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What is a Root Canal and How Much Does it Cost?

Hey guys! Dr. Nate here. I want to talk to you about one of the most common dental questions people ask: What is a root canal and how does much it cost? 

Most people dread getting a root canal but it may not be as bad as you might imagine. And the more you know the better. Before becoming a dentist I had no idea what a root canal was and what the dentist was doing with all those files. Let me explain…

What is a root canal?

Our teeth are the strongest parts of our bodies. The absolute strongest part is the outer layer of the tooth called enamel. Underneath enamel there is a weaker layer called dentin and the inner portion of our teeth is where all the nerves and blood vessels reside.

When a cavity has a lot of time to progress it will eat through the enamel and then dentin and then make it’s way to the inner portion of the tooth where all the nerves and blood vessels are located.

Once the cavity has gotten that big the only way to save the tooth is through a root canal treatment. This is when the dentist or endodontist removes the diseased tissues from the inner portion of the tooth.

How does the dentist perform a root canal at thrive dental?

For a detailed explanation of a root canal click here. What the dentist first must do is check to make sure the tooth can be saved. If the cavity is too large then the tooth may not be able to be restored and the dentist will need to come up with a different plan for that area.

If the tooth can be saved then the dentist will remove the decayed tooth structure and make sure the remaining tooth is very clean. The dentist will then use files to remove the nerves and blood vessels from the inner portion of the tooth. This sounds scary but remember you are FULLY NUMB and can even get some type of sedation to calm your nerves (no pun intended!).

What do they fill the tooth with?

After the decayed tooth structure/nerves are removed your dentist will add gutta percha to the inner portion of the tooth. This is a calming agent that will strengthen the tooth. They will likely also fill any remaining areas with composite filling. This is a similar type of material you get when you get a filling.

Do I need a crown after an rct?

After getting your root canal treatment (RCT) you may need a crown. If the RCT was completed on a back tooth we recommend getting a dental crown because your tooth will have been weakened.

If you do not get a crown on a RCT treated tooth there is a high chance the tooth will fracture. Unfortunately we see that all the time. A tooth with a great RCT never received a crown and when the patient sees us the tooth is fractured and needs to be extracted.

If you get the RCT on a front tooth you may not need a crown but it’s best to discuss with your Thrive dentist on the plan for your specific tooth.

What is the cost of root canal treatment?

Root canal treatments can vary in cost mainly due to insurance and location of the infected tooth. In general the further back in your mouth the more difficult the RCT and the more expensive.

Root canal costs can be anywhere from $300 to $900 (or more if you see an endodontist). Insurance may cover all of it or none of it. It’s best to contact your insurance to see or have one of our Thrive Dental team members do that for you. Feel free to call us anytime!


Root canal treatment does not need to be a painful process. There are a variety of ways to make it better, and the more you know the more confident you will be regarding your treatment. Price range depends on tooth position and insurance. Make sure to call as soon as you feel any discomfort to maximize the chance of saving the tooth.

Check below to me explain the basics of a root canal treatment and as always if you have questions or comments please leave them below.

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