Advertiser Disclosure

5 Tips Before You Pay for a Root Canal

Learn how to save money on root canal with the correct preparation and the right medical insurance.

root canal

When you are a 22-year-old graduate, just released into the world, your understanding of financial management may be a little off.

For example, I had no idea what an emergency fund was, nor that you needed one at all times.

You can imagine my shock when I had to pay for a root canal right out of college as a new transplant to New York City.

You know the saying, "you live, you learn"? Well, I definitely learned through this ordeal.

Hopefully, I can pass on some of my lessons so you don't make the same costly mistakes I have made.

If I could have lived through the process again there are a few things I would have done differently to have saved myself the huge costs.

Here are some tips that will hopefully help you if you are ever in this situation, or even prevent you from getting into the situation.

How I Should Have Prepared for My Large Dental Cost

1. Be Prepared and Plan Ahead

Not expecting added costs was my biggest mistake in the whole dental process.

Upon graduation, I had responsibly set aside money for my move to NYC and even enough to live job-free for a few months.

After the shock of paying first and last month's rent plus deposit, my fund was crushed, but I still had enough to get by for a few months.

Then I started getting earth shattering headaches and pain in my tooth - anyone who's had tooth pain knows I'm not exaggerating.

Unfortunately, I hadn't set aside  three to six months income for situations like this and did not have dental insurance.

This toothache came at an epically bad time, but sickness and accidents typically do.

2. Shop Around for Dentists

After consulting Yelp, I found a doctor who was very accommodating to those without health insurance and was close to where I lived.

When I went to visit, he told me that he could waive the X-ray and consultation fee, which saved me about $150.

I instantly trusted him, imagining all the other things he could "waive" for me.

At the end of the visit, he confirmed my fears and told me that I indeed needed a root canal.

Here is where I made my second big mistake: I decided just to go to this doctor because I trusted him, had a good experience and decided it was easier than meeting with multiple dentists.

3. Calculate the FULL Price of the Procedure (and Ask About Additional Follow-Up Procedures)

This seems like a pretty obvious step when you have such a big payment to cover.

But as a naive college graduate, I just asked how much the root canal would cost.

Whether I was naive or the dentist wasn't transparent, is up for debate, but he only told me the cost of the root canal procedure which was $1,900 without insurance.

You can imagine my surprise and anger when I found out the follow-up procedure for a new crown to cover the tooth would be an added $1,200!

I got the first procedure at this office, but to help pay for the follow-up procedure with the crown, I decided to get a second job.

4. See If You Can Create a Payment Plan

I decided to pay for my root canal through a company called, a credit card for health care procedures.

After seeking the advice of my parents, I set up a plan where I paid $200 a month until my first procedure was completely paid off.

Although I initially wanted to knock out the payments as quickly as possible, I was advised to do smaller payments over a longer amount of time.

This worked out better because as long as I completed the payments by a set date, I would not have interest paid on the card.

This plan is not available at all doctors' offices and you may not be eligible for one of these no-interest plans.

5. Look for Yearly Insurance Plans

This may not be for everyone, but this plan I'd found through, an insurance plan site, ended up being my saving grace.

The only reason I trusted Careington was because a co-worker recommended it.

Sites like this need to be thoroughly investigated some may not cover the procedures you need or work with the doctors you need.

After paying $70 for the entire year, I was able to get my second procedure for $600 as opposed to the $1,200 it was originally going to cost.

I did, however, need to get the second procedure done at a different office that accepted this plan.

All in all, I ended up saving $530 on the second procedure. When you're a broke college grad, $530 is a lot of money.

Had I known about this plan earlier, I could have paid $580 for my root canal as opposed to the $1,900 I shelled out in the first place.

How You Can Prepare Your Budget for Future Medical Costs

These are some of the ways I wish I had prepared for my dental procedures, but there are many more ways to prepare your budget for future medical costs.

Having the right medical insurance and understanding your healthcare coverage is a start, but that's not all you can do.

