Hearing that you have to have a root canal is probably one of the scariest things you can hear when you visit the dentist. A root canal is an endodontic treatment that requires the medical repair of a diseased or injured tooth. According to the American Association of Endodontists, there are 15 million root canals performed each year.1 Stigma about the pain of a root canal is one part of the dread you may face when hearing you need the procedure, but the second thing most people worry about is the cost.
Whether your dentist refers you to a specialist or they do the procedure themselves, there are certain costs that depend on the damage to your tooth. Based on if you have dental insurance or not, here is what you can expect to pay, along with the basic information to know about getting a root canal.
How Much Does a Root Canal Cost?
On average, expect the cost of a root canal without insurance to be around $1,000.2 It is very difficult to estimate the cost without the specifics of your situation, but this info can help. Root Canal treatment usually involves several steps. These factors determine the cost of your root canal:
Your choice of dentist or specialist
Consultation & X-ray fees
Anesthesia and medication to prevent or treat infections
Root Canal location: Front teeth are less expensive than back teeth due to the number of roots or canals.
Extent of damage
Finding a Good Price for a Root Canal
The price ranges above can be confusing if you want to know exactly how much a root canal will cost you. According to FAIR Health, a non-profit organization, a reasonable cost for a root canal will average:3
Front tooth: $762
How Much Will Insurance Pay For a Root Canal?
Dental insurance that covers root canals may have waiting periods, limits, co-pays, or deductibles. Here’s how it works:
For example, your root canal will be $1000. If your limit for the year is $1500 and you have already used up $500 for other dental work, you have $1000 available for your root canal. It doesn’t mean you will get $1000.
Find out if there is a deductible or co-pay.
Your insurance may only cover up to a percentage of the cost of the root canal; on average, this could be 35%- 50% of the cost; the best dental plans may pay more.4 Call your insurer to find out how your insurance plan works.
If the dental insurance covers 50% of the $1000 cost of the root canal with no deductible, then your insurance would pay $500 for the root canal, and you would have to pay the remaining $500 out of pocket.
If the cost of your root canal exceeds the limit you had available; then you would have to pay anything over the limit out of your own pocket.
Getting Financing for a Root Canal
There are many options to get dental cost financing like a using a medical credit card, or getting a dental loan.
You may also consider the benefits of using an HSA or FSA.
7 Tips to Save Money on Root Canal Cost
There are a few strategies you can use to save money on the cost of the root canal.
Use a dental discount plan
Find out if you get a discount by paying in cash or one payment
Look for an organization in your state that can help with dental costs.
For example, Dental Lifeline provides free dental care to qualified individuals.5
Check pricing with several dentists or endodontists
Negotiate the cost
Strategically use your dental insurance
Check if you can claim part of the costs through coordination of benefits on a domestic partner or spouse’s insurance
Look into when the limits on your dental insurance reset
Consider the timing to get the most from your insurance
Look into dental schools or endodontic schools to do the procedure
Will Medicare or Medicaid Pay for a Root Canal?
Medicare will not pay for most dental care, including a root canal6
Medicaid covers dental services in some states7
Some Medicare Advantage plans may pay
Where to Get a Root Canal: Dentist vs. Endodontist
An endodontist is a specialist, where a dentist is a generalist. You don’t have to go to an endodontist to get a root canal, of the 15 million root canal procedures done, general dentists did 72%, and endodontists did 28%.1 However, consider that endodontists have years of advanced training and are experts in pain management.
Removing a Tooth to Save Money vs. Doing a Root Canal
A root canal may seem really expensive and you may be tempted to save money by removing the tooth instead.
Never remove a tooth instead of getting a root canal to save money. The costs of tooth removal may be more than root canals when you consider the cost of dentures, bridges or implants, plus the extraction.
If it is suggested to remove the tooth as opposed to doing a root canal, ask for a referral to an endodontist or get a second opinion to make the right choice.8
With all this information, you should have a better idea of the cost of a root canal as well as the tips you need to save money on root canal therapy to get the treatment you need as soon as possible.