You're here because you need more information on root canal and the costs associated to save a dead or dying tooth.
Would it surprise you to hear that a large majority of patients who are recommended root canal treatment are wrongly diagnosed?
The following information aims to educate and inform those considering a root canal so you can make the right decision, and understand the range of alternatives available. Will you be a good fit?
What is root canal therapy?
In simple terms, root canal treatment is used as a way to save a tooth that is labelled as ‘dead’.
Root canal treatment, or endodontic treatment, is the procedure involving the removal of infected or dead pulp from your tooth root canal area (The area inside of the hard part of your tooth).
Once this matter is removed the cavity is filled with a permanent filling, and finally fitted with a crown. Your tooth has now been saved.
If root canal work is avoided and the situation worsen, the infection will become more severe and eventually lead to an abscess (A collection of pus that causes a bacterial infection and can spread to surrounding tissue with ease)
Who Can Perform Root Canal Surgery?
A general dentist or an Endodentist (who is a root canal therapy specialist) can perform root canal work in Australia. Various levels of education training include:
- General dentist – 4-5 years of education and training (general dentistry)
- An Endodentist – 4-5 years of education and training in general dentistry plus a further 3-4 years of specialist training
Taking the levels of training above into consideration, seeking the opinion of a specialist Australian Endodentist for a root canal treatment case is a wise decision for a more accurate quote and a higher chance of success.
The Importance of Check Ups if you Experience Pain in Your Teeth
Only half of Australian adults say they visit a dentist every year. Others only visit a dentist when necessary. This may explain why 30 percent of Australian adults have untreated tooth decay.
Regular dental check ups or preventive dental visits are recommended by dental professionals around the world.
The goal of preventive dentistry, which is what happens on your routine visits to your dentist, helps keep your teeth and mouth healthy. During these visits, your dentist may identify cavities, gum disease, enamel wear and other dental and oral health problems such as oral cancer, enabling early treatment. Professional dental cleaning is also part of preventive dental visits.
Identifying and treating oral health issues early helps prevent them getting worse. Early treatment is easier and less costly. For example, a small cavity can be filled and is inexpensive. But a root canal to save a tooth with an advanced cavity that has reached a painful stage can be very costly.
How often should you go for a dental cleaning and routine check up?
If you are in good oral health, a check up every year or every two years is good enough. But those who are at risk of tooth decay and gum disease may want to visit the dentist at least every six months.
Around 40% Australian kids experience tooth decay, also known as dental caries. Pregnant women are also at a higher risk of developing oral health problems including gum disease.
Retirees and older adults can save a lot of money with regular dental visits and treat oral health problems before they become too severe and costly to treat.
Root Canal Symptoms
Before you conclude that you need root canal work done it’s advisable to go and visit a general dentist for an initial opinion. During this consultation you may be referred to an Endodentist who will assess the need for root canal work.
Root canal therapy is a treatment performed by an Endodentist when a patient is suffering from extreme tooth pain, and the cause is found to be an infection within the tooth canal.
Other causes may include:
How Root Canal Surgery (Endodontic Treatment) Saves The Tooth
During the procedure, the infected or dead pulp is removed from the inside of the tooth with small specialised tools.
The dentist will make sure to remove all of the infected matter, as to avoid the problem re-occurring.
Once the tooth cavity is clear (including the canals), the tooth is cleaned with a strong disinfectant and filled with a rubber-like filling.
Once the filling has cured a crown is cemented onto the tooth, and the process is complete.
After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
The success rate of root canal therapy is extremely high when treated at the right time, and is a permanent solution.
Compared to extracting the tooth and having a dental implant, there are many advantages:
- Restored chewing efficiency
- Normal biting force and sensation are maintained
- The natural tooth remains so the appearance is unchanged
- An affordable option
- Root canal procedure
How Much Does A Root Canal Cost?
Root canal procedures are complex and every case is different and hence costs will vary from one individual to the next.
Here is a general guide to the cost of root canal:
$100 - $200
Root canal therapy (performed by Endodentist)
$1700 - $2700
Core Filling/crown post procedure
$200 - $450
$2000 - $3400
Points to consider when it comes to the above costs of root canal treatment:
When compared to a tooth extraction plus implant, a root canal treatment is alot cheaper
Root Canal Surgery: An Overview
Number of visits required
2 - first visit involves the drilling and fillings, second visit for the crown placement
Regular cleaning and maintenance
You will be given a form of sedation in the form of a local anaesthetic or nitrous oxide (happy gas) in order to relieve anxiety what is a root canal and numb the area that the dentist is working on.