1. Get to Know Your Family Medical History

When it comes to health and finances, the more you know, the better off you'll be.

Ask your parents about health problems they encountered around your age and into their later adulthood.

This can help you understand what to be aware of and learn about preventative medicine that can help you get ahead of future problems.

Better to not have the cost than to need to save for it, right?

On that note, consider genetic testing if there are chronic diseases in your family history.

If a doctor can tell that you are more likely to encounter an issue, they can help you take measures now to either prevent, manage, or avoid it.

It certainly doesn't hurt to ask.

2. Shop Around for All the Doctors You Need Before You Need Them

After you get to know your medical history, make a list of the types of doctors you'll likely need to see.

For example, you could seek out the best general practitioner for you, but also look at a doctor who helps with migraines if that's an issue you experience or a GI doctor if you tend to have digestive trouble.

By knowing who you want to work with before problems arise, you can make sure to look for insurance that they work with - or at the very least understand the likely cost that could come up for various procedures.

Plus, it's a lot easier to handle an issue when you have a list of names and numbers on hand than if you have to take to the internet to look for help.

3. Create a Healthcare Budget - and Contribute to It Monthly

After you have an understanding of your family medical history and the cost of your preferred doctors, start working on a healthcare budget.

The amount you contribute to this budget every month will vary based on what you can afford to save for this and based on the likelihood and severity of potential issues.

As you go through adulthood and find that your pay increases, don't forget to revisit your budget and increase the amount you're contributing.

Best case scenario is you'll never need it and this will just be extra money in your savings. But if you need it, it will feel a lot better to know it's there.

4. Take Advantage of an HSA or FSA If You Can

If you start a new job and the employer offers an HSA (Health Savings Account) or FSA (Flexible Spending Plan), jump on it.

This is tax-free savings that can be used for healthcare costs and can be a tremendous help in times of need.

The main question is how much to take out.

You might want to max it out considering it can cover more than just office visits (think prescriptions as well), but you should still spend some time reviewing your potential need before you decide the amount to take out.

3. If All Else Fails, Use a 0% Interest Credit Card to Pay

If you do find yourself in an emergency like the one I did and you don't have enough money to cover it, consider taking out a 0% interest credit card.

This is a great opportunity to borrow without losing a ton of money to interest.

There is a caveat to this, however.

If you take out one of these credit cards to pay for a medical emergency, make sure you create a payoff plan for the card immediately.

Good intentions may lead you to believe that you don't need a plan, but things can happen and those balances might drag on a little too long.

If you find yourself in a situation in which your balance wasn't paid off by the time the credit card interest rate went up, use a balance transfer credit card to buy some more time without interest. But make sure you make a payoff plan so this doesn't become an endless cycle.

It's Never Too Late to Prepare for the Future

If you've already endured a crisis like mine or find yourself in the middle of one right now, it's easy to think that you'll never see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it's never too late to prepare for the future.

Follow the steps mentioned above to get through this situation and then immediately get to work on plans that will get your finances ready for future medical emergencies.

As frustrating as these experiences can be, taking control and moving forward is a fantastic (and practical!) way to remind yourself that you right the path.

