Two months ago, I had a flare-up in a molar tooth, so I made a same-day appointment with a dentist that my co-worker recommended. The dentist said I need a root canal, but I cannot afford it. How long can I put it off before the tooth surprises me again?
Thank you for your inquiry. Although Dr. Lacy would need to examine your tooth and x-rays, we can explain some basics.
Delaying a Root Canal If You Cannot Afford It
If you cannot afford root canal treatment and decide to delay it, consider a few signs and symptoms that might help you identify the status of your tooth. But the descriptions below are not a substitute for dental care.
- Painful tooth – A painful tooth is a symptom of an active infection that is spreading. Without root canal treatment, the infection can spread into your jawbone, other teeth, and your bloodstream.
- Drainage or a gum pimple – Drainage in your mouth or a gum pimple near your tooth root is a sign of tooth abscess. Although it is not an emergency, you need treatment as soon as possible. Again, the infection can spread into your jawbone and chin and cause more problems.
- Painless tooth – If your tooth does not hurt at all, the pulp (tissue and nerves inside) died. But the infection can still eat away at your tooth roots and make it impossible for a dentist to save your tooth. If active tooth decay caused your condition, it would grow until it destroys your tooth.
Options When You Cannot Afford Root Canal Treatment
If you cannot afford root canal treatment but you want to save your tooth, here are some options:
- Ask about payment plans – Many dentists offer payment plans for treatment. For example, you can pay for treatment over several months.
- Ask about financing – CareCredit® is a health care credit card that offers low- or no-interest financing for qualifying applicants.
- –– If you do not have dental insurance, some dental offices offer a dental savings plan to help you save money on care.
What About Tooth Extraction?
If you cannot afford root canal treatment, tooth extraction should be the last resort. When you extract a tooth:
- Other teeth will begin to drift and disrupt your bite (the way your upper and lower teeth fit together)
- As your teeth move, they can create orthodontic issues
- Tooth replacement options are more expensive than root canal treatment
Look for an Affordable Dentist
Look for experienced dentists in your area who offer payment plans, financing, or a dental savings plan. You will be able to get root canal treatment and afford it by paying for care over time.
Miranda Lacy, DDS, a female dentist in Plano, TX, sponsors this post.