Just the words “root canal” can make some people start sweating. However, for many it’s not the idea of an uncomfortable procedure that makes them worry. The cost of a root canal is at the top of many people’s minds when they find out that they might need to have one.
If the first thing you do when your dentist suggests a root canal is start googling how much it’s going to cost, you can soon get confused about exactly what you could be paying for the procedure. And when there are alternatives to a root canal, it might start to seem like there could be a cheaper option.
So what exactly does a root canal cost, and is it worth the price?
What Is the Cost of a Root Canal?
The problem with determining the cost of a root canal is that there is no set cost. The price that you pay will depend on a number of factors, including the tooth that needs to be worked on and the dentist you choose. Of course, you also need to take into account how much you would be paying yourself and how much might be covered by insurance or other means.
The tooth that needs to be worked on and the number of canals it has will affect the price. For example, working on an incisor, which typically has one canal, will cost less than a root canal for a molar. The actual cost of a root canal could range from around $1,200 to $2,000. In addition, having a crown fitted after the root canal procedure could cost a further $1,500 to $1,800. The truth is that the cost can vary wildly for a root canal treatment.
The estimated costs for a root canal can seem high, and you might consider whether there are other options. However, having the root canal treatment so that you can save the tooth is likely to be a smarter option and save you money long-term.
What Is the Alternative to a Root Canal?
If you do want to have a root canal, the other option is having the affected tooth removed. A simple tooth extraction certainly looks cheaper on the face of it. It is likely to cost somewhere in the region of between $150 and $350. While you could be paying a 10th of what you would pay for a root canal if you choose an extraction, it doesn’t mean that it’s the most financially sound option. The extraction itself might not cost much, but having a tooth removed could mean further expenses in the future.
Firstly, if you want to replace the tooth, that’s one expense that you will need to consider. There are different options, including dental bridges, dentures, and dental implants.
A dental implant is the most expensive option of these, and it can take a while to insert too. The implant needs to be inserted and allowed to heal before the prosthetic tooth can be added, and the whole process can take a number of months. An implant could cost you around $5,000, making it much more pricey than a root canal. Additionally, dental insurance might not cover the cost of an implant when there are other options available.
Even the cheaper options for replacing a tooth will add to the costs of extraction. Dentures or bridges will also add to your dental bill, and they might not be the right choice to replace a tooth or several teeth.
Your next thought might be that you don’t necessarily need to replace a missing tooth. If you have a tooth extraction toward the back of your mouth, it might not even be particularly visible. While this is technically true, there can be several reasons not to simply leave the gum exposed if you have a tooth removed.
Problems When You Lose a Tooth
Having a tooth extracted is usually a fairly straightforward procedure. The extraction doesn’t take long, and the gum heals within a week or two. However, although it’s an easy option and can be cheaper initially, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice. Losing a tooth can also mean that complications can occur.
In the short term, there is a chance of problems developing. While your gum is healing after an extraction, you can develop a dry socket. This isn’t particularly common, but can occur in about 3% to 4% of extractions and is more likely in difficult extractions. This is when a blood clot doesn’t form or breaks down too early, which exposes the bone. It can be very painful and needs to be treated with a medicated dressing to help it heal. Dry socket can be more likely to occur in smokers and women who take birth control medication too.
There are other potential risks during and immediately after a tooth extraction, but most of them are rare. However, there are also more long-term issues to consider when you have a tooth extracted.
One thing that can be affected if you have a tooth extracted is your bite. After having a tooth removed, it can cause your other teeth to start shifting. There can be a benefit to this, as it helps to close the gap left by the missing tooth. However, it can also mean that your bite is affected and you’re not able to chew as comfortably as you could before. A missing tooth could also affect your speech, depending on where it is. If you have an extraction, your dentist may recommend replacing the missing tooth with a bridge, denture or implant to prevent your teeth shifting and changing your bite. This will add extra costs to the extraction of your tooth.
If you don’t have the extracted tooth removed, you might need to pay to have your bite corrected later. An improper bite could lead to damage to other teeth, which will then require further dental work. This could mean wearing braces, Invisalign, or a retainer or having other treatment from an orthodontist. Another risk is bite collapse, which is also called loss of vertical dimension of occlusion and means that the lower jaw rotates closer to the upper jaw. This can lead to changes in the muscle contractions needed to chew.
