Most of us take our teeth for granted until they start to hurt. Once a toothache begins, it can be distracting at best and debilitating at worst. What’s more, when your toothache doesn’t respond to over-the-counter medication, you may be left wondering how you’ll focus on work, get to sleep, and get the pain to go away.
The first step in treating a painful tooth should always be to call a dentist. Unfortunately, many people avoid doing this out of fear the dentist will recommend a root canal. Root canals are standard, routine oral procedures that have gotten a bad rap for a variety of reasons, but with constant advancements in dental technology and techniques, root canals have never been easier, faster, or less painful to perform, all with a very low rate of complications.
Moreover, root canals are often more than a recommendation–they’re necessary to protect your oral health and your overall health. This often leads patients to a second barrier to care: how they’re going to pay for this important treatment.
Root canals are necessary in instances where the tissues, nerves, and blood vessels inside the tooth–called the dental pulp–have become infected and can’t be treated with a filling like a small cavity can. During the procedure, the dentist drills a hole into the affected tooth, cleans out the inside of all infected tissue, and fills the tooth with a material called gutta percha, which is strong and acts like natural tooth material.
While not all toothaches will require a root canal, a root canal is typically the only option for a tooth with infected dental pulp, because an infected tooth will not heal. If left untreated, the infection in the pulp will create an abscess, or pus pocket, that will eventually erode and compromise the tooth roots, making the tooth less stable and more challenging to save. Without the root canal, the bacteria from the infection will also spread to other tissues in the gum and mouth as well as the jaw bone, blood, or even the brain, leading to tooth loss, bone deterioration, or more serious health concerns.
Anyone might need a root canal—even children who haven’t grown in their adult teeth yet—but this procedure is most commonly done on people between the ages of 33 to 44.
The type of tooth needing treatment. Front teeth and bicuspids have fewer roots and are more accessible, while teeth like premolars and molars have many, larger roots, and they can be more challenging to access for treatment, making for a more complicated (and expensive) procedure.
The kind of crown you are getting. The crowns used to seal a tooth after a root canal come in a variety of materials at a variety of price points. Your dentist may suggest a less expensive crown if your root canal is on a back tooth that is less visible, but you may want something more aesthetically pleasing if the tooth being treated is visible when you smile.
The severity of the infection. An infection caught early is easier, faster, and less expensive to treat than one that has been allowed to worsen and spread to other parts of the tooth or mouth.
Additional or associated costs for pre-procedure prep and post-procedure recovery. Included in the cost of a root canal are usually multiple steps that get you back on the road to health, including the x-rays necessary to diagnose the infection, the visit fee itself, the anesthetic used, removal of the infection, refilling the tooth, and closing the entry point.
Insurance plans may not cover 100% of the cost of a root canal, so there may be some out-of-pocket costs. If you do not have insurance, many dental offices will work with you to find payment options, plans, and pricing that fit within your budget so you can receive the care you need. You may be able to take advantage of dental discount plans or health savings accounts to help you pay for it, so be sure to ask.
Whether or not your insurance will cover a root canal comes down to the specific policy that you have. However, because root canals are so important for maintaining dental health and stopping infections before they worsen and spread, most insurance plans will offer at least some coverage for this procedure. The most common coverage is 50% to 80% of the cost after you’ve met your deductible.
Most insurance plans will consider a root canal to be a preventative procedure, because its goal is to prevent you from losing the tooth entirely, but because root canals aren’t usually covered at 100% in a dental plan, you should still prepare to pay some amount out of pocket. This cost typically ranges between $750 to $1200, with factors like the severity of the infection and which tooth is being worked on playing into the final bill.
Dental treatment is not usually included in general healthcare coverage for most Americans, so not having dental insurance is not uncommon. Many dental offices are willing to work with patients to afford this important treatment, as well as routine services, and the price may not differ significantly from those who are insured, especially if they haven’t met their deductible yet.
Root canals tend to average around $1000 for people without insurance, but ask your dental office if they can work with you on a payment plan to help you manage the bill more easily. Dental Depot in DFW, for example, offers financing options so that you can focus more on getting better and less on how to pay for a critical procedure like a root canal.
Ultimately, the cost of not getting a root canal can be far greater than the price of the procedure, because without it, you could be looking at more extensive care and procedures in the future, including more infection, tooth extraction, dental implants, or serious health concerns. At Dental Depot in DFW, we believe in offering quality, comprehensive dental services like root canal procedures at a commonsense price. Although we accept most major dental insurance plans, we are also more than happy to work with patients without insurance and in any financial situation. We are CareCredit certified and offer a variety of financing and payment plans to help you afford the root canal treatment you need.
If you think you may need a root canal, don’t delay seeking treatment because of cost. Contact Dental Depot in DFW today to schedule an appointment and start feeling better!