Root canal treatment – to cure an infected tooth root – is a common procedure in modern dentistry. But why is it so expensive, and are there any ways of reducing root canal cost?

This article on root canal treatment cost is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.

Private root canal cost

Most private dentists start their root canal charges at around £360 per tooth, with the price rising on a sliding scale depending on the number of roots, the difficulty of the treatment, and the number of sessions required. You may also have to pay separately for x-rays, antibiotics, and other peripherals. If you require a cap or crown, this will further increase the cost. Most private root canal bills are in the range £360 to £475 per tooth.

NHS root canal cost

On the latest scale of charges introduced in April 2008, if you’re lucky enough to find an NHS dentist, you will only pay £44.60 for root canal work, rising to a maximum of £198 if a crown is required. What’s more, these prices include any other work you require from the same price band or lower, within a two month period. So for £44.60, you can not only have root canal work done on multiple teeth, but you can also have any other fillings, x-rays, and scale and polish done too. However, NHS dentists are very rare, have long waiting lists, and usually do not take on any additional clients, so it’s most likely that you will be seen privately.

Is it worth it?

With NHS dentists becoming ever more scarce, most people will have no choice but to pay for private treatment – which means a bill of £360 or more. So what do you actually get for your money, and is it worth the cost?

Root canal treatment does preserve the tooth, albeit cosmetically, and is a permanent solution to the pain you will have been experiencing. Once you’ve had the treatment, your tooth is dead and unlikely to suffer any more damage or decay, if it is looked after properly. When you consider that you will wear your teeth every single day for the rest of your life, the cost may not seem so excessive. The cheaper alternative – extraction of the infected tooth – will leave you permanently scarred, as the tooth will be gone for good leaving a gap in your smile.

Is there an alternative?

Unfortunately, the short answer is no. An untreated infection will only spread and can cause further damage and more pain. There is no realistic alternative to root canal treatment other than extraction, so you have very little choice.

With even private dentists in short supply, there is little competition for patients, so it’s unlikely you’ll find a ‘low cost’ or ‘bargain’ dentist. What’s more, since NHS dentists have their fees fixed nationally, you will always pay the same there too, so there’s no way of directly reducing the root canal cost.

If you are fortunate enough to have a place on an NHS dentist’s list, then you should preserve this at all costs by ensuring you always turn up for appointments, always pay promptly, and make regular visits. With NHS root canal charges at a fraction of the private sector cost, maintaining your NHS place could save you a small fortune over time.

Spreading the cost

You can spread the cost of private dental treatment with what are called ‘capitalisation schemes’ such as Denplan. Your dentist will examine your teeth and decide roughly what the costs are likely to be, so you can spread that cost over the year in monthly payments. In this way, you will never be faced with a large bill, however, you’ll always pay, regardless of whether you have treatment or not.

You can also get some financial help through cash plan schemes, such as those run by ‘Penny in the Pound’ and ‘HAS’. These will usually pay a set amount towards your dental treatment, up to the maximum limit you choose when you take out the policy. Again, you will still make payments, even if you don’t make a claim for treatment.


Although it might seem a lot of money to have to pay out in one go, root canal costs are really worth it to stop the pain, preserve the tooth, and prevent further damage to neighbouring teeth.

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Root Canal Cost - Does it have to be so expensive?
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