When it comes to getting a dental procedure, concerns about the price are often just as troubling as whether or not it will hurt—and possibly even more so. Take the cost of pulling a tooth, for example.
Understanding the factors that go into the cost of tooth extraction will give a patient the ability to make informed decisions about this necessary procedure.
Reasons to Pull a Tooth
Tooth extractions are not typically something that can wait. Dentists do everything they can to save teeth, so if they recommend pulling one, there is a good reason. Many times, the patient is in pain, or the extraction is just one step in a more extensive treatment plan.
Here are common situations when pulling a tooth is necessary:
- Severe decay. A cavity can take up most of a tooth, not leaving enough healthy tissue to support a filling or a root canal procedure and a crown.
- Widespread infection. A tooth with a large abscess might be beyond repair, spreading infection to other teeth and the gums. The tooth will die if left alone.
- Broken teeth. A tooth might be too damaged to repair. Extraction often makes the most sense, especially if it is broken off at the gum line or the root is exposed.
- Crowding. This is most common when there is no room for wisdom teeth to emerge. Wisdom tooth extraction is necessary for many in their late teens and early twenties.
- Impacted teeth. Sometimes teeth fail to erupt properly and become trapped in the jaw bone beneath the surface. This can happen anywhere in the mouth but is most common with wisdom teeth.
- In preparation for cosmetic or reconstructive dentistry. Dental implants, dentures, and even braces might require a tooth extraction as a first step.
Regardless of the reasons for a tooth extraction, the procedure is usually unavoidable and sometimes an emergency. The cost can help preserve the patient’s overall dental health, which could save money by avoiding future dental work.
The Average Cost of Tooth Extraction
The cost of pulling a tooth varies for a few reasons. The most important variable is whether it is a simple extraction, or if surgery is necessary. We’ll discuss the difference in the next section.
The price of a simple extraction ranges from about $75 to $200 per tooth. A surgical extraction will be between $300 and $2000. If the patient has dental insurance, part of the cost might be covered.
One factor that determines the cost is the region of the country. Large cities tend to have higher prices on everything, and dentists there are likely to charge more. Smaller communities are usually more affordable. And even within one zip code, there might be high-end “boutique” style dental practices as well as more budget-friendly no-frills offices.
Patients who need only a local anesthetic can expect to pay less than those needing intravenous or general anesthesia. And a scheduled appointment can be less than an emergency procedure.
Simple vs. Surgical Procedures for Tooth Extraction
Visible teeth can usually be removed by a regular dentist with a simple extraction. The dentist starts by giving the patient a local anesthetic such as novocaine to numb the area. Using a tool known as an elevator (sometimes called a luxator), they first loosen the tooth from the jawbone, then remove it with forceps.
Surgical extraction is necessary if the tooth is impacted, broken beneath the gum line, or otherwise more complicated. An oral or maxillofacial surgeon will usually handle these procedures instead of a regular dentist.
In addition to local anesthetic, the patient might receive intravenous anesthesia to calm them or be sedated with general anesthesia. The surgeon makes an incision in the gum to reach the tooth. In some cases, they must remove a portion of the bone or break the tooth and remove it piece by piece.
The difference in cost between a simple and a surgical extraction is based on a number of factors. A dental surgeon specializes in this type of procedure and has specific experience and credentials. The complexity of a surgical extraction also means it takes longer and requires different equipment and additional supplies like anesthesia.
Additional Costs to Budget
When consulting with a dentist about the cost to pull teeth at their practice, it is important to ask what is included. An initial dental exam, x-rays, and follow-up appointments might be extra. And if a patient requests sedation because they are extremely anxious, though it is not necessary, there will likely be an additional fee. Other possible expenses might be prescription antibiotics to prevent infection or over-the-counter supplies like gauze or pain medication.
Replacing missing teeth once they are pulled can be very important for a patient’s future dental health and overall well-being. Dental implants or dental plates are recommended but can be a significant expense. It is a good idea to discuss a long-term plan with the dentist about how best to restore the teeth and the associated costs.
Ways to Reduce the Cost of Pulling a Tooth
Patients should not delay pulling a tooth that is severely damaged or decayed. But if the cost is a concern and you do not have insurance, there are some ways to minimize the financial impact.
- Ask if an oral surgeon is really necessary, or if the dentist can do a simple extraction instead.
- Search your nearby dentists who charge less. Our database can help you find qualified professionals in your area.
- Find out if you can pay in installments.
- Consider a dental credit card that is used exclusively for dental services.
- Search for coupons or special pricing for certain groups. For example, some dentists might offer deals for students, military personnel, or first responders.
- Lower-cost treatment is often available at dental schools. Dentists-in-training are well-supervised and can gain valuable experience.
Dentists do not recommend having a tooth pulled unless it is absolutely necessary. Everyone’s situation is unique and the cost will vary depending on a number of factors. Ask your dentist what type of extraction they recommend and what is included in the price. Together you can come up with a plan that fits your budget, as well as the next steps for replacing your missing tooth after the procedure.