How Much does a Root Canal Cost?

Root canal is an expensive procedure as it is one of the more difficult and time-consuming treatments.

The reason it costs so much is that the dentist’s sugery is like a mini surgical theatre; not like your traditional doctor’s office and root canal in particular requires a number of expensive specialized instruments and that’s before you factor in all the staff, the lease of the building etc.

Whilst cost is always an important consideration, this must be balanced against the quality of the job. In general I would advise the dentist who looks after your teeth routinely be the one who performs the treatment, or refers you to a specialist of their choice.

Also bear in mind, that whilst the cost maybe high, it is in most cases cheaper and better, than having it removed and some kind of tooth replacement (assuming the prognosis is good) .For example an implant would be roughly three times the cost.

The cost of a root treatment varies quite widely, the following factors influence the price:

  • The tooth. Each tooth has a different root formation. At the most basic level, a front tooth with a single root will cost less than a molar (back tooth) with three roots.

Now within each root it is possible for more than one canal to exist, this is more common in certain roots than others. Root treatments are charged per canal not per root, because each canal must be separately prepared and filled. Each tooth has a common formation though you may find you are an exception and have additional roots or canals, or on occasions, less.

In general the following applies:

Your front teeth on the top and bottom, up to and including your second pre-molar have a single root and may have more than one canal. The one exception is the upper first pre-molar that mostly has 2 roots with 2 canals.

Molar teeth on the bottom have 2 roots and most often the front root will contain 2 canals so a total of 3 canals, though 4 is also not that uncommon.

Molar Teeth on the top have 3 roots and 3 or 4 canals contained within them.

  • Location. The cost of a root treatment will certainly vary greatly from country to country but also from area to area. I generally advise against taking holidays to sort out your teeth as complications frequently arise and are left for other dentists at home to sort out. If you have your heart set on it- do your research thoroughly!
  • Re-root treatment. A failed root canal that requires retreating is technically more difficult and time consuming and thus will incur additional costs for removing the existing root filling. Root canal failure rate is about 5%.
  • Complications. If a tooth is particularly infected or abscessed it may be necessary to drain the infection or redress the tooth a couple of times before filling it. Each extra procedure or appointment will incur additional costs.

Below is a list of the common item numbers that are necessary and an explanation of what each means. If you find out the cost from your dentist, you can call your health fund and quote the item number and cost and they will be able to tell you the gap that you will have to pay out of pocket.

The Australian Dental Association release information annually on the average prices for general dentists in an area, so I have put the average prices as of 2012 (across all states). Remember these are just averages only to give you a rough guide.

419- extipation (removal of the nerve) $171

415- preparing a single canal $253

416- preparing additional canals each $123

417- filling a single canal $249

418- filling additional canals $122

022- X-rays each (expect to have 3 as part of the treatment) $42

Remember this is just for the root filling, not what goes on top and there may be a consultation fee initially for the diagnosis and discussion of the options.

It may be possible to just fill your tooth, in which case you would have to add the cost of the filling on top, or you may need a crown aswell so you must add this on top.

Just so you have an idea, adding all these up you would expect to pay the following for:

A front tooth with a single canal $600-800

A molar tooth with three canals $1100- $1400

  • General dentist or specialist. An endodontist who specializes in root canal therapy will cost on average 20-30% more than a general dentist. This as I have mentioned, factors in the further training and high tech equipment that will be used.

There are no set fees, so the cost of a root canal will vary from dentist to dentist and from specialist to specialist.