Root canal treatment is needed when you have deep decay, infection, and inflammation of the pulp tissue. Hence, it is perceived to be the most painful dental procedure.

In this article, we help you understand the treatment, post-treatment care, and the cost involved.

Root canal treatment

Endodontic File in a Root Canal

Tooth pain is one of the most common and unpleasant experiences. Tooth decay or cavity is considered the primary reason for tooth pain.

The presence of deep decay causes inflammation of the pulp and affects the nerves, resulting in pain.

Therefore, a root canal treatment (RCT) is mostly recommended in such conditions.

The treatment involves removing the inflamed, infected pulp and restoring the tooth’s function.

Removal of the pulp makes the tooth non-vital. So, there will be no discomfort or pain.

In this article, we discuss the following in detail:

✅ Symptoms that point to the need for a root canal treatment

✅ The complete process of the root canal treatment

✅ Post-treatment care

✅ Retreatment procedure

✅ Total treatment cost

What Are Root Canals?

Before getting into the details of the treatment, you need to find out what are root canals?

Root canals

Structure of the Tooth

A tooth comprises a crown and a root. A crown is the visible portion of the tooth.

Meanwhile, the root is present inside the bone. The crown is composed of hard tissues – outer enamel and inner dentin.

The innermost soft tissue layer, housed in the crown and root canals, is known as pulp.

The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue, which nourishes the tooth and maintains its vitality.

When Do You Require a Root Canal Treatment?

Dentists recommend a root canal therapy when the pulp of the tooth is damaged or infected due to:

✅ Deep cavity

✅ A cracked tooth from trauma or injury

✅ Damaged or dislodged fillings

✅ Gum infection that extends up to the tooth root from adjacent supporting bone

What Are the Symptoms That Lead to a Root Canal Treatment?

Below are some of the symptoms that you may experience:

  • Pain while chewing or biting food
  • Tooth pain that keeps you awake in the night or increases while bending or lying down
  • Sensitivity to cold or hot food and drinks
  • Deep crack in the tooth
  • Discomfort due to a boil or swelling on the gums
  • Discoloration of the tooth
  • Referred tooth pain to other teeth, face, or jaw

Why Do You Need a Root Canal?

The root canal procedure removes the diseased pulp from root canals.

As teeth cannot heal independently, the untreated infection can cause pain or form a pus-filled abscess.

Meanwhile, the infection may spread to the surrounding bone and cause tooth loss.

However, an RCT prevents further damage to the tooth and the surrounding bone & gingiva.

How Is the Root Canal Treatment Performed?

A verified dentist or endodontist performs root canal treatment in dental office settings.

Here are steps involved that may help you understand the procedure better.

1. Preparatory Phase

Before the procedure, the dentist will discuss your medical history and current medications. [1]

The dentist will then take an x-ray of the tooth involved and explain the procedure and costs.

2. Local Anesthesia

The dentist will apply the anesthetic cream (for numbness) on the gums at the site of the involved tooth. After this, he will inject the local anesthesia.

Often it is administered behind the infected tooth, and not necessarily directly to the surrounding gums.

You may experience slight discomfort or burning sensation during the injection. [2]

However, within a few minutes, you will feel complete numbness in and around the site of the injection.

Depending on the type of injection, numbness may be felt on the lip, tongue, or chin as well.

3. Isolation

The dentist will isolate the tooth to be treated with the help of a rubber dam (nitrile or latex sheets).

A rubber dam prevents microbial contamination and ingestion of tiny, needle-like instruments or medicated solutions during the procedure. [3]

Tooth Isolation during root canal treatment

Rubber Dam Placement for Tooth Isolation

4. Removal of Infected Pulp

An opening is prepared on the tooth using drills. Through this opening, the dentist removes the infected pulp using small instruments.

Root canals are then cleaned and disinfected [4] with medicated solutions.

5. Filling of Root Canals

After the thorough disinfection of canals, the dentist or endodontist will fill and seal the root canal space [5] to prevent microbial contamination.