Compare Best Accounts Now

Ask a Question

Tuesday, 06 Feb 2018 1:49 AM
<p>In Chicago Dr. Jet specializes in root canals and has done exclusively that for 17+ years. Plus a root canal (no crown) is only $385!</p>
Friday, 03 Nov 2017 7:52 PM
<p>Root canals in South GA are 1/2 the price.</p>
Friday, 03 Nov 2017 7:51 PM
<p>NOT all American dentist charge this much!!</p>
Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017 5:18 AM
<p>Using Wild oil of orgenao, both bushing and swishing a few drops mixed with water to the affective area dayily, will slowly kill the infection. For really bad infections, mix a few drops with water and drink three times daily or fill small jell caps and take twice daily. Chewing cloves of garlic and swishing it will slowly kill the infection as well. Apple cider vinager both swishing and mix with water and drinking will also slowly kill the infection. All three combinded is a 123 punch to pian relife.</p>
Monday, 15 May 2017 11:48 PM
<p>Dental work in this area is crazy. There is no way a crown should cost over 1200 dollars. You have dentists in this area that charge that much and don't offer same day service. don't make these people rich. Next time you plan your vacation check out the dental prices. Mexico Thailand,Hungary,Vietnam,Romania, plus about 50 other countries.the work done in Vietnam or Hungary is at least as good as American dentists. don't let people try to scare you.</p>
Monday, 24 Apr 2017 6:06 PM
<p>Did they cover your root canals even though it was a pre-existing condition? Was there a waiting period on this insurance?</p>
Friday, 03 Mar 2017 7:42 PM
<p>If you have the time, look in to going to Costa Rica, Very good dentist, root canal and crown about $800. Today the Colon is 554 to the Dollar.</p>
Tuesday, 10 Jan 2017 2:46 PM
<p>Next time use coconut oil, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and activated charcoal. Can use a few of them together or separately. Might help the infections now if you want to start. Tooth paste doesn't actually kill bacteria</p>
Tuesday, 10 Jan 2017 2:45 PM
<p>The cheapest insurance I can find in Ontario is 60 a month and it doesn't even cover root canals or extractions in the first year.... Guess America has better insurance :(</p>
Friday, 02 Dec 2016 5:01 PM
<p>Thank you for this. I need to get 4 root canals....I was violently sick during 2 pregnancies and could not use toothpaste. I would literally throw up and could only brush my teeth with water. So today (12/2/2016) I called up careington. The yearly price is now $99 plus a $20 set up fee. And You get instant use of the savings once you find a dentist. The cost for a root canal WITH the plan will be about $440+ (as opposed to 1000+ without) and the cost of a crown is about $600 (as opposed to $1200+) so instead of paying about $2500 for a root canal and crown I will pay about $1200-$1400. Still a lot, unfortunately, but better than the actual cost. This does NOT include Xrays, which are an added cost. But those I can actually get for free from my actual medical insurance plan (which does not cover root canals). Either way, I recommend Careington based on the instant savings.</p>
Saturday, 29 Oct 2016 8:05 AM
<p>Step one: Fly to Vietnam.<br>Step two: pay 350 for a root canal and porcelain crown mounted on titanium.<br>Step three: Enjoy your super cheap vacation.</p><p>Seriously, don't pay for American dentist's cost of living. Round trip tickets from California to Saigon: $580, AirBnB for a month: $400 Everything is 1/10th the price compared to U.S.</p><p>If you have 1-2k to burn and can afford to leave things behind or on hold, get your money's worth.</p><p>The dental place I visited was called OCare. I come from an affluent city, and I was super impressed with how sterile and high tech the office was.</p>
Thursday, 29 Sep 2016 6:09 AM
<p>Smile great big!</p>
Tuesday, 27 Sep 2016 8:57 PM
<p>This might be fine for rear teeth, but when it's your front teeth, whatcha gonna do then?</p>
Thursday, 04 Aug 2016 6:25 PM
<p>But what are you going to do when your out of teeth eat baby food?</p>
Thursday, 28 Jul 2016 12:08 AM
<p>Lol he didn't read it correctly, clearly.</p>
Tuesday, 12 Jul 2016 10:28 PM
<p>Pull the tooth instead of getting a root canal. The cost to extract the tooth instead of saving it through a root canal and crown is preferable. Example: Root Canal and Crown at my dentist - $4,000.00. Extract the tooth - $130.00. Guess which one I'm having done.</p>
Wednesday, 28 Oct 2015 11:35 PM
<p>But it's 70 for the year bro. Not 70 a month. Where did you get that at?</p>
Thursday, 08 Oct 2015 4:38 PM
