Root Canal Treatment
Root canal therapy refers to the process by which a dentist treats the interior areas of the teeth, specifically that area inside a tooth that has pulp tissue.
Most people think of the teeth's pulp tissue as its nerve. While a tooth's pulp tissue does contain nerve fibers it is also composed of arteries, veins, lymph vessels, and connective tissue.
Root Canal therapy is also known as Endodontics, the term is derived from the Greek - Endo" is the word for "inside" and "odont" is the word for "tooth." Endodontics looks at the inside of the tooth!
Why do I need Root Canal Treatment?
Typically you will need root canal work to fix a tooth that has become very badly decayed or possibly even infected. Usually root canal treatment is needed if tooth decay is left for a long period of time and the tooth gets a bacterial infection in its pulp. This bacterial infection can cause a number of symptoms including:
• Severe toothache especially when chewing
• Additional sensitivity to heat or cold
• Darkening of the tooth colour
• Sensitive or discoloured gums
The bacterial infection will take hold of the root canal and start to attack the tooth nerve and root ends. In some cases an abscess can form at the roots of the tooth
Root Canal treatment can also be necessary if you suffer from severe gum disease. In some cases the gums can pull away from your teeth a long way leaving pockets that can trap bacteria. These pockets of bacteria could eventually damage the pulp of the teeth causing you to require root canal work.
Alternatives to Root Canal Treatment
Once you develop a root canal problem the best course of action available to save the tooth is root canal treatment. Generally the only other course of action with a seriously damaged or decaying tooth is to have it removed and replaced by a tooth bridge or other cosmetic treatments. These will generally be more expensive than root canal treatment if you are not lucky enough to qualify for free dental treatment. You should consult your Dentist to discuss whether root canal treatment is the best option for you.
Diagnosing Root Canal Problems
If your dentist is concerned about any areas of tooth decay they will probably take an X-ray of your teeth. They may also take an X-ray during a regular check up or a first appointment. This X-ray will help highlight any areas of tooth decay and show how far down the tooth the decay has spread.
What is involved in Root Canal Treatment?
The root canal work will involve a process where the nerve and pulp is removed (under anaesthetic!) and then the debris and infected areas from inside the tooth are removed, the whole root canal area is cleaned and then the tooth is sealed up. Sometimes an anaesthetic isn't actually required as the whole tooth nerve has been destroyed, but in nearly all cases you'll get one anyway, just to be on the safe side.
The first step is to remove any decay or old fillings from the tooth using an electric drill. Once the hard material of the tooth is removed they will then simply drill into the pulp to reach the root canal area.
This root canal area will then carefully be cleaned using a variety of dentist tools and disinfectant. The tools may look slightly disconcerting, but don't worry you should not feel any pain! This part of the procedure is very important as your root canal must be completely clean to avoid any recurrence of the infection.
The next part of the root canal treatment is to fill the empty hole in the tooth with thin pieces of gutta percha (a rubber-like substance). These thin strips are packed tightly into the tooth to prevent anything entering into the root canal area. Usually a final X-ray will be taken to ensure that the root canals are blocked up completely.
Finally the top of the tooth will be covered with a filling or a crown.
After the Root Canal Treatment
Your teeth may be a little sensitive for a few days after the root canal treatment, but you should not be in any serious pain. You should return to your dentist if you are in severe pain of if there is swelling after more than a couple of days.
Cost of Root Canal Treatment
In the UK you can either have NHS dental treatment or go for Private Dental treatment. According to our Whatprice figures then NHS root canal treatment should be £189 and if you went Private the cost could vary between £250-£350 pounds. Our readers have indicated that the average price of a private dentist performing root canal treatment is £339 (based on a survey of 150 people who have had private root canal treatment)
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"Very informative site. I am just in the process of installing a surgery to be able to do endodontic work. The cost of the surgery will be close to £100k (bank loan NOT government grant) put on top of that the £40k+ of doing a MSc, the sundries at around £75/£100 per treatment, highly trained staff etc then paying £200 + per hours for a root canal is cheap. "
"Recently I chipped a back molar, which had severely decayed over the last year due to my wisdom tooth growing out to the side. The NHS dentist I saw advised me that the tooth would need extraction and also a dental implant at a cost of £1400. I did my research and found a brilliant root canal specialist at Harley St who advised me he could save the molar. The price of the root canal was £850 plus an initial consultation exam. I urge people to do their research before getting an extraction."
