A root canal begins with creating an opening in the affected tooth, to reach the interior chamber where the pulp is housed. Pulp consists of connective tissues and the tooth’s nerve. Root canal therapy is necessary when bacteria invade the pulp and cause a tooth to become internally and irreparably infected. The dentist will remove the diseased pulp, then thoroughly clean the tooth’s main chamber and all canals. Micro-instruments are used to thoroughly cleanse each canal and remove all diseased tissue. Next, the tooth is filled in with gutta percha (or another rubbery substance) and sealed with a filling or temporary crown. Eventually, a permanent restoration will be put into place.
The base price of root canal therapy ranges from $300 to $2500 dollars, depending upon the extent of your procedure. However, there are several other factors that will add to the cost of treatment, including the type of restoration you receive, the materials used, and your dentist's experience. In general, posterior teeth, or molars, are more expensive to treat, because they have more roots than other teeth. Additionally, you can expect to pay more for a high-quality dental crown than a filling. Your dentist can provide a more detailed explanation of root canal cost during your consultation.
The first step of treatment involves creating a small opening in the affected tooth to access the inner chamber. This area contains the pulp of the tooth, which is composed of blood vessels, the nerve, and connective tissue. The doctor must first carefully remove the compromised pulp, before cleaning and reshaping the root canals. After filling the space with a rubber-like substance, the doctor can restore the tooth with either a crown or filling.
To gain a comprehensive picture of treatment cost, you have to take into account several factors:
Prior to treating the affected tooth, the dentist must take x-rays of the area to determine the extent of the infection. Sometimes, x-rays are covered by dental insurance. Other times, they are a separate out-of-pocket expense. During the procedure, you will be provided with a local anesthetic to numb your gums. You may also elect to receive a stronger form of sedation if you feel especially anxious about undergoing treatment. Nitrous oxide, oral sedation, and intravenous (IV) medication carry their own costs. You may receive a temporary restoration if you need a custom dental crown to restore your tooth. A temporary crown, as well as a second visit to the office, can add to your expenses. Together, these elements typically cost between $300 and $2500.
The price of treatment will also depend on the type of restoration you need, as well as the material used for fabrication. Fillings are much less expensive than crowns and cost between $75 and $200. Crowns involve considerably more planning, and their cost ranges from $500 to $2500. A porcelain-fused-to-metal crown is a more affordable option than an all-porcelain or zirconia crown. However higher quality restorations will often provide more aesthetically pleasing results.
If you are treated by an endodontist rather than a general dentist, you can expect fees to be 30 to 40 percent higher. However, endodontists have at least two additional years of training and specialize in treating the inner portion of the tooth. In some cases, you may see an endodontist for the root canal procedure, and a dentist for the restoration. The location of the office can also impact the cost, as fees are typically higher in metropolitan areas with higher overheads.
If an initial root canal fails, the second procedure often costs more than the original treatment. These procedures are typically more complex and require a crown rather than a filling. Some of the biggest considerations that impact the cost of a root canal are the number and types of teeth being treated, the severity of disease or infection in the affected tooth, the type of restoration chosen, and who performs the procedure.
Before you undergo root canal therapy, it is important to understand your insurance coverage. You may need to meet a deductible before insurance kicks in, and your plan may have an annual dollar maximum. If you have an insurance plan that covers only part of the cost, you will be responsible for the remainder. Also keep in mind that some plans limit patients to one root canal per a period of time, meaning re-treatment would not be covered. Talk to your doctor about any questions or concerns regarding the overall cost of your treatment.
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