth
  • Severe tooth hypersensitivity
  • Overall single tooth discoloration/darkening

The only way to get a firm diagnosis of whether you need a root canal (and the applicable root canal cost) is to schedule an exam and X-ray with your dentist. In some cases, your dentist may need an expert’s input on the matter. Especially if it’s a hard-to-diagnose or hard-to-treat case. Root canal specialists are called “endodontists” and your dentist will usually refer you to one if they want you to get a second opinion.

Endodontics Cost Factors

The cost of a root canal treatment can easily fluctuate by as much as $800. It’s not that a dentist is trying to “rip you off” or “pull one over on you.” The fee is strictly dependent upon several factors, such as:

  1. Which tooth needs to be treated. Some teeth have more roots than others, making the procedure lengthier and more tedious to perform.
  2. The type of dentist or specialist you’re seeing for treatment. Sometimes a specialty practice is more expensive than a family dental office, especially if they need more advanced equipment.
  3. The anatomy of your tooth. If the canals are calcified, curved, twisted, or hard to reach, it makes the procedure more difficult to perform.
  4. Age of the patient. Children don’t receive the same type of nerve therapy in their teeth that adults do.
  5. If you choose sedation. Some people prefer to nap through their dental appointments. Depending on the type of sedation you choose, it could be fairly inexpensive or cost as much as the root canal does.
  6. A restoration after your treatment. Root canal-treated teeth almost always need a protective crown afterward. Otherwise, the “dead” tooth can become brittle, causing it to break down at an accelerated rate.

Root Canal Cost Without Dental Insurance

On average, the cost of a root canal without dental insurance can range from:

  • Front tooth - $700 to $1,400
  • Bicuspid/premolar - $800 to $1,600
  • Molar - $1,000 to $1,600

Let’s say worst case scenario you don’t have any dental insurance and expect to pay for your root canal treatment completely out of pocket. Since you already know the cost can fluctuate depending on which tooth is being treated you’ll want to nail down a specific quote from your dentist. That being said, a front tooth with a single root usually costs between $700-1,400 on average to treat with a root canal. Keep in mind that does not include the dental crown you’ll need after the fact.

The further back you go in your mouth, the more roots there are. The “bicuspids” or “premolar” teeth behind your canines (eye teeth) will have one or two roots, depending on which one it is. If there are two roots, the procedure takes longer, meaning it also costs more. On average, premolars are around $800-1,600 to treat with a root canal.

And then there are your furthest back teeth, which are your molars. Molars usually have 2-3 roots. In extremely rare cases, they can have four roots. They’re also harder to see and reach, making the treatment more of a challenging procedure for general dentists. Depending on the tooth, your dentist might refer you to a specialist. The average root canal cost for molar teeth is between $1,000-1,600.

Save Up to 69% On Root Canals

If you do not have dental insurance, a great option is to get a dental savings plan. They are no waiting periods or exclusions, or maximums and you get a flat discount on every service, from dental cleanings to elective restorations. 

1Dental offers 69% OFF root canals get a plan here today and save!

Is A Root Canal Covered By Dental Insurance?

On average, the cost of a root canal with dental insurance can range from:

  • Front tooth - $200 to $900
  • Bicuspid/premolar - $300 to $1,000
  • Molar - $300 to $1,200

If you have dental insurance, your root canal will usually be covered at the tier specified by your insurance plan. What do I mean by that? Typically, insurance benefits are prevention-driven. In other words, they pay more for preventative services like checkups and cleanings. Those are usually covered at 100%. Once you start developing cavities or gum disease (both of which are preventable conditions) the coverage starts to drop. Your plan might pay 80% or only 70%. It’s an incentive to get you to keep your mouth healthy. For major treatments, coverage typically drops as low as 50%, meaning you’re responsible for half of the root canal procedure (after covering any copays or deductibles.)

Root canal treatments tend to fall into the “major” treatment category. So, your insurance—if you have major coverage—will cover them at a lower percentage than they do other basic restorative work. Your dentist’s office will help you coordinate with your carrier to get a more specific breakdown of the dollar amount that they’ll pay. This figure can fluctuate based on the specific plan you’re enrolled in (chosen by you or your employer,) whether or not you’ve met your deductible for the year, and if you’re seeing an in-network or out-of-network dentist. And don’t forget you’re only allowed a set maximum amount of coverage per year.[1]

Root Canal Costs Plus Crown 

ToothRoot Canal CostCrown CostTotal | No InsuranceTotal | With InsuranceTotal | With Dental Plan
Front Tooth$700 - $1400$800 - $2000$1700 - $3600$450 - $2000$850 to $1,800
Bicuspid / Premolar$800 - $1600$800 - $2000$1800 - $3800$500 - $2200$900 to $1,900
Molar$1000 - $1600$800 - $2000$2000 - $3800$600 - $2200$1,000 to $1,900

Save up to 60% OFF Dental Care with a 1dental savings plan!

