A wisdom tooth extraction costs between $200 to $1,100 per tooth. Prices can vary wildly depending on the particulars of each case, the type of anesthesia used, the age of the patient, and the state you live in. Impacted wisdom teeth cost more to remove than erupted teeth, for example. Your dental insurance should be able to help you cover some of the wisdom teeth removal cost, but be prepared to pay a percentage of those expenses yourself.
Your wisdom teeth — also known as your third molars — are the last teeth to grow into your mouth. If they breach the gums as they should and are aligned properly, you should never have an issue with your wisdom teeth. The problem is, that’s rarely the situation for most people.
The fact is, many people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth, which can cause a lot of oral health problems if it’s not taken care of. In many cases, people will just go ahead and have all four wisdom teeth removed at once. It’s a common procedure, but it’s pricey. Today we’ll take a look at what wisdom tooth removal costs include and how to go about paying for the surgery.
Why is wisdom teeth removal necessary?
Wisdom teeth get their name because they usually start to emerge in your mouth at a more mature age than the rest of your adult teeth. Normally, they start to make an appearance between the ages of 17 and 21, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).
The problem is that they often come up crooked or fail to come up at all, causing pain and other oral health problems. If they don’t come up at all, meaning they’re impacted, you can experience all kinds of issues in addition to pain, such as cysts or tumors and infections.
If the wisdom tooth or teeth are partially erupted, that can allow for bacteria to grow around the teeth or under the gums. This can make the area difficult to floss or clean, leading to cavities or gum disease. If they come in crooked, it can also be painful to boot.
Finally, even if the teeth are fully erupted from the gums, if your mouth is too small, the wisdom teeth can crowd or damage your other teeth, which also dictates the need for removal. The bottom line is, although it isn’t cheap, wisdom teeth removal is necessary in most cases.
How do you know if you need wisdom tooth removal?
There are four basic situations where you’ll need to have a wisdom tooth extraction, and they are listed in order of severity from least to worst. Obviously, the less severe complications will cost you less.
- Erupted or partial eruption of the wisdom tooth. Eruption of the wisdom teeth means that the teeth have broken through the gum tissue. However, they might be crooked or there simply isn’t enough space in your mouth, causing discomfort.
- Impacted wisdom teeth under the gum. This is when the teeth are trapped underneath the soft gum tissue and haven’t been able to break through — essentially, they’re trapped.
- Impacted partially under bone. In this case, the wisdom teeth are trapped under the gums as well as being partially obstructed by the jawbone.
- Impacted fully under jawbone. This is the worst-case scenario for wisdom tooth extraction. In this scenario, the tooth or teeth are completely trapped under the jawbone and your oral surgeon will need to take more drastic measures to remove the teeth.
How much does wisdom teeth removal cost?
As mentioned, the cost of wisdom teeth removal isn’t cheap, but it will vary quite a lot depending on the condition of your teeth and/or how many wisdom teeth you need to have extracted.
Obviously, it’s going to cost a lot less for a single tooth extraction with local anesthesia than if you need to have all four wisdom teeth removed with the use of IV sedation or general anesthesia. In addition, the region of the country you live in will also impact the cost of wisdom teeth removal.
In general, expect to pay between $200 to $500 for a simple extraction process of an erupted tooth, and $250 to $700 for a tooth impacted under the gum only. If the tooth is impacted under both gum and bone, you might pay between $300 and $800. A tooth stuck completely under the bone could cost you anywhere from $400 to $1,000 or more, depending on how deeply embedded it is and if there are further complications.
Keep in mind that part of the wisdom tooth expense includes your anesthetic. For a single, simple extraction, which is a pretty quick process, you’ll likely only get local anesthesia. Removal cost with general anesthesia or other sedation is more expensive but is usually recommended for lengthier, more complicated treatment.
Also be sure to ask if your initial consultation, X-rays, and follow-up visits are included in the price you’re quoted. If not, you could be looking at about $100 to $200 in X-rays and about $100 per visit both before and after the surgery.
As part of your routine visits, your dental office should be monitoring your incoming wisdom teeth and advising you about your particular wisdom teeth removal needs. This way you can start to figure out a closer idea of what the total cost will come to.
Does dental insurance cover the wisdom teeth removal cost?
Most dental insurance plans cover wisdom teeth removal, but they likely won’t pay for the entire procedure. Expect to pay at least some of those costs out-of-pocket. Plans vary, so talk to your insurance provider to determine exactly how much you’ll be on the hook for.
