Teeth X-ray showing need for root canal

Root canal therapy

A step-by-step guide to root canal therapy, its costs and more.

Root canal therapy is an important procedure that’s vital to the dental health of many Australians. However, you’re probably concerned about how much a root canal treatment will cost.

How much does root canal therapy cost?

Before we start crunching the numbers, it’s important to point out that costs can vary greatly based on the complexity of each procedure. The figures quoted below are only a guide, so remember to discuss the finer details of how much your root canal treatment will cost with your specialist.

The total cost of root canal therapy can be anywhere between $2,000 and $3,500. This total fee comprises the following expenses:

  • Assessment by an endodontist: $100-$200
  • Root canal therapy: $1,700-$2,700
  • Filling of the tooth after root canal therapy: $200-$450

These costs will usually be reduced if a general dentist rather than an endodontist performs the procedure. It’s also worth pointing out that re-treatment could cost up to one-third more than first-time root canal treatment, so keep this in mind when budgeting for the cost of the procedure.


Is it covered by health insurance?

In Australia, cover for the cost of dental procedures is provided by extras cover policies. However, to receive cover for endodontic procedures such as root canal therapy, you will need to have a high level of extras cover in place. You will usually need a “top” policy or similar. Entry-level policies tend to cover only general dental procedures, such as check-ups and minor fillings, while root canal therapy is classed as major dental.

If your dentist or endodontist has recommended root canal therapy, check with your health fund to see whether they will cover it. Keep in mind that the cost of the procedure may exceed the annual benefit limit of your policy, or that your fund may only pay back a certain percentage of the orthodontist’s fees, for example 75%.


What is root canal therapy?

Root canal therapy is used to save a dead tooth. In more technical terms, it can be used to save a tooth that has infected or dead pulp, as well as prevent the infection from spreading to other areas of your mouth.

Each tooth contains pulp, which provides the nerves and nutrients that healthy teeth need. But if the pulp inside a tooth becomes infected or damaged, it may die.

During a root canal, the practitioner cleans out the infected or dead pulp from the tooth’s root canal. The dentist then cleans and seals the root canal to provide protection against future infection. This includes the introduction of a permanent filling and the fitting of a crown to complete the procedure.

Your dentist will give you a local anaesthetic to ensure that the root canal treatment is painless, and after a successful procedure your tooth should function normally once again.


What to expect after root canal therapy

Root canal therapy is a complex procedure and it’s quite normal to experience a level of pain and tenderness once the local anaesthetic has worn off. Your dentist will prescribe painkillers to relieve pain and reduce any inflammation.

The good news is that the recovery period after root canal therapy is generally quite quick. Discomfort should be gone after a few days, so if you’re still in pain after this period, then it may be necessary to contact your endodontist.


Who do you see for root canal therapy?

Either a general dentist or an orthodontist can perform root canal therapy. Both professions require several years of education and training in general dentistry, but endodontists also undergo three to four years of specialist training in the field of endodontics.

With this in mind, it’s usually worth seeking an endodontist’s opinion about the best course of treatment. While a general dentist may inform you that your tooth can’t be repaired and recommend an extraction, an endodontist may be able to use root canal treatment to save your tooth.

In many cases, it’s actually much cheaper to treat the existing tooth rather than remove it and have an implant fitted, so seeking expert help may be the best thing for your dental health and it can also save you money.

Compare your health insurance options online or with an adviser

Picture: Shutterstock

Tim Falk

A freelance writer with a passion for the written word, Tim loves helping Australians find the right home loans and savings accounts. When he's not chained to a computer, Tim can usually be found exploring the great outdoors.

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