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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 cost of a root canal depends primarily on the complexity of your case

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 steps of a root canal

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.

Cost Breakdown

To gain a comprehensive picture of treatment cost, you have to take into account several factors:

The Procedure

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 Restoration

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.

The Type of Doctor

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.

Re-Treatment

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.

Insurance Coverage

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.

Practice Policy Update Regarding COVID-19 View Update

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To Our Wonderful Family of Patients:

Last night, my wife Connie and I enjoyed the most delicious take-out dinner from FIG restaurant. As always, the food was excellent; however, it was most satisfying to see the local restaurant, along with others, begin its comeback. Our resilient city feels like it is coming back to life—parks are opening and folks and families are enjoying the wonderful spring Charleston air. The Rink dental team is, too, readying itself for the next chapter of practicing dentistry as the community begins reopening its doors.

We are concentrating on continuing to advance our rock-solid foundation of state-of-the-art infection control. We were blessed to keep our dedicated and passionate team employed during the crisis, and have devoted the entire month of April to research, systematically developing, purchasing and installing the best additional infection control protocols and equipment available. We are ready. This month we will begin the process of a “soft opening” of our practice. What this means for our patients is a resumption of the same excellent restorative, esthetic, and preventive care in the safest and most secure environment available anywhere.

Additional safety steps will include asking our patients to wait for their appointments in their cars rather than in the reception area. We will ask that you take a moment to fill out a short questionnaire upon your arrival regarding your health and recent travels. We will take everyone’s temperature (including the team) with a forehead scanner as you enter the practice. We will clean and disinfect all touchpoints in the office in between each patient. We have procured the highest quality KN95 masks and face shields for the staff and have carefully researched and purchased the most advanced aerosol containment and purification systems available for the safety of all our patients. These are a few examples of how we have added additional layers of protection for your and our staff’s benefit.

Finally, I wholly understand that each one of you is an individual with specific desires, needs, and comfort levels. I want you to know that we are here to actively listen to you and to create the best environment for your emotional health. Some will be ready sooner than others to receive care again at our office. Let’s keep the lines of communication open and please know that our relationship with you and your family is our highest priority.

We look forward to reuniting with everyone but until that time it is our wish that you enjoy good health, good spirits, and peace.

To your optimal dental health,

- John F. Rink, DDS, AAACD and team

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