Next, a sealer’s paste and a filling material (called gutta-percha) fill and seal the canals. Then, the opening created on the tooth is closed with a temporary filling.

6. Final Restoration

After the procedure, the unrestored tooth tends to fracture easily. Once you feel comfortable, visit your dentist.

He will then evaluate the treated tooth clinically and radiographically.

If everything looks good, he will restore it with a permanent filling followed by a crown (cap) in subsequent visits.

You may take some time to get used to the new crown.

Root Canal Procedure

Root Canal Procedure

The root canal procedure is completed in single or multiple sittings (2-3 sittings).

The endodontist decides on this based on the condition of the tooth and the severity of the infection.

How Do You Know if the Root Canal Treatment Was Successful?

The treatment is considered successful if the treated tooth is functional with no signs of pain, swelling, or pus discharge. [6]

The absence of signs of infection in the radiograph on the follow-up visit further confirms the procedure’s success.

Can All Teeth Be Treated Endodontically?

Most of the teeth can undergo root canal treatment. Here are a few exceptions: [7]

  • Inadequate bone around the tooth
  • Fractured root
  • Inaccessible root canals
  • Inability to restore the tooth
Dr. Henry

Wondering what that loud beeping is during your root canal appointment?

It’s probably the apex locator which the dentist uses to measure the length of the root.

This device uses tiny electrical impulses to inform the operator exactly where the end of the canal is, without having to take an X-ray.”

~Dr. Henry Hackney, DMD
Root Canal Procedure
Watch on YouTube: “Root Canal Treatment Step by Step”
Video Courtesy: See3 Communications

What Happens if You Delay the Root Canal Treatment?

Delay in the root canal treatment may cause pain and discomfort. You may also experience swelling due to the spread of infection.

Even the success rate of the procedure decreases with the delay. Also, it becomes more expensive as it may require multiple appointments.

Dr. Henry

Infection can also spread to other areas of the body including the heart, leading to systemic issues.

Infection may also cause severe swelling in the head and neck leading to difficulty or inability to breath adequately.

~Dr. Henry Hackney, DMD

How to Manage Tooth Pain at Home if There is a Delay in the RCT Appointment?

Tooth pain can be temporarily managed at home using the following remedies:

  • Take analgesics (painkillers) for immediate pain relief
  • Rinse the mouth with lukewarm saltwater
  • Apply clove oil in small quantities for a short period
  • Brush twice daily
  • Avoid using hot packs
  • Refrain from eating hard or spicy food
  • In case of severe pain or swelling, immediately contact your dentist

Pain and Recovery After Root Canal Treatment

You may feel mild to moderate pain [8] or tenderness in the treated site for 24-48 hours after the treatment.

This may increase depending on the extent of infection in surrounding bone and gums.

Also, mild soreness of jaws is present due to prolonged mouth opening. Your dentist will advise you to take painkillers and antibiotics (if required) for 3-5 days.

You can resume your daily work on the same day.

However, If you experience the following post-treatment symptoms, [9] contact your dentist immediately:

  • Severe pain or tenderness for more than few days
  • Swelling around the tooth or on the face in the same region
  • Dislodgement of tooth filling or crown
  • Allergic reaction to prescribed medication
  • Uneven bite even after 3-4 days of crown placement (may cause fracture of filling or pain on biting)

Post-Treatment Instructions After the Root Canal Procedure

Here are some of the instructions to follow: [10]

✅ Avoid eating until the numbness wears off to prevent accidental biting of lips, cheek, or tongue.

✅ Take medications as prescribed to avoid discomfort.

✅ Do not bite with the treated tooth until the dentist completely restores it.

✅ Often the dentist reduces the height of the tooth prior to treatment to ensure the tooth is not contacting the opposing teeth.

✅ Visit your dentist as per schedule for complete restoration of root canal-treated tooth.

✅ Follow the oral hygiene instructions. Brush twice daily and floss your teeth to avoid infection

Do’s and Dont’s After Root Canal Therapy

What and When To Eat After a Root Canal?