A dental dam is placed over the tooth to isolate it and keep the tooth free of saliva.
The dentist will usually measure the depth of the canal at this point if they have not already done so.This step is important in order to ensure to whole cavity is cleaned thoroughly.
An x-ray will be taken using an instrument that send a small electric current down the tooth canal.
Cleaning the canal
During this stage the dentist will use specialist tools to access the infected pulp and thoroughly clean the area out.
This step sounds worse than it actually is – pain and discomfort will be minimal thanks to the sedation. All of the tooth canals must be cleaned out, regardless of whether they are infected or not.
Each tooth will have differing number of canals, so the time taken here will depend on which tooth is being operated on. Your front teeth usually only have one canal, whereas molars typically have 3-4.
Once thoroughly cleaned, the root canals are filled with a rubber like filling called ‘gutta-percha’.
Depending on your case, sometimes it’s necessary for a support post to be inserted with the filling as a way to stabilise the crown A temporary filling is placed over the tooth to protect the canal until the next visit.
During the last visit, the temporary filling is removed and a permanent crown is placed on the tooth. The process is now complete.
Success Rate of the Procedure
Pain After Surgery?
It’s normal to feel a level of tenderness and pain after having the surgery treatment performed.
Painkillers will help to manage this discomfort once the anesthetic wears off, and the pain should subside after a few days.
Your dentist will prescribe you with appropriate painkillers which will be Ibuprofen (to manage pain and inflammation).
After your surgery is completed you may feel some discomfort in the treated tooth. If the pain continues for more than a few days even with medication it is best to contact your endodontist.
How long does the recovery take
after the procedure?
Recovery from a tooth canal procedure only takes a couple of days. Most people can get back to their normal life the day after the procedure.
During the first few days following a completed procedure, you may experience sensitivity and a certain level of discomfort around the tooth. This happens due to the inflammation of the tissue, especially if you had experienced pain or infection before the procedure. This can usually be controlled with over-the-counter pain medications.
To be on the safe side, until your root canal treatment is complete, try to avoid chewing using that tooth undergoing treatment. This helps avoid recontamination or breaking of the tooth in its most vulnerable state.
Should I See A Root Canal Specialist OR Can I Just See A Dentist?
Endodentists have the ability to see deep within the tooth
Before having a tooth extracted it’s wise to have a consultation by a Endodenist. This is because the costs of having the tooth saved are much more affordable than the costs of having it extracted.
Read more about dental implants cost and procedures on this page.
Here are some considerations:
A general dentist may tell you that the tooth is beyond repair and that you should go ahead with an extraction, but an Endodentist’s opinion may prove different.
Here are some reasons why you should seek a specialist’s opinion:
Make sure that during your assessment an Endodentic microscope is being used. If not, you may not be receiving the most appropriate care available.
All good Root canal specialist will always use an Endodontic microscope in their assessment.
Will A Root Canal Procedure Work, Every Time?
The treatment is not 100% guaranteed, but on average 90% of root canal treatments successful.
Here is a helpful video to explain the success rate a little better:
Is a Root Canal Safe?
Root canals help save teeth that have reached a deep state of decay. "The effectiveness of root canal treatment is well-established," says the American Association of Endodontists. Most people getting root canal therapy do so without any mishaps.
But of course, as with any medical procedure, sometimes there may be risks and complications associated with root canal treatments. Infections may occur following a root canal due to:
Root Canal Treatment Costs Overseas
The cost of root canal procedures abroad are not as expensive as some other dental procedures such as dental implants, but they are still unaffordable for many patients around Australia.
With the emergence of dental tourism around the globe, it’s not difficult for a patient to find high quality dental work, including root canal treatment for a more affordable price overseas.
There is an increasing movement of Australian patients to seek dental care in Thailand, but it is highly recommended that prior to traveling for dental work you seek reliable referrals from people who have actually had similar procedures done.
Be sure to plenty of research on the practicing dentists you are considering and be sure to read through forums on websites such as tripadvisor.com.au
Here is a price guide for having root canal therapy done in Thailand:
$5 - $20
$200 - $300
$300 - $400
$350 - $500
$200 - $1000
Don't forget about dental insurance before you leave, and it's a great idea to speak to your provider to find out whether they cover your for overseas costs (most don't).
For more information about dental costs and procedures in Australia, including tips on teeth health and maintenance, visit this page.