Most people have to undergo wisdom teeth removal at some point in their life. The evolution of our mouths have made them too small for wisdom teeth to fit, to the point where it’s often more of a hassle to keep them.
Since most dentists recommend getting wisdom teeth pulled, patients are often left worrying about the cost. Especially since not just one, but four teeth need to be pulled. This becomes even more of a concern for people without dental insurance.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed?
Wisdom teeth typically start growing in anywhere from the ages of 17-24. Typically, a dentist will see this at a checkup and advise on if and when they need to come out.
The main reason people need to get wisdom teeth taken out is because human mouths have grown to be too small to fit this last set of teeth. Without enough room to grow in correctly, they can crowd the other teeth, making them crooked, and pushing them out of alignment.
If the teeth are able to partially emerge through the gums, they can create a passageway for bacteria, making gum disease and oral infections more likely.
When it’s time for the wisdom teeth to come out, the dentist will usually refer the patient to an oral surgeon for the procedure.
The Cost of Wisdom Teeth Removal Without Insurance?
Getting wisdom teeth out without insurance can be expensive. The average cost of wisdom teeth removal without insurance ranges depending on the patient’s unique situation. It breaks down like this:
- Simple Extraction — $75-$200 per tooth or $300-$1000 total for all four
- Impacted Extraction — $225-$600 per tooth or $1000-$3000 total for all four
- Additional costs (panoramic x-ray of teeth, exam fees, sedation) — $50-$900
It’s important to note that these additional costs vary, and some dentists include them in the total cost. Also, many dentists or oral surgeons offer a discount (or “package deal”) for getting all four teeth extracted at once. It is a good idea to do some research to find a dentist who works with uninsured patients. Check with the dentist or oral surgeon to find out what is covered in the cost beforehand.
Does Dental Insurance Cover Wisdom Teeth Removal?
Yes! But the amount covered depends on the plan and how complicated the extraction is. A comprehensive dental plan will drastically reduce the amount paid out-of-pocket. Insurance will likely cover anywhere from 50% to 80% of the overall cost, but the patient has to make sure that the dentist or surgeon takes their insurance.
Although dental insurance is a great option, there are often annual limits on how much they pay out for all dental care (typically around $1500). One option is to split the procedure over two years to get more coverage.
Do I Really Need All of My Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Since getting not just one, but four, teeth removed is a significant investment, many patients might be tempted to have only one or two teeth pulled, or skip it altogether. Ignoring the early signs of discomfort or crowding might seem fine at first, but this can often cause more serious dental problems later on.
Here are some of the things that can happen if wisdom teeth aren’t removed when they should be:
- Sporadic or persistent pain near the back of the mouth
- Swollen, sensitive, or bleeding gums
- Persistent sinus issues such as sinus pain, headaches, pressure, or congestion
- Shifting teeth
- Repeated cysts, infections, or cavities
- Bad breath
- Earaches or headaches, radiating from jaw pain
- Stiffness, pain, or swelling in the jaw
Although patients always have a choice to keep some of their wisdom teeth, it is best to follow the dentist’s advice. If one tooth is painful or infected, they will typically recommend that all four teeth be extracted.
Even if wisdom teeth haven’t emerged (called impacted wisdom teeth), some dentists recommend removing them anyway. This involves making an incision in the gum and sometimes breaking the tooth to remove it. Oftentimes, dentists believe removing wisdom teeth at a younger age, even if they are impacted, is better. The roots and bones are not fully formed, so they are more easily removed and recovery is faster. This is the reason some young adults have wisdom teeth extracted before they start causing problems.
What Are the Risks of Wisdom Teeth Removal?
The thought of tooth extraction can be scary, but rest assured jhat the procedure is routine and risks are minimal. Some of the things that can be expected include the following:
- Pain and swelling in the gums
- Difficulty opening jaw
- Light to moderate bleeding for 24 hours
- Some general discomfort
Patients generally recover from wisdom teeth extraction within three to four days. However, the wound may not heal for a couple months, so there is still a chance of infection. The dentist will give guidance on how to care for the mouth after wisdom teeth are pulled.
There are some greater risks involved with wisdom teeth extraction, but they are not common. They include:
- Infection from bacteria or trapped food particles
- Dry socket, a condition that occurs when a blood clot does not form after an adult tooth is removed, causing exposure of the bone and nerves
- Damage to nearby teeth, nerves, jawbone, or sinuses
The risk of serious problems are extremely rare. Most people recover quickly from wisdom teeth removal with minimal discomfort.
How Can I Save on the Cost of Wisdom Teeth Removal?
It is normal to feel overwhelmed with the costs associated with wisdom teeth extraction, there are other ways to save, even for those without dental insurance.
Discount dental plans are one option. With benefits like discounts on procedures, one low annual fee, and no approvals or applications required, these plans can be a great resource for many people. Patients can save around 20% to 50% on dental costs, so although it is not insurance, it brings similar savings. There are several discount dental plans available, so do some research on which one would be best—and always read the fine print to fully understand the terms.
Another option to save money on wisdom teeth removal is to set up a payment plan. Some dentists and oral surgeons allow payments over time so there is not such a large upfront cost. In these cases, the patient pays the dentist or surgeon directly rather than going through insurance.
The Cost is Worth It
Although the cost of getting wisdom teeth pulled is significant, taking care of teeth and gums is an important part of overall health. That is why, in most cases, paying to get wisdom teeth out ends up being worth it. Once the wisdom teeth are removed, so is the worry associated with the risks and costs.
If you need to find a dentist for wisdom teeth removal or any dental issue, use our online tool. We will help you set up an appointment with a qualified professional in your area.