The Cost Of Root Canal Surgery

What Is Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic therapy, involves the removal of infected dental pulp from the inner structure of the tooth (the root canal). Once the infected pulp has been removed, the root canal will be cleansed and then sealed so as to prevent future infections. The procedure is performed under local anaesthetic, in which the patient is awake with their mouth numbed by injection in order to prevent any pain.

root canal treatment is used to treat infected teeth

The dental pulp is ordinarily protected by the crown - the visible part of the tooth. However, in situations caused by tooth decay, leaked fillings or damaged teeth, bacteria may gain access to the root canal, thereby infecting the dental pulp. If left untreated, this infection may cause a great deal of pain, and even a dental abscess. Other than root canal treatment, the only alternative way of combatting the infection is the complete extraction of the tooth.

Treatment may take several hours or may require more than one visit, depending upon the extent of the infection. Once the procedure has been completed, and any effects from the anaesthesia have worn off, the patient will be allowed to leave the surgery. Typically, in approximately 90% of cases, a treated tooth will survive for over a decade. Following treatment, it is important to maintain good basic oral hygiene in order to prevent future infections. This includes brushing and flossing twice a day, and avoiding sugary food and drink.

Tooth Structure

A tooth is made up of two parts, the crown and the root.

The part that is visible in the mouth is the crown, and the root extends down into the bone of the jaw, holding the teeth in position. The crown is coated in enamel, a hard coating to provide protection. Things like sugar and alcohol can wear away at the enamel and cause it to deplete. Dentine is the soft material found underneath the enamel, a material that forms most of the tooth. The root’s surface is covered in cementum, and dental pulp is the soft tissue in the centre of the tooth.

The Infection

Dental pulp is comprised of soft tissue, including nerves and blood vessels.

When harmful bacteria infect this pulp, it will begin to die. The bacteria can then spread and move out of the root canal into other areas of the tooth, accessible through the hole where the nerves and blood vessels are connected. As there is nothing to stop more bacteria moving through the root canal, the tooth can develop what is known as a dental abscess, causing it to become swollen and red.


As the bacteria is the cause of the root canal infection, it will need to be removed in order to treat it.

In order to do this, your surgeon may either opt to remove the tooth completely, or remove the bacteria directly from the system through what is known as a root canal treatment. This procedure is carried out under a local anaesthetic, and once the bacteria has been successfully removed, the canal will be sealed with either a filling or a crown as needed. Root canal treatments have a high success rate, as in roughly 9 in 10 cases, a tooth can survive for up to 10 years afterwards.

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The damaged tissue around the tooth should heal naturally, but you can take extra care of your teeth when recovering to speed up this process.

You should also avoid hard foods while you heal, and avoid sugary foods if at all possible. Maintaining good overall oral hygiene can also expedite the healing process, so you should brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, utilise anti-bacterial mouthwash, and floss. If you smoke, you should abstain in the weeks following your procedure to allow for healthy healing.

NHS Treatment Cost And Subsidies

Dental treatment is one of the few areas of the NHS in which service users are required to pay a treatment fee. The cost of dental treatment under the NHS will depend upon which of the three pricing bands the individual's treatment falls under. Band two, costing approximately £50, covers root canal treatment, in addition to fillings and dental extractions. Band two will also cover all services provided by band one, normally costing approximately £18, which includes initial assessment and diagnosis as well as x-rays.

There are exceptions to the above charges, however, as certain individuals will be exempt to treatment fees. Patients are therefore strongly advised to check whether or not they qualify for free treatment. Exemptions include: those under 18 years of age (or 19 if still in full time education), those in receipt of income based Jobseeker's allowance, pregnant women (or those who have given birth within the past 12 months), and those in receipt of universal credit, but please note this is not an exhaustive list, and variations may apply depending on whether you live in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.

Even if a patient's circumstances do not meet the exemption criteria discussed above, they may still be able to seek full or partial financial support for treatment costs. By filling out Form HC1 (available from NHS dental surgeries, JobCentre Plus offices, or from the NHS via telephone or online), a patient's level of income will be assessed. Following this assessment, an HC2 certificate (providing full financial support for treatment) or HC3 certificate (providing partial financial treatment support) may be awarded. These certificates will remain valid for a period of 6 months to 5 years.

Private Treatment Cost

Patients seeking root canal treatment from a privately run dental surgery will typically incur higher treatment costs than those using the NHS. It should be noted however, that prices may vary from provider to provider, therefore patients should seek a personalised quote wherever possible.

Typical costs for root canal surgery performed privately can be approximately £110 per root. Additional treatment costs may include any x-rays which may be required, typically costing between approximately £9 and £20, with an initial dental assessment and diagnosis falling in the range of £30 - £50. These costs are likely to be significantly higher during certain times of year, for instance, the Christmas and New Year period.

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