• After a root canal, wait until the numbness wears off, and then have your food. It helps to avoid accidental biting of lips, cheeks, or tongue.

• Have a soft diet that includes yogurt, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, etc.

• Avoid hard, hot, and spicy food for the initial few days.

What Not To Do After a Root Canal?

Here are things to avoid after a root canal:

• Do not eat or drink until the numbness wears off

• Don’t bite on hard food for few days after treatment

• Do not avoid brushing and flossing of teeth

• Don’t forget to take medications

When Do You Need Retreatment for a Root Canal?

Root canal treatments, when done correctly in strict aseptic protocols, do not require retreatment. Research suggests the success rate of root canal treatment is ~95%. [11]

However, you may complain of pain or swelling with a root canal-treated tooth within months or years of treatment.

If such conditions persist, you may require retreatment to save the tooth.

Reasons for failure of root canal therapy

Reasons for failure of root canal therapy
  • A failure can occur due to the persistence of microorganisms [12] in the tip of the narrow and curved canals. This part of the root sometimes remains untouched during the cleaning and disinfection. Therefore, it may trigger reinfection.
  • It can also occur due to overfilling, [13] in which excess filling material extrudes out of the tooth root. Overfilling disrupts the seal and allows the entry of microorganisms inside root canals. The microbial activity gives rise to an infection.
  • In some cases, a loss of temporary or permanent fillings, delay in permanent restoration, fracture of the tooth, or incomplete removal of decay may contaminate the root canals, causing reinfection. [14]

How Is the Retreatment Procedure Performed?

After a thorough examination, the endodontist will plan for retreatment. During which:

  • He will remove the crown and underlying filling to gain access to the root canal.
  • After entry, the previous fillings will be removed.
  • The root canals will be cleaned, shaped, and disinfected thoroughly.
  • After disinfection, canals will be filled and sealed, followed by temporary filling placement. [15]
  • In some cases, the endodontist may perform surgery if an abscess persists around the treated tooth.
  • After completion of retreatment, you will need to visit the dentist for crown placement.

How Much Does Root Canal Treatment Cost?

On average, the root canal treatment cost (without insurance) varies from $900 – $1,500, inclusive of the examination, x-rays, and local anesthesia.

The price is dependent on the location of the tooth. The cost of placing a crown is separate depending on the material selected.

According to FAIR health (which gives an estimate of expenses involved in different healthcare services), below are prices of RCT in different teeth.

For this article, we have selected Texas as the state of interest.

Root Canal Treatment Cost (In USD)
Type of teeth Treatment Uninsured Price Average Allowed Amount  [16]
Front Root canal without restoration $865 $630
Premolar Root canal without restoration $972 $708
Molar Root canal without restoration $1,155 $842
Treated Tooth Core build-up $303 $210
Treated Tooth Ceramic Crown $1,361 $983
Treated Tooth Metal ceramic crown $1,010 $729
General Check-Up Consultation (new) $101 $68
Treated Tooth X-Ray (per film) $34 $23

The cost of a root canal treatment may vary depending on the tooth’s location.

For instance, the root canal treatment cost for front teeth is more petite than molar teeth.

The difference in the price is due to a single root in the front teeth and multiple roots (2-3) in the middle and back teeth.

As multiple-rooted teeth require more work and effort, the cost is higher.

Besides the treatment, additional costs are involved in core build-up, fixing of crowns, and x-rays.

Also, the endodontist’s cost for a root canal procedure is usually higher than the general dentist’s.

The cost of retreatment ranges from $1,100 – $1,600 based on the tooth’s location and cases’ severity.

In case of root canal failure, below are the costs involved in the retreatment of the tooth.

Retreatment Cost (In USD)
Type of teeth Uninsured Price Average Allowed Amount
Front $1,102 $803
Premolar $1,297 $945
Molar $1,604 $1,169

Some people may opt for extraction over a root canal due to the lower cost of extracting the tooth.

However, replacing the missing tooth to regain function is a costly affair and requires considerable investment.

