What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a dental treatment that addresses inflammation inside the tooth.
The outer part of your tooth is made from a hard material full of minerals. However, the inside of the tooth is full of nerves, which bring oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the tooth. These nerves are collectively referred to as “the pulp.”
When tooth decay gets really advanced, the pulp inside the tooth can get infected, which can lead to pain and inflammation. If the infection isn’t addressed in time, the nerves inside the tooth can die and become breeding grounds for bacteria. This increases the chances of a life-threatening infection.
A root canal treatment can clean up these dead nerves. During a root canal, a dentist removes the dead nerves and disinfects the area. A root canal may save not only the tooth but also prevent serious medical complications.
A root canal treatment can be completed in just one visit. However, if the infection is severe, the tooth may need to be disinfected over the course of several visits to keep the infection from spreading.
After a root canal, the treated tooth can last a lifetime — as long as you practice good oral hygiene.
Who Needs a Root Canal Treatment?
Only your dentist can tell you if you need a root canal treatment. However, if you experience significant pain in your tooth, chances are that it’s an infection that needs to be cleaned out.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, see your dentist as soon as possible. Keep in mind: If an infected tooth isn’t treated promptly, then a dangerous tooth abscess can be the result.
- Tooth or gum pain
- Extreme sensitivity to heat or cold
- Sudden tooth discoloration
- Signs of a dental abscess
- Swollen lymph nodes
Of course, some severe tooth infections don’t show many symptoms. This is usually the case with old root canals, where the nerve is dead and can’t transmit pain signals. So, if something feels even slightly “off” with your oral health, it’s best to schedule a check-up with your dentist to be safe.
What Happens During a Root Canal Treatment?
What a root canal treatment looks like depends on your unique case. For instance, if you have a severe infection, then you might need several treatments to clean it out.
That said, here’s what a “typical” root canal treatment may look like:
After you come into the office, the dentist will inject your gums with a local anesthetic. This is described by many patients as painful. However, the discomfort shouldn’t last more than 20 seconds, after which the affected area will be completely numb.
Once the area is numb, your dentist will place a thin piece of latex over the affected area. This will cover the unaffected teeth while isolating the infected tooth, making it easier to treat.
2. Forming the Canal
After isolating the infected tooth and numbing it with an anesthetic, your dentist can begin the treatment. They will do so by drilling a canal in the tooth, which is how the procedure gets its name.
After the canal is formed, they will remove infected nerves inside the tooth. Last, they will clean the affected area with an antibacterial solution.
3. Shaping the Canal
After the infected nerves have been removed, your dentist will use a thin instrument to shape the canal. To remove any remaining debris, your dentist may disinfect the canal for a second time.
4. Filling the Canal
Once the canal is cleaned and shaped, your dentist will fill it with a resin-like material.
If your infection is mild, this can all happen in one visit. If your infection is severe, you may have to come back several times to clean the canal before it’s filled.
Depending on how serious the damage is, your dentist might place a dental post in the treated tooth, helping to strengthen it. They may also place a temporary crown on top of the tooth while you heal.
When your root canal procedure is done, your doctor will send you home. In many cases, dentists prescribe antibiotics to keep any infection from spreading.
If your tooth is extremely damaged, you might have to come back for another appointment so your dentist can place a permanent dental crown over the treated tooth.
If you’re worried about getting a root canal, keep in mind that it’s performed millions of times every year and has a success rate of up to 99%. And if you’re being treated by one of Flossy’s highly-skilled dentists, then you have nothing to worry about!
Does Dental Insurance Cover a Root Canal Treatment?
A root canal is considered a medically necessary procedure, so most health insurance plans should cover it.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that your out-of-pocket cost will be zero. Depending on your dental insurance, you might need to pay a deductible or a co-pay before you get treated.
Some dental insurance plans cover only a part of the treatment. For instance, they may pay for the removal of the infected nerve while leaving you responsible for the permanent dental crown.
How Much Does a Root Canal Cost Without Insurance?
If you don’t have dental insurance, you may be responsible for paying the entire cost of your root canal treatment.
How much a root canal costs depends on which tooth is affected. Molar teeth, which are located closer to the front, have more canals than other teeth. This typically makes them more expensive to treat.
The cost of a root canal treatment also depends on the infection's severity. If your infection is serious, you’ll probably need several visits, driving up the total cost of the procedure.
Here’s roughly what you can expect to pay for a root canal treatment, depending on which tooth is being treated:
- Front teeth: Approximately $600 to $1,100
- Premolar teeth: Approximately $700 to $1,300
- Molar teeth: Approximately $900 to $1,500
For those without health insurance, these can be very steep prices.
So, what should you do if you don’t have dental insurance? Well, considering that a root canal is necessary, skipping treatment isn’t exactly an option. That’s why Flossy created its award-winning app — to connect patients to low-cost dental services.
Flossy has a network of dental professionals in New Mexico, Arizona, and several other states. If you need a root canal treatment, Flossy can find you a discount as high as 50%. So, don’t delay getting this important dental treatment, and make your appointment if you feel any pain.
Low-Cost Root Canal in Scottsdale, AZ
A root canal is a medically necessary procedure that can save an infected tooth. If you don’t have dental insurance and are worried about being able to afford this procedure, not to worry!
Flossy can connect you with a dentist in Scottsdale, AZ, from our extensive network of professionals. Use our app to make your appointment today.
Dental Abscess | NCBI Bookshelf
Success or failure of endodontic treatments: A retrospective study | PMC
Choice of Treatment Plan Based on Root Canal Therapy versus Extraction and Implant Placement: A Mini Review | PMC