What Root Canals Cost and Why the Cost Varies

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If you've had tooth pain, you know it can make your wallet hurt too. Emergency dental care is expensive, which is why it's recommended you keep regular oral check-ups at least twice per year to head off any potential problems. If, however, your sore tooth requires a root canal to fix, don't suffer sticker shock. Understand how much root canals cost and why that cost may vary based on a few factors. Here's the general rundown for root canals and what they'll ultimately cost you.

Location, Location, Location

The actual amount your dentist charges for a root canal may vary greatly. Why the big discrepancy in price? According to the American Association of Endodontists, one of the main factors is actually the location of the tooth that needs to be repaired. If your cavity is on one of your front teeth, it will cost less. That's because front teeth only have one root. Molars can have up to three. More than one root means more work for your dentist and ultimately, a higher cost. NerdWallet estimates that the national average costs for root canals are $762 for a front tooth, $879 for a premolar, and $1,111 for a molar.

The region of the country in which you live may also determine the cost. If you live closer to the coasts, expect a price tag higher than the national average, says NerdWallet.

Sooner Rather Than Later

Another factor in the cost of root canals is how severe the cavity is and what needs to be done to repair the infected tooth. If you visited the dentist as soon as you noticed sensitivity, the infection probably won't be as extensive and it's easier for the dentist to drill, access and fill the cavity. If, however, you dragged your feet and waited before making an appointment, the infection may become more severe. What may have been easily fixed with a filling might actually need a crown, which can tack on more dollars to your final bill. If your tooth is so severe that it requires extraction, it's the highest cost of all; not only will you pay for the extraction, but the repair and an implant or bridge as well.

Retreatment for Past Root Canals

Finally, if you have an infection in a tooth that has already had a root canal, the procedure becomes a little more extensive. While your dentist will still need to drill to access the infected areas, you'll likely require a crown, even if you only had a filling before. This might be why your bill is higher, even if it's the same tooth you've had troubles with before. To avoid this situation, adopt oral hygiene habits and brush with a fluoride toothpaste that cleans teeth thoroughly and helps protect teeth against cavities, like Colgate Enamel Health Multi-Protection toothpaste. It helps strengthen enamel and replenish natural calcium.

If you don't have dental insurance and you're worried about the cost of a root canal, talk to your dentist. He or she may be able to extend a special discount if you pay upfront or offer a payment plan to help ease some of the pain when it comes time to pay your bill. In the end, any ethical dentist would much rather you make an appointment and seek treatment, no matter the cost. That's because while it may seem expensive, root canals cost more the longer you wait. Let your dentist know your worries ahead of time and it's likely you can work out a solution for payment and get the root canal you need.