Another issue that can occur is the death of the bone underneath the extracted tooth, which is a condition known as osteoradionecrosis. People who have a history of radiation treatment around their head and neck have a higher risk of being affected by this condition due to damage to the blood vessels caused by radiation.
The Advantages of a Root Canal
Extracting a tooth might be quick and cheap, but it’s not necessarily the best solution. A root canal is also a fairly straightforward procedure most of the time, and it saves your tooth so you get to keep it. Holding onto your natural tooth has some excellent advantages, making a root canal the right way to go and worth the cost.
Straightforward Treatment and Healing
Tooth extraction is often a fast option, although it can take longer for more difficult extractions. However, a root canal procedure doesn’t take much longer, and it may even come with less discomfort than an extraction. A root canal will typically take around an hour to 90 minutes. Sometimes two appointments might be needed, first to clean out the canals and then to fill and seal the tooth to protect it. If everything is completed in one minute, the treatment will last a little longer, but you won’t need to return for a second appointment.
As well as being relatively straightforward, a root canal could even result in less discomfort during recovery than have an extraction. You will have anesthesia during the treatment and you will quickly start to heal.
Stop the Spread of Infection
A root canal with stop the spread of an infection from one tooth to other teeth. The sooner you stop the infection, the more chance you will have of being able to save the tooth. The root canal procedure will clean out the tooth and remove the infected pulp so that it can be filled and capped. While an extraction also removes the infection, it means losing the tooth at the same time.
Keep Your Tooth
Getting to keep your tooth is one of the big benefits to a root canal procedure. This is probably of particular interest to you if the infected tooth is one that is more visible. If you have it removed, you will have a more obvious gap that you might need to fill with a prosthetic tooth of some kind. By keeping your tooth, you won’t need to wait for an extraction to heal and you won’t need to pay for an implant, denture or bridge. If you do remove a tooth and have an implant, you could be waiting for months before it can be permanently implanted.
Improve Your Smile
One reason that many people don’t want to have a missing tooth is that it will affect the way their smile looks. When you have a tooth extracted at the back of your mouth, it’s often not very visible, unless you open your mouth wide. However, if you have a tooth removed closer to the front of your mouth, it’s likely to be much more visible. If you don’t want to feel shy or embarrassed about talking, smiling and laughing, getting to keep your tooth is an excellent solution. You will have the natural tooth that matches all of your other teeth, but that is patched up with a visually appealing crown too. The color of the crown can be adjusted to match your natural teeth.
While having a tooth replaced is a possibility, it won’t be the same as having your natural tooth. The most natural and permanent option is a dental implant, which could cost you thousands of dollars. You will save money by choosing a root canal, instead of having to replace a tooth, and getting to keep your natural smile.
Prevent Jaw Bone Deterioration
Having a tooth removed can also mean that the jaw bone deteriorates over time, especially if the tooth isn’t replaced. When you have a root canal procedure, it means you can keep your natural tooth in and avoid an extraction. You prevent the risk of the jaw bone deteriorating because it’s protected by keeping the tooth it. You also remove the risk of exposing the jaw bone to the air when a dry socket occurs, which is a risk that can occur after a tooth extraction.
Avoid Changes to Your Bite
When you extract a tooth without replacing it with an artificial tooth, it can affect your bite. The missing tooth might cause your other teeth to move to close the gap. There are some times when this can be beneficial, such as when you have an overcrowded mouth, but it can also change your bite so you chew differently and less comfortably. If you want to avoid changes to your bite, which could cost a lot of money to correct later, a root canal will prevent this problem. Braces and other orthodontic solutions to correct your bite could cost a lot more than a root canal procedure.
Save Money Long-term
Ultimately, you could save money long-term by choosing a root canal over a tooth extraction. A simple extraction might be the cheaper option initially, but it could lead to higher costs later on. Whether you want to replace the missing tooth or having a tooth missing causes further problems for you, the costs associated with your extraction could quickly get higher. The initial cost of a root canal procedure is higher, but it allows you to keep your natural tooth and removes the infection. Your teeth will remain functional, possibly look better than before and won’t face the complications that could be caused by an extraction.
If you choose to have a root canal, the cost of the procedure will be worth it to save your tooth. Should you have questions about a root canal and live in the Grande Prairie area, contact Northern Dental Centre today!