A root canal treatment is a medically necessary procedure that stops an infected tooth from causing complications. However, this dental treatment can cost more than $1,000, which can be prohibitively expensive for those without insurance.
In this guide from Flossy, we’ll go over all the parts of a root canal procedure, as well as your best options for paying for it.
What Is a Root Canal?
Your tooth is roughly made up of three parts: the enamel, the dentine, and the pulp. The enamel is the outermost part of the tooth that protects the inner structures from external elements — and what’s typically handled during cleanings and your daily dental care routine. The dentine is the collagenous middle portion, while the pulp is the innermost part of the tooth with many nerve endings.
When you experience damage in the enamel and the dentine — which is referred to as tooth decay — bacteria may begin to invade the pulp. When this happens, you may experience significant inflammation, toothaches, and sensitivity in your tooth..
A root canal addresses this issue by drilling a hole in the tooth and removing the diseased nerves from the pulp. In the process, a “canal” is formed, which is sealed after the procedure has been completed. If a root canal is performed in time, then it will prevent you from needing a tooth extraction.
Do I Need a Root Canal?
You may experience symptoms such as sensitivity or pain, which can indicate that you need a root canal. However, only your dentist can decide if a root canal procedure is necessary after a careful evaluation of your individual factors. As such, consulting with your dentist is necessary before you decide to undergo a root canal procedure.
Root canals for molars tend to be more expensive than those for bicuspids or front teeth because they are the hardest teeth for and endodontist to treat. However, getting endodontic care for an infected tooth is essential for your overall oral health, so these dental procedures are worth the cost.
What Happens During a Root Canal?
The first part of a root canal procedure is the diagnosis. After your general dentist performs a manual examination of your teeth and gums, they will take a dental X-ray. If they observe significant inflammation in the pulp, then they will recommend a root canal procedure.
Before you begin your procedure, your dentist or dental clinic worker will inject you with a small dose of local anesthesia. This anesthetic will completely numb the area around your tooth and allow your dentist to operate on the nerve-rich pulp without causing you any pain.
During the procedure, your dentist will use a manual drill to make a “canal” in the tooth. Using a special dental instrument, your dentist will clean out the inflamed pulp. To reduce the risk of infection, they will clean out the area with an antiseptic solution.
Next, your dentist will fill the canal with a rubber-like material that completely seals the opening. Then might add a filling on top of the tooth to ensure that no bacteria are able to invade the space.
Depending on the severity of your tooth’s damage, you might need to have a dental crown placed on top of the tooth. This will significantly help you with resuming normal functions, such as biting and chewing. Usually, you will need to come back on another day to have the crown attached.
How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?
Root canals are medically necessary procedures; as such, most dental insurance plans cover them, as well as checkups and other endodontic treatments. However, a large portion of U.S. adults — as high as 9% — do not have a health insurance policy. As such, many of these patients are obligated to pay for the root canal procedure out-of-pocket. In some cases, payment plans or discount plans are available for uninsured people who need dental care, but these dental plans aren’t always accessible options.
How much a root canal procedure costs largely depends on which tooth is affected. A root canal performed on the front teeth usually costs between $600 and $1,100 dollars. In contrast, The average cost of a root canal performed on the back teeth may be as high as $1,500 dollars.
In addition, the severity of the problem may play a role in how long you spend in the dental office. Some teeth may require more dental work, which can increase how much time the procedure requires. In some cases, a natural tooth that is infected has to be completely removed and replaced by dentures. Regardless of the exact price, most root canal procedures can seem prohibitively expensive to some patients.
However, because a root canal is a medically necessary procedure, not undergoing it may not be an option. Thankfully, there are several ways to make it more affordable. In the next section, we’ll go over your options for getting a root canal with no insurance.
How Can I Get a Root Canal With No Insurance?
If you need to have a root canal procedure done but don’t have insurance, then there are several options that you can turn to. Here are five of the best options for low-cost root canal procedures.
1. Dental Schools
Advanced dental students need to meet practicum requirements in order to become licensed dentists. To thank the volunteers who allow this to happen, dental schools offer discounts on dental services that are as high as 50%. With a dental school, a root canal can run you several hundred dollars.
You may understandably feel worried about having services performed by a dental student. However, students undergo extensive schooling before they are able to perform procedures on patients. In addition, every step of the procedure will be supervised by a licensed dentist. As such, the quality of your root canal may be on par with that of a professional dentist.
2. Public Clinics
Depending on where you live, you may have access to public clinics that are run by local or state health departments. These clinics are usually subsidized by the government, which is why they can offer dental services that are either free or on a sliding scale. These clinics employ licensed dentists. As such, the quality of dental services tends to be high.
3. Government Dental Coverage
If you fall below a certain income threshold, then you may be eligible for government-subsidized health insurance. Programs such as Medicaid offer comprehensive health care plans that often include dental benefits. Similar to most health care plans, you might have to pay a small copayment or deductible to receive dental services.
While a financing plan won’t technically reduce the price of a root canal, it can make paying for the procedure much more manageable. Depending on your dental provider, you might be able to split up the cost of a root canal over the course of three, six, or even 12 months.
Because working with health insurance companies is incredibly time-consuming, some dentists offer discounts on their services to those who pay out-of-pocket.
Flossy has partnered with dental professionals in the Arizona area to offer our clients discounts as high as 50%. Using the Flossy app, our website, or our live call center, you can find the ideal dentist, book your root canal appointment, and pay for it in just minutes.
If you experience a tooth infection that reaches the deeper parts of the tooth, then getting a root canal as soon as possible is important to prevent further complications. However, if you don’t have dental insurance, then paying for a root canal may seem impossible.
Fortunately, you have several options for getting a root canal procedure at a discount. A dental school, a public clinic, a government-subsidized health care plan, or a financing option can all be considered to help you pay for the procedure.
If the above options are not ideal for you, then booking your root canal procedure with Flossy may be the best choice. With our carefully-vetted dental professionals, you’ll be getting the highest-quality dental services at a fraction of the cost of regular dentists.