<p>This is such a funny story. He paid extra $70 *12 months = 840 then paid extra 600 = 1440 and claims saved 530 :) . Insurance scams at its best.</p>
Tuesday, 22 Sep 2015 1:15 AM
<p>Lori, you are so right! I'm an adult who has never had a cavity, but despite that, they say you can still eventually get them from wear and tear, so I'm always waiting for the shoe to drop. I went to a new dentist about 4 years ago and was told I had 4 cavities! After them telling me the costs, I nearly passed out. I basically curled up in a ball mentally, did nothing, and didn't go back to another dentist for a couple years. Well, guess what? I still don't have any cavities - never did have any.</p><p>Buyer beware! At the end of the day, people have to remember that dentists make money when your teeth go wrong, which makes a pretty interesting "catch 22", since they're also enlisted in keeping your teeth perfect. Try to keep that in mind when you hear news that sounds fishy. The dentist I respected the most over the years told me I had a "questionable spot" we'd keep an eye on, and then, next appointment, told me it was a false alarm. 5 STAR DENTIST.</p>
Monday, 14 Sep 2015 4:26 PM
<p>You can find all the dentists that participate in the Careington network here:</p><p><a href=";cuid=15643" rel="nofollow noopener" title=""></a></p>
Monday, 14 Sep 2015 9:01 AM
<p>Hi Marina! Thank god there are people like you writing articles on dental care in NYC. I live in NYC myself, and I think I may need a root canal procedure. I've heard of Careington from other sites, but I was really skeptical about it. Was it easy for you to find participating dentists from Careington?</p>
Friday, 31 Jul 2015 8:09 PM
<p>Dentist and doctors ảe like spider and bat</p>
Tuesday, 02 Jun 2015 8:59 AM
<p>Time and fees should be minuscule when it comes to permanent teeth. You only get one set. I have spent way more time, money, pain and embarrassment NOW than I would have on a simple second opinion which insurance would more than likely pay for. In fact, the side he drilled is the only side I have EVER had trouble with on my mouth since and it just goes on and on and on every few years. My sister said the same thing of the four he drilled on her. The rest are just teeth to me, no problems, they just need cleaned. At the time I was a ninth grader and my sister in sixth in a brand new town, new school. The dentist had a son in my class and another son a year older. His daughter was in my sister's class. All were very popular. My Dad wanted to sue the dentist but we begged him not to, he finally said he wouldn't. I regret that now, I'm an adult, but at the time my sister and I were at the age when popularity is EVERYTHING to a girl. I wonder how many other children's teeth he ruined, because we didn't attempt to stop him. :( I just beg people to always second guess a dentist, I just think it is worth it. I will add that later as an adult, I did have one dentist tell me I had a cavity several years ago in another tooth on the other side of my mouth. Without saying anything, I went to a different dentist (I learned my lesson). He didn't say anything about a cavity. It's been 17 years. That cavity apparently wasn't one either.</p>
Tuesday, 26 May 2015 2:49 PM
<p>Yikes, sounds like it could have been a case of malpractice in the making -- falsified diagnosis to operate on someone, possibly for the pure purpose of charging more.</p><p>A second opinion is always a good idea, but people tend to not deal with the trouble because of time and fees.</p>
Monday, 25 May 2015 6:46 AM
<p>Be sure to always get a second opinion if a dentist tells you your children need fillings. As a teen, we moved to a new town so I had a check up with a new dentist. He told me I had a cavity in all of my teeth and on all three sides and was going to have to have all my teeth drilled and filled and later pulled. He called my Mom at work and asked if he could go ahead with the work. She was with a client and not really "listening" as he spoke and said yes. After he drilled one entire side (about an hour later) she called back and said, "she just finished with her client and realized what he had said and that we needed a second opinion because I had never had problems with my teeth before. She asked him to stop working and to dismiss me. We went to two other dentists and I had no cavities. In fact I haven't had one since (this was around 30 yrs ago). He lied! Now as an adult on that one side that he drilled is where I constantly have problems. These teeth have broken, needed caps, crowns (you name it), because he drilled so deeply. It was clearly his goal to ensure they eventually break (and they did and are). In fact that is how I found your article. I'm online looking at dental plans because guess which side of my mouth is very achy right now with a super sore tooth and jaw? . One dentist years later asked if I had been in an accident bc my teeth were so nice with exception to that one side. I told myself if my child ever needed a filling, I'd get second and third opinions before I allowed anyone to touch him.</p>