"So theres a lot of banter and mis-information here. The NHS dental services, as far as I see it, is nothing more than a political propaganda agenda. When the old dentists contract was in place dentists were paid very little (£11 pounds or so for a filling IS very little!) but for every single item, each xray, each cleaning, each filling was paid individually. With the new contract...3 years or so on now. Dentists are paid a set amount for every unit of dental activity UDA which is calculated on the highest costing item in the treatment plan. In simple terms then if I give you an example of patient A who visits the dentist and needs the following treatment cleaning, 2x fillings, 1x root canal and 1x crown. app1: Checkup xrays and cleaning plus treatment plan (15min and thats rushing it) app2: 2x fillings (45min at least) app3: root canal visit 1 (1hr) app4: root canal visit 2 (1hr) app5: crown preparation (1hr) app6: crown fit (30min) now thats a total of 4:30 hrs worth of work. Direct costs of the crown technician fee (£50 for a cheap crown) about £40 worth of root canal equipment which thanks to the DoH cannot be sterilised and re-used...even though their justifications are not evidence based. And lets throw in a mere £10 for filling materials anaesthetics etc...(very underestimated) ok lets do the maths now. practice earnings for above treatment plan avarege value of uda £24 x 12(value of treatment plan)=£288 - £100 direct costs= £188 the actual dentist that performs the treatment which more often than not is an associate receives 50% of this £94 lets take off at least 30% tax the he will have to pay = £65.8 take home pay for 4,5 hours work. That is a pathetic £14something an hour...for a highly skilled highly trained professional person....who by the way is taking all the responsability for the treatment and subject to being sued by the unhappy patient... and you are still wondering why he would rather take the tooth out instead? Not the dentists fault...its the government's policy makers that have forced this contract on the dentists without any vote or consultation. All in the name of saying that they have improved access to nhs dentists...which they havent anyway....so next time you see your nhs dentist think of the costs they incur. As far as root canal treatments go...I remember received a memo from the DoH saying that root canal treatment on molars is too complex for the general dentist and should be done preferably by a specialist and yes the fees range from £400 to £1000 for molar root treatment if you cant afford that then ask to be referred to a teaching hospital you might be lucky and get treated there by students under supervision."
ex nhs dentist
"I found this page quite informative. Ican see that some of the folk making comments have not had the benefit of peronal health care where for a reasonable outlay per month you can claim most or all of the money paid out for treatment back. Dental, medical and glasses being three out of the package. From what I have seen in my dental practice there is a three tier system for payment, inspections (£16:20), minor treatment(£44:60) and the biggie at approximately £200. Ask for price list NHS at reception ! "
"I Have just paid £46 for root canal treatment on the NHS this included cost of xrays. I will stay with this dentist forever now."
"I have had a few root canal treatments all on the NHS, and have never paid more than £49, the job is done well and i have never had a problem during or after treatment, so it really isnt what you pay for or the instruments used they are the same regardless it just depends on your practice !"
"I just had mine finished off today at my dentist which is on the NHS. It cost me £45, it took about four or five trips in total to finish it but the £45 was a fixed price. Had no problems at all with it. Suppose it comes down to the dentist"
"You could get a root canal job done with a specialist clinit in Kerala, India for less than Gbp 60 and you can have a holiday thrown in as well. Contact me at email@example.com for any assistance."
"I am in the process of paying £495 for root canal treatment. I had the same story as other contributors about the "posh" equipment that was necessary as my 2 canals were so narrow.It seems that NHS choices consist of three choices: extraction £46 on NHS, rudimentary job that wiil probably fail for £200 or good chance of saving the tooth £500! Surely this cannot be right?!... I also managed to haggle the price down!from £600!..."