When looking for an affordable option, root canal treatment abroad can come to your rescue.

Talk to our case managers for the latest prices for your favored destination.


When opting for a root canal treatment, choosing a highly skilled and experienced dentist is essential.

We at DentaVacation connect you with hand-picked dental offices overseas. Contact us and claim a free quote.


The cost of a root canal treatment may vary based on the location of the involved tooth.

The average cost (without insurance) ranges from $900 – $1,500, inclusive of the exam, x-rays, and anesthesia.

The front teeth have single roots, and the back teeth have 2-3 roots. The involvement of multiple roots increases the effort and cost.

Here is the estimate of the cost of the treatment with and without insurance.

Type of teeth Uninsured Price (In USD) Average Allowed Amount (In USD)
Front $865 $630
Premolar $972 $708
Molar $1,155 $842

Root canal therapy removes the tooth’s damaged or infected soft tissue layer (pulp).

It helps eliminate microbial infection and prevents further damage to the tooth.

The procedure involves removing the diseased pulp from root canals, followed by complete cleaning and filling of root canals.

A verified, board-certified dentist or an endodontist can perform root canal treatment. [17]

A dentist can perform a simple case. However, if the tooth involved has a complex root canal anatomy or severe infection, then an endodontist is better.

An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in diagnosing and treating problems associated with the tooth’s interior.

To become a specialist in the US, one has to undergo additional training for 2-3 years.

An endodontist regularly performs complex root canal procedures, including retreatment and endodontic surgeries.

Most of the root canal procedures take place in the dental office under local anesthesia.

Injecting local anesthesia reduces pain and discomfort and allows you to drive home without much worry.

However, in some cases, your endodontist may prescribe medications with a sedative effect.

Therefore, it’s better to confirm if you have been prescribed any sedative medicines.

Extraction of the tooth is the only alternative to root canal treatment in the severely damaged tooth with inadequate bone support.

Removal of the pulp makes the tooth non-vital or dead.

But even after that, the tooth receives nourishment from supporting tissues (periodontal ligament) and remains functional. [18]

A root canal-treated tooth becomes brittle and fractures easily [19] on chewing hard food.

The placement of the crown gives it additional strength.

Teeth present at the back in the oral cavity are more prone to heavy chewing forces than the front teeth.

So, front teeth may not always require a crown unless damaged, fractured, or discolored due to decay or trauma.

Dentist or endodontist completes root canal procedure in a single or 2-3 sittings.

Each appointment in the treatment may take about 60 minutes. However, it may extend up to 90 minutes based on the severity

The number of sittings may vary depending on the severity of infection, endodontist’s discretion, and patient’s comfort.

However, with advancements in technology, the concept of the single sitting treatment is gaining popularity.

It is not recommended to smoke after the treatment as it impairs the body’s response [20] against infection and delays wound healing. Smoking increases the risk of failure of an RCT.

Extraction of the tooth can lead to loss of function or esthetics. Removal of teeth may look more lucrative for a short time.

However, the cost involved in the replacement of missing teeth to restore function and esthetics is high.

Meanwhile, a successful root canal-treated tooth can remain functional for a long time.

Hence, preserving the existing tooth is a better option than extraction.

Dental insurance will cover the treatment or not depends on the insurance plan chosen.

It may vary from plan to plan. Most dental insurance plans cover about 50-80% of the costs involved in the procedure. [21]

So, it’s better to check the eligibility before the treatment.

The average costs of root canal treatment without insurance are range from $865 – $1,345.

Prices depend on the tooth’s location and the severity of the case.

The crown costs extra, ranging from $1,000 – $1,300 based on the material you choose.

Other charges include x-rays, examinations, and other procedures like post and core. Moreover, an endodontist may charge you higher than a general dentist.

Type of teeth Uninsured Price (In USD)
Front $865 – $1,052
Premolar $972 – $1,159
Molar $1,155 – $1,342

Get root canal treatment from globally certified dentists!

Call us today!