Tuesday, 30 Dec 2014 9:30 AM
<p>Thank you, Captain Obvious. I think they were just trying to make a point about educating their children in dental health and causes or ways to prevent things like root canals. Please use common sense before posting irrelevant things, sweetie.</p>
Monday, 29 Dec 2014 5:36 PM
<p>Sweetie candy and sugar are not the only factors that cause tooth decay. Please do your research before posting irrelevant things.<br>thanks<br>Kia-dds</p>
Monday, 10 Mar 2014 7:13 PM
<p>This happened to me as well! I wish I would have read this before getting a root canal, which I feel I was pressured into. I could have managed with a crown my other dentist said :(. I had some other procedures done , which I really need and now am way over my head in debt. It's so frustrating not having any wiggle room, and having to look for a second job while holding a full time position.</p>
Sunday, 19 Jan 2014 10:40 PM
<p>I strongly advise against taking out a loan with Care Credit. If you haven't repaid your debt in full during the interest-free period, the company will charge you almost 30% interest on the entire amount of your loan: hundreds or thousands of dollars. Even if you devise a regular schedule of payments, other emergencies can pop up. If this happens and you're even a day late on your loan, you'll have to pay exorbitant fees.</p>
Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 6:22 PM
<p>Thank you for this! I am signing up for Careington today! There is no way I can afford $2500 for a root canal and crown. This will be very helpful!</p>
Tuesday, 05 Nov 2013 5:55 PM
<p>Through Careington. :)</p><p>It's same day activation, same day use.</p>
Tuesday, 05 Nov 2013 5:54 PM
<p>This seriously just saved my life! Good god. Two root canals $900 for root canal, $900 for crown. Split in half only $353 and $532 for crown. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!</p>
Monday, 28 Oct 2013 5:06 AM
<p>I had a crown and then needed a root canal a couple of years later on that very same tooth. I had root canal procedure done right through the crown follow with fillings. Don't change the temperature on this tooth as I did, crown crack right on top a few short weeks later. Need new crown now, I should know with 7 root canals and 9 crowns later</p>
Thursday, 05 Sep 2013 11:51 AM
<p>Very helpful advice. I am a 53 year old with dental insurance and even had a Flex spending account, but I used all of this at the beginning of the year and now need a root canal on the tooth they crowned. I too plan to use CareCredit. My advice, the older you get the more dental insurance you're going to need even if you do take good care of your teeth like I do and did. Things just happen! I'm going to pass your article on to my 20+ year olds!</p>
Sunday, 18 Dec 2011 11:40 PM
<p>Randy,</p><p>I appreciate the kind words. I seriously will never feed my children sugar or candy of any kind so they can avoid the nightmare of dealing with a dentist. It looks like you know what you are doing though!</p><p></p>
Sunday, 18 Dec 2011 1:20 AM
<p>That was a great article Marina, thank you for sharing your experience and information.  I have come to believe that most dentists are not on the up and up, I went to 4 different dentists for a comprehensive exam, x-rays and their recommended treatment plans and got 4 different reports and total costs from a low of 3500.00 to a high of 30,000.00 and inbetween.  It really does make me wonder how 4 different dentists can vary so much in treatment plans and costs.  Hmmm, at this rate I may be saving for the rest of my life.</p>

Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the offers appearing on this site are from advertisers from which this website receives compensation for being listed here. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). These offers do not represent all account options available.

Editorial Disclosure: This content is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank advertiser, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. This site may be compensated through the bank advertiser Affiliate Program.

User Generated Content Disclosure: These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.