"I just had to have a root canal done in America as I am working here. I thought I was being extorted as they charged me the equivalent of 450 GBP (670 $) although the treatment was absolutely expert. I guess you get what you pay for although now I see it's a lot cheaper on NHS but in some cases (as the person who got charged 650 GBP) I guess I wasn't being ripped off. "
"I just had a root canal done on a molar with 3 roots, cost me £650. I did enquire at another private dentist and they quoted from £540. Expensive but it is your health at the end of the day. You need to go to a good dentist for this treatment otherwise it can cause you a lot of problems."
"Has anyone actually had this procedure done on NHS? I might need to have it done but really can't afford to fork out £400+ for it. :("
"something has to be done about dental prices!!! were being robbed and the goverment is doing nothing about it how are they getting away wit this? we should be entitled to good dental health..i am 20 years old living on my own wit rent to pay and a car to run and a mouth to feed i only bring in 300 a week so i cant get my teeth fixed especially if it cost 1500! for a root canal and crown!!! this is only gonna lead to a bigger problem in the future for me and many others..come on give the little guy a break "
"I've just been told that my root canal is going to cost around £400 in an NHS dentist.... Is this how much is costs now? can anyone help? "
"I have an NHS exemption certificate (Working Tax Credit) and in February had a porcelain crown fitted at no cost.Yesterday I visited the same practice and was told I had an infected root requiring a specialist which would be £500 or extraction.As my previous dentist had left the practice I sought another opinion and visited another NHS practice today.They took x-rays and said it required an endodontist who would use specialist equipment and cost £500/600.My question is where are these NHS dentists who will carry out root canal work at anywhere near the £49 starting point I've seen mentioned.I can almost hear the mournful violins playing now but the fact is my takehome pay is less than £6000 a year (hence the WTC) and £500 is a couple of months disposable income.Any information or advice would be very welcome."
Roger from Coventry.
"Root canal treatment is a very complex procedure, and many things can go wrong that may cause the treatent to fail. Your dentist is likely to offer your the treatment under NHs or privately. The difference in the price relates to the quality of the instruments they can use and the Time they can take to do the job properly. Put simply time = success, therefore the only thing you need to ask yourself is how much is your tooth worth to you...£46 for a quick rushed job...or £200 for a thorough, well done job?"
"I've just had root canal treatment on the NHS...as I am exempt..my practice tried to tell me that the only solution was to have the tooth extracted...i pushed the issue am now in the process of receiving treatment... had my second appointment yesterday and have yet another to appointments to refill and have a final filling...quite why it has taken 4 appointments I'm not sure...but also overheard the dentist and nurse saying they could not use certain equipment as that was for private patients...if they say you can only have your tooth removed on the NHS push for treatment..or get a second opinion....they will do a root canal eventually..."
"My NHS dentist told me I needed root canal work but they could only do it privately because the practice does not have the necessary NHS equipment. I cannot afford to pay privately due to redundancy and no income. They told me they can only extract the tooth under the NHS. I have not had the tooth extracted and I am suffering from intermittent pain. I hope to be able to have this work done when I am back in employment. It's a two-tier system."
"For Root Canal Treatment I have been quoted £46 NHS or £449 Private. Is the treatment the same? And why such a difference?"
"What isnt always explained before you pay the price is the high failure rate which can occur any time from one week after treatment to 2 years ? If its complex then dentists will refer you to a specialist and the cost can be £400 plus for one tooth ."
"wel it is very descriptive. but i am experiencing 2 of those symptoms does that mean i need a root canal? i really dont want a root canal unless they knock me out!!!!!! "
"This was very useful after being told that I might have to have it!"
"Extremely informative and in clear easy to follow terms that have answered all my questions - such as why did my dentist say he would be filling my tooth with rubber! Thank you "
"I was just quoted £2-3 thousand..."
"i found this very helpful and laso made me feel less nervous about me having my treatment..thanks"
"I need some root canal treatment on an infected tooth. I was horrified today when the dentist told me there were 3 \'levels\' of root canal treatment, one done by a specialist would cost £600!! then another would be £200 or a \'basic\' one of £46 I can\'t believe that I am being told there are 3 ways to to the treatment, he told me that the prices vary according to what materials and procedure are used. I\'m sure last time I had a root canal and crown it cost about £350 (had a white one) and I didn\'t pay in addition for the root canal treatment. Am I being had?!!"
"I found this article very informative."