Root Canal

Your Guide to Top-Quality, Affordable Dentistry

A root canal can save a badly inflamed or infected tooth. The procedure involves cleaning and shaping the inside of the canal (a channel inside the root of a tooth), and then filling and sealing the space. As a follow-up, some patients have the tooth “capped” or “crowned” for added stability and strength.

Why It Works for Medical Tourism | Planning Ahead | Accreditation and Certification | Dental Tourism Do's and Don'ts

Teeth that are severely decayed, accidentally injured, cracked, or chipped may be good candidates for root canal work. Root canals may be performed by dentists, but most are handled by endodontists, who specialize in diagnosing and treating oral and facial pain, as well problems that arise inside of teeth. A root canal is less expensive (usually) than an implant, but more costly than an extraction. A root canal saves your natural tooth and preserves both your smile and your bite. The procedure has a reputation for being painful, but the truth is, in the hands of a skilled endodontist, a root canal is virtually painless.

Why It Works for Medical Tourism

Traveling for a root canal may not be possible. Root canal patients often lack the time needed to plan a trip and seek out a competent overseas endodontist because they are suffering from extreme sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness of teeth to touch and chewing, or facial or oral swelling. If, however, your root canal is an elective procedure and you have time to plan, you may enjoy significant savings if you have your root canal done while traveling in another country.

The average cost of a root canal in the US is US$900. You’ll pay US$250 to US$400 in Costa Rica, around US$225 in India, US$500 in Mexico, and US$250 to US$350 in Thailand. You probably won’t travel only to have a root canal done, but you may choose to have one if you are traveling for other reasons.

Planning Ahead

When shopping for savings on root canals, understand that a tooth may have as many as four canals; the cost and time needed for the procedure rise along with that number.

Accreditation and Certification

Membership in a professional association is an important indicator of any health professional’s expertise. Endodontists have professional societies all over the world that provide their members with opportunities for continuing education, research, accreditation, and networking. International membership in the American Association of Endodontics is available to a practicing endodontist in a country outside of the United States who has successfully completed the requirements defined by their government or recognized endodontic specialty association.

Global patients should ask about an endodontist’s membership and professional development activities. Some associations of interest to medical travelers seeking root canal work include

  • Asian-Pacific Endodontic Confederation
  • Asociacion Española de Endodoncia
  • Asociacion Mexicana de Endodoncia
  • Endodontic Society of Thailand
  • European Society of Endodontology
  • Hong Kong Endodontic Society
  • Indian Endodontic Society
  • Korean Academy of Endodontics

Dental Tourism Do's and Don'ts

  • Do make sure you check and understand the specifics of your dental insurance plan, if you have one. Some plans cover full or partial costs for root canals. Find out how your coverage is affected if you travel for dental care.
  • Do ask for a cost estimate in writing. Although the estimate may change once the dentist is able to review your needs in person, it is important to have an agreed upon point of departure.
  • Dentistry can be painful, especially if you compress a lot of work into a short period of time. If you are highly sensitive to pain, do discuss pain management with your dentists—both at home and out-of-country.
  • Do ask if all your work can be done in one trip; your savings decline if you have to travel twice.
  • Do ask about compatibility of any parts or materials used. Standard dental practices, supplies, and equipment vary among countries. Incompatibilities can create problems for follow-up care at home.
  • Do remember to request x-rays, estimates, test results, and other documentation to share with your at-home dentist so you don’t have to pay for more later. Most will supply you x-rays in digital format. Ask for jpg files.
  • Do ask for patient references. A successful practice should be more than happy to share positive outcomes.
  • Don’t fall for showy websites. Find out about your clinic’s good standing and accreditation, as well as your dentist’s training, credentials, board certification, and experience. Root canal work requires considerable expertise. Make sure your dentist has plenty.
  • Last updated on 16 March 2014