What Are The Risks Of Not Getting A Root Canal?

If you don’t treat an abscessed tooth, the infection will not go away on its own. Eventually, it can spread to other areas of the face and in rare circumstances, even your brain. It’s not uncommon to hear about people being hospitalized because of an untreated dental abscess.

The other risk is losing your tooth altogether. At a certain point, teeth become non-restorable. If it deteriorates too much, there will not be enough tooth structure left to repair. Eventually, you run out of root canal options and a tooth extraction is your only choice. 

Untreated abscessed or dying teeth can cause severe tooth pain when you least expect it. And if you’ve ever had a toothache, you know how miserable they feel. Typically, they pop up at the most inopportune times (like on vacation or right after the dentist’s office closes for the weekend.) Waiting to address the issue will only increase the cost of treatment in the future.

The standard of care is to repair dying or abscessed teeth with root canals. Endodontic therapy has come a long way, making it both gentle and cost-effective for today’s modern dental patients.

What’s The Cheapest Way To Get A Root Canal? 

Dental Schools

The absolute cheapest way to get a root canal is to go to a dental school for your endodontic treatment. Most likely you’ll have to wait a while before getting in for an exam, then even longer to schedule the root canal. But root canal cost at a university dental school will probably be less than half of what it would in a traditional dental office. You might even be able to see one of the post-graduate endodontic students, who are specializing in root canal therapy! A dental school probably won’t take dental insurance or offer payment plans, but their low-cost fees make dental care accessible for almost everyone.

Dental Savings Plans 

With dental discount plans, there are no waiting periods or exclusions, or maximum amounts that you can cap out. You get a fixed, flat discount on every service, regardless of whether it’s for a cleaning, emergency extraction, or an elective smile makeover. So, if you don’t have any insurance coverage, you’re instantly saving money just by signing up for the plan.

Payment Plans

No insurance? No problem. A payment plan can be used for your root canal with or without insurance coverage, making it easier to budget your treatment ASAP. Most dental payment plans offer limited 6-12 month terms at 0% interest, with low-interest financing for longer periods. You can usually get immediate approval, so you won’t have to wait to schedule any treatment you need.

Some dental offices also have in-house membership plans, which include a fixed discount on treatments like root canals, fillings, etc. The programs typically work as an insurance alternative, including no-cost checkups and cleanings as well. 

Extract Your Tooth

Although I highly advise against it, one cheap alternative to a root canal is to pull your tooth. A dental extraction can cost as low as $99 or $200 whereas root canal costs are far more than that. 

However, if you do decide to extract a tooth, those “affordable” treatments are short-lived. The complications of tooth loss will eventually jeopardize the rest of your smile, potentially adding additional care costs to your dental bill in the future. Such as bone grafts, fixed dental bridges, or installing a brand new dental implant. The healthier and more cost-effective solution would be to just get the root canal to save the tooth you already have.

What To Expect From A Root Canal

A root canal will help you preserve your natural tooth so that you don’t need to have it extracted. You can expect to be able to maintain your normal smile without any complications of tooth loss or weighing various tooth replacement options. [2]

When you arrive at your root canal appointment, you’ll be made comfortable in the treatment room and some numbing gel will be applied to your gums. A few minutes later, the dentist will administer some local anesthetic to numb that area of your mouth. After that, the tooth is opened up, the nerve tissues are cleaned out, then the canals are medicated and filled to seal out any new infection. You’ll also need a crown to reinforce the non-vital tooth. More than likely your dentist will prep you for it that day, then install the permanent crown a couple of weeks later. 

If you’re someone who prefers to “sleep” through your dental appointments, be sure to ask about having sedation during your root canal. Something light like nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can keep your root canal cost low since it’s usually only about $20-45. But there are also deeper levels of sedation if you want to completely tune everything out. In that case, you’ll need to have someone drive you home afterward.

Do Root Canals Hurt?

Believe it or not, getting a root canal doesn’t have to feel any worse than having a routine dental filling or crown placed. Your tooth is completely numbed up ahead of time so you will probably only feel the pressure more than anything else.[3]

On that note, if you have a lot of swelling or drainage from the abscess, your tooth can be more difficult to numb up with local anesthetic. To ensure you’re comfortable during your treatment, your dentist may need to prescribe an antibiotic to reduce how much inflammation there is. That way the numbing medication works properly.

Once your root canal procedure is complete, your tooth won’t feel a thing. How? Because there are no longer any “live” nerves or blood vessels feeding it. It has a large filling taking up all that space.

Avoiding A Root Canal Can Cost You

Waiting to treat an abscessed tooth will make root canal costs go up. You’ll save money by treating abscessed teeth sooner, rather than trying to ward off symptoms and delay the inevitable. How much does a root canal cost? Less than an emergency visit, extraction, and installing a dental implant!

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