Plus, if you don’t have insurance right now, you can sign up for a new plan. There may be a waiting period of six to 12 months, but if you or your loved one doesn’t need surgery right away, this can give you time to plan ahead.
Do Medicaid or Medicare pay for wisdom tooth extraction?
State Medicaid programs are required to provide some dental coverage for children and young adults under 21, but that doesn’t necessarily include wisdom teeth removal costs. To find out for sure, contact your local Medicaid office to see if this procedure is covered by Medicaid in your state.
Medicaid is not required to provide any dental coverage to adults over 21. However, if there is a dental emergency that makes wisdom tooth removal a medical necessity, it may be covered under your state’s plan.
Medicare doesn’t cover most dental care, including wisdom tooth extraction, but Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) will pay for certain dental services that you get when you’re in a hospital. For example, if you need emergency inpatient hospital care because of your teeth, Part A can help pay for the hospital stay even though it doesn’t actually cover dental care.
Other ways to pay for wisdom tooth removal
Whether you have insurance or not, there are other ways to lower the expense of oral surgery and help to cover the costs.
- Ask about package deals. Oftentimes you can get a better deal per tooth by having them all taken out at once. As a single procedure, this will lower the overall costs of anesthesia and other materials needed for the surgery.
- In-house payment plan. Many oral surgeons will offer monthly payment plans to patients in need. This way you can spread out the cost of the surgery over time, lessening your immediate out-of-pocket expenses.
- Health savings accounts. If you have a flexible spending arrangement (FSA) or a health savings account (HSA), you should be able to use some of this money to help cover wisdom tooth surgery.
- Dental schools. If you have a nearby dental school in your area, and they need test subjects, you may be able to save significantly on wisdom tooth extraction. You might be kind of a guinea pig, but the oral surgeon-in-training that works on you will likely be supervised by a board-certified dentist, so the procedure should be perfectly safe.
- Savings. If you have some money tucked away in an emergency fund, spending it on wisdom teeth removal is definitely a worthwhile expenditure.
- Personal loan. Check with your bank about taking out a small personal loan to cover your healthcare costs for oral surgery. Or better yet, use this comparison tool to check out the best interest rates from multiple online lenders.
If none of these suggestions work for you, you can also pay for your oral surgery using a credit card. Most dental offices and oral surgeries will accept major credit cards for payment, so this could be an option as well. If possible, try to apply for one with a 0% introductory rate, so you can take a year or two to pay off the balance before incurring high-interest charges.
How long does wisdom teeth removal recovery take?
You should be able to resume normal activities including work or school after just a few days. However, if your work is particularly strenuous or you’re involved in aggressive sports, you may need a few more days of rest before going about your normal life.
What happens if you don’t get your wisdom teeth removed?
You may not have a choice if they’re impacted, because impacted teeth can cause severe dental issues. But even if they aren’t causing you tooth pain, you could experience problems down the road.
Also, keep in mind that dental treatments for wisdom teeth will generally be more painful and expensive as you age. This is why oral surgeons recommend having it done when you’re a teen or young adult. As you get older, your bone density increases and the roots become more fully formed. This results in a late wisdom tooth extraction that becomes more expensive and takes longer to heal.
Is extracting wisdom teeth worth it?
The most significant benefit of wisdom teeth extraction is that it reduces your risk for future oral health problems. These issues could include gum disease, tooth decay, damage to adjacent teeth, bone loss, and jaw damage.
Plus, if you already have pain because of your wisdom teeth, then having them removed will alleviate that discomfort right away.
When can I start eating food after a wisdom tooth extraction?
You can eat food on the same day as your procedure, but you’ll want to stick to soft foods such as soups, yogurt, pudding, and pasta. Avoid anything crunchy or spicy for a few days, as those foods can irritate the area.
Also, avoid smoking or using straws — the suction motion can dislodge the blood clots in the cavities causing dry socket, which is painful and will require further treatment from your dental office.
- The cost of wisdom teeth removal is varied and depends a lot on your particular circumstances, such as having an impacted wisdom tooth versus an erupted tooth.
- If an incoming wisdom tooth is coming in crooked, or failing to breach the gums, you will almost definitely need to have it extracted.
- To lower the cost of a wisdom tooth extraction, opt for local anesthesia rather than general anesthesia or other sedation.
- Most oral surgeons recommend having all four wisdom teeth removed at once to avoid problems down the road. Fortunately, this strategy can also save you money.
- Talk to your insurance providers and oral surgeon about how best to pay for your wisdom teeth removal.