The tooth is the only body part that can’t heal itself. Once it’s damaged, it’ll have to be repaired by a dentist.
Take cavities, for example, they can affect your nerves if left untreated. Not only that, but they can lead to an infection in the mouth and jaw area, which can potentially spread to other parts of the body.
If that happens, a filling won’t be enough; you’ll need to get a root canal.
What is it? How does it work? What’s the average cost of a root canal? Find out by reading the rest of this post!
What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a dental procedure that’s used to repair and save a severely damaged or infected tooth. It involves the removal of the pulp, which consists of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.
After removing the pulp, the dentist will fill and seal the pulp chamber so that bacteria will no longer be able to enter the area.
When Do You Need a Root Canal?
A root canal will be necessary if the pulp—the soft inner part of the tooth—is injured or infected. For example, you might need one if you have a crack in the tooth or a deep decay due to an untreated cavity.
How can you tell if the pulp is damaged? There will be a pain in your tooth. Not only that, but there will likely be swelling in the area as well. Your dentist will be able to confirm the diagnosis with an X-ray.
How Does a Root Canal Work?
Most general dentists perform root canals. In some cases, however, they may refer you to an endodontist—dentists that specialize in dental pulp treatments.
Step 1: Anesthesia
Most root canals are performed under local anesthesia. The dentist will inject it into your gums after placing a small amount of numbing medication near the affected tooth.
You may feel a sharp pinch, but it will go away quickly.
Step 2: Removing the Pulp
The dentist or endodontist will make a small opening on the top of the tooth. They will then remove the infected or damaged pulp with special tools called files.
Once they’ve done that, they will clean out the pulp canal in your tooth.
Step 3: Applying Antibiotics
The dentist will coat the treated area with a topical antibiotic once the pulp has been removed—that will help to prevent reinfection.
They will then seal the canal space with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. More often than not, they will also prescribe you an oral antibiotic.
Step 4: Filling the Hole
The dentist will end the procedure by filling the access hole. That way, bacteria won’t be able to enter the tooth. Depending on the amount of tooth structure remaining, they might also need to place a post in the canal to strengthen it.
Step 5: Adding the Crown
The patient will need to come back for a crown if the root canal was on the back tooth or if there was extensive damage. It will provide the tooth with added support so that no further damage will occur.
The Average Cost of a Root Canal
The cost of a root canal varies widely. At the end of the day, it depends on various factors such as the location of the tooth and the severity of the damage.
For example, root canal treatment on molars tends to be more expensive than those on the front teeth. This has to do with the number of canals in the teeth; the molars can have as many as three while the front teeth only have one.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect to pay:
Front Teeth: $600 to $900 per tooth
Bicuspids: $700 to $100 per tooth
Molars: $1,000 to $1,400 per tooth
Are Root Canals Covered By Insurance?
It depends on the insurance plan. Some don’t cover much beyond preventative maintenance (e.g. regular cleanings) while others can greatly reduce your out-of-pocket payments for a root canal.
Keep in mind, however, that there’s usually a deductible that you have to meet before they start covering any of the costs.
Aside from the actual procedure, there may be other things that you have to pay for. For example, you might have to pay for a prescription of antibiotics if you can’t get the procedure done right away.
You’ll also need to get painkillers and other medications after the root canal. And once you’re done with the prescription medications, you may want to switch over to an over-the-counter option.
How to Save Money on Root Canals
If you’re on a budget, you may want to look for a dentistry school clinic. More often than not, they’ll be able to provide you with more affordable options.
While the procedure will be performed by a dental student, they will be under direct supervision by faculty so you’ll be receiving the highest quality of treatment.
Some universities that offer these clinics include New York University, Tufts University, UCLA, and the University of Michigan.
Getting a Root Canal
Hopefully, that gives you a better understanding of how the procedure works. As you can see, the average cost of a root canal depends on various factors. When in doubt, you can always call in and ask for a quote!
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