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The cost of a root canal varies widely, mostly depending on the tooth needing the procedure and the strength of the patient’s dental insurance plan. For those with average insurance, root canal therapy could set you back an average of $200 — $500 out of pocket, but without insurance the bill is closer to $1,000 in many areas of the U.S.
The Average Cost of a Root Canal for Different Teeth
The first item you’ll want to consider is what tooth is infected and in need of root canal therapy. The molars are most expensive, as they require more work. All prices vary by region and specific dental office, though, so take note of the ranges. Keep in mind that after the root canal, your dentist will need to put in a crown, which can add upwards of $1,000 to the total bill.
Average cost of root canal
Front (anterior) tooth
|$600 - $900|
|$700 - $1,000|
|$1,000 - $1,400|
How Insurance Affects the Cost of a Root Canal
The most comprehensive dental plans greatly reduce the out-of-pocket payment for a root canal, sometimes by more than half. For example, the highest option of coverage offered by some employers would bring a $1,000 root canal down to $300 or $500. These plans, though, come with a larger monthly payment, up to around $100 - $150 per month depending on the employer.
Basic dental plans, on the other hand, have a lower monthly payment, and some are even provided free of charge by some employers. However, those plans don’t cover much beyond preventive maintenance like regular cleanings and exams. With less comprehensive dental coverage, you may pay full price for a root canal, but you may also get a percentage covered.
Although children’s dental benefits are part of the Medicaid program, adult dental benefits through Medicaid depend on the state you live in.
Before scheduling your root canal, take a close look at the dental coverage you have, if applicable. Dental insurance plans vary widely by provider, in both monthly costs and level of coverage, but most plans will have an impact on your final cost.
Unfortunately, there isn’t often notice ahead of time. You may ask your dentist about a toothache and then have to schedule your procedure for the following week, so instead of shopping for plans you’ll likely have to learn about what your existing plan offers or does not offer.
If you do not have insurance, the full cost of the procedure, and any additional costs, will be your responsibility. However, some dental offices are open to discussing payment plans or deals in order to avoid letting the infection get worse. If it becomes really bad, you then may be discussing the costs of getting the tooth removed, which are higher than the cost of a root canal.
Health Savings Account
If you’re eligible for a Health Savings Account (HSA), you may want to use that to help with any remaining out-of-pocket costs in order to save a bit on your taxes. HSAs permit deposits of up to $3,350 per year per person, or $6,750 per family (in 2016).
Cost of Root Canals Across the U.S.
Root canals, like cars and homes, cost more in certain areas of the U.S. Here are some overviews of quotes by region. You may want to ask additional questions if you’re quoted a price nowhere near these ranges, whether low (quality concerns) or high (overcharging).
Average cost of molar root canal
|$900 - $1,100|
|$1,00 - $1,200|
|$1,200 - $1,400|
|$1,500 - $2,000|
There are additional costs involved with getting a root canal beyond the actual procedure. These are generally a small percentage when compared to the total cost of the procedure, and mainly encompass medications you need to take before and after the root canal.
Before the Root Canal
If you cannot get your procedure right away, you may be given a prescription of antibiotics to take until root canal day.
You’ll have to factor in several hundred more dollars for the restoration procedure needed to make sure the tooth is protected and able to continue to function in your mouth without breaking. A crown to protect the tooth can cost up to around $1,000. However, insurance may assist.
Some providers perform root canals in one sitting, while others ask you to return a couple of times to ensure the infection was totally removed. If you do not have paid time off work, those additional hours away might be a factor in determining where to go.
After the Root Canal
While you heal, you may be given a prescription for a small quantity of painkillers. To avoid taking prescription opioids longer than necessary, you’ll likely want to switch to an over-the-counter option like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, at around $10, when possible.
There’s a chance that more dental work will be required if the infection wasn’t fully cleaned out, which could also lead to more procedures with more charges, or even a removal of the tooth if necessary. That would be followed with an implant tooth, also costly, and could happen down the road after your procedure. You might want to get a quote for additional services just in case, so you won’t be surprised.
If you’re feeling a lot of pain immediately after the root canal therapy, you may need to take a day off of work, so be sure to factor in lost wages or personal days. However, most people find the pain is tolerable. A bit of time off work may be required for follow-up visits, too.
How to Save on the Cost of a Root Canal With Student Clinics
If the prices you’ve seen are prohibitive, you may want to look at a dentistry school clinic, if your area has one. Dental students treat patients under the direct supervision of dental faculty, and the price would be more affordable. This is especially true if you’re in a lower income bracket, as most student clinics are tailored to help those in the community in need of dental work. Some universities that offer student dental clinics are UCLA, Tufts University, the University of Michigan and New York University.