Does Medicare Cover Root Canals and Other Dental Services?

Medicare Benefits Solutions

Dec 14, 2022

Original Medicare normally doesn’t provide coverage for routine dental services such as teeth cleanings and root canals. But if you need the procedure to treat an infected tooth and it’s deemed medically necessary, such as when you’re dealing with a major health issue, then Medicare may cover the cost.

Do You Need a Root Canal?

If you have an abscess (infection) around the root of your tooth or have teeth with severe decay, you may need a root canal. 

Top signs you may need a root canal:

  • tooth sensitivity especially with cold or hot drinks
  • tooth pain while chewing
  • facial swelling
  • tenderness of gums surrounding the infected tooth

A root canal is a treatment to repair and save your tooth, avoiding the need for extraction. The spread of bacteria in an untreated tooth infection can lead to erosion of the bone connecting your teeth to your jaw.

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What Dental Services Does Original Medicare Cover?

There may be oral health-related care that is covered by Original Medicare under specific circumstances: 

  • If you are injured and need to undergo jaw surgery, your care may be covered by Part A or Part B depending on where you have the procedure.
  • As an inpatient, you may need an oral exam to get you ready for renal transplant surgery or a heart valve replacement. 

Medicare may also cover a tooth extraction if needed to prepare for radiation on the jaw. 

What Dental Services are Covered by Medicare Supplement?

Medicare Supplement plans are designed to help cover some of the costs that Original Medicare does not, such as deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. While some supplemental policies do offer benefits not covered by Original Medicare like healthcare emergencies when traveling outside the U.S. and the first three pints of blood, Medigap policies do not offer dental benefits. 

Does Medicare Advantage Cover Root Canals?

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans can offer benefits that Original Medicare does not provide. Depending on where you live, you may find MA plans with hearing services, gym memberships, transportation, vision care and dental care. 

Comprehensive dental services can include:

  • Routine exams and cleanings
  • Tooth extractions 
  • Root canal therapy
  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Dentures 

TIP: If you are looking for a Medicare Advantage plan that offers dental coverage then try our plan finder. The handy tool can help you narrow down your options based on your needs and preferences – and help you find the plan that’s right for you.

What Should You Expect From a Root Canal?

A dentist who determines a root canal may be your best option will likely refer you to an endodontist, a specialist in pulp disorders and root canal treatment. The pulp is the tissue in your tooth that houses nerves and blood vessels. 

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), a typical root canal treatment is completed in one or two office visits with local anesthesia to minimize the pain. After taking out the infected nerve tissue, your dentist or endodontist will put in a temporary filling that will be later replaced with either a permanent filling or a crown. The ADA states that if you exercise proper care, the restored tooth should last a lifetime.    

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