The Cost of Wisdom Teeth Removal: A Comprehensive Guide

June 30, 2023
4727 Views

Your third set of molars, commonly known as wisdom teeth, are the final teeth to emerge in your mouth. When these teeth are healthy and properly aligned, they typically do not require special attention.

However, despite their natural state, approximately 10 million wisdom teeth are removed annually in the United States. This is often due to a lack of space in the mouth. Consequently, they are more prone to becoming impacted, meaning they get stuck beneath the gumline.

Wisdom teeth can create various issues, including crowding or misalignment of other teeth, damage to neighboring teeth, development of mouth cysts that can harm the jaw, and the occurrence of inflammation and cavities.

Nevertheless, just because wisdom tooth extraction is a common practice does not mean it comes at a low cost. The expenses associated with wisdom teeth removal can quickly accumulate, especially in cases where the teeth are impacted.

What is the Cost of Wisdom Teeth Removal Without Insurance?

For simple extractions of fully erupted teeth, the cost typically ranges between $200 and $700 per tooth, with an average of $300 approx. per tooth.

On the other hand, removing impacted teeth can cost between $250 and $1,100 per tooth, with an average range of $350 to $550 approx. The lower end of the price scale applies to impacted teeth located within the gums, while the higher end pertains to teeth that are stuck in the jawbone.

What Factors Influence the Cost of Wisdom Teeth Removal?

The out-of-pocket expenses for wisdom teeth removal depend on various factors, including:

1 Condition of the tooth:

Erupted teeth, which have fully emerged from the gums, are easier to remove as dentists or oral surgeons have better access.

Impacted teeth, which are partially or completely trapped under the gum or in the jawbone, require more complex procedures. The surgeon may administer sedation and make incisions in the gum tissue to access the tooth. Extracting impacted teeth demands additional resources, time, and expertise, resulting in higher costs.

2 Number of teeth requiring extraction:

If only one wisdom tooth is causing issues, the cost will be lower compared to removing all four. Your dentist will determine which teeth need to be extracted and which ones are optional.

3 Type of anesthesia:

Local anesthesia is commonly used during the procedure to numb the area around the affected teeth. The cost of extraction usually includes this anesthesia, without any additional charges.

Sedation options such as medications, IV lines, or masks (e.g., nitrous oxide) are also available. Sedation helps patients remain calm and relaxed during the surgery, often used in combination with local anesthesia.

If multiple impacted wisdom teeth are being removed, the dentist may opt for general anesthesia to keep you asleep. This involves IV medication and may incur additional costs.

4 Age of the patient:

Wisdom tooth removal tends to be more expensive for older individuals due to denser bones, which can complicate the surgery. The complexity of the procedure correlates with higher costs. Younger individuals, particularly teenagers and young adults, have softer bones in their mouths, making the surgery easier and less costly.

5 Geographic location:

Wisdom tooth removal expenses are generally higher in large cities compared to other areas. You can estimate the approximate cost in your region by consulting Delta Dental’s cost estimator tool.

Does Insurance Cover the Entire Cost of Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Dental insurance typically does not cover the full cost of wisdom tooth extraction. In most cases, you will be responsible for a percentage of the bill, while the insurance company covers the remainder.

The amount you pay depends on the specific details of your dental insurance policy. For instance, if your plan has 100/80/50 terms, preventive care is fully covered, basic procedures are covered at 80%, and major procedures at 50%.

However, your share of the cost may vary. If your wisdom teeth have fully erupted, you might be responsible for 20% of the cost. In contrast, if the teeth are impacted, the procedure is often classified as a major one, requiring you to pay half of the bill.

Additionally, most dental insurance plans have an annual maximum limit. If you are having all four teeth removed and the cost exceeds the limit, you will be responsible for paying any amount above the maximum coverage.

Medicaid generally covers wisdom teeth extraction for children and teenagers, while a few states extend this coverage to qualifying adults.

What Can You Expect to Pay Out of Pocket for Wisdom Teeth Removal?

Without dental insurance, you will be responsible for the entire bill. This cost includes the tooth extraction and additional expenses, such as:

  • Initial examination: Prior to the oral surgeon removing your teeth, an examination and X-rays are usually required. The examination can cost around $100, while X-rays may range from $100 to $250.
  • Anesthesia: Local anesthesia is commonly used, and its cost is typically included in the overall extraction fee. However, sedatives can incur additional costs, ranging from $50 to $200 per hour or per 15-minute interval. General anesthesia may start at $250 initially, with additional 15-minute intervals priced at $200 each.
  • Pain medication: Dentists often recommend alternating between over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol and ibuprofen, which are relatively inexpensive and may already be available at home. For individuals experiencing more significant pain, stronger prescription medications may be required, such as generic oxycodone. It is important to note that dental insurance usually does not cover prescription medications, but medical insurance might.
  • Follow-up visits: If these visits are not included in the surgery cost, you will have to pay separately for them.

Potential Complications that May Incur Extra Costs

  • Operculectomy: This procedure involves the complete removal of gum tissue when the wisdom tooth is buried beneath both the gum and bone. It can add $50 to $300 per tooth to the overall surgery cost.
  • Dry socket: This is a common complication where the blood clot in the socket dislodges early. Treatment usually involves returning to the dentist, who applies a special zinc oxide paste costing the provider $50 or less.
  • Infection: If the wisdom tooth was infected, antibiotics like amoxicillin or clindamycin may be prescribed.

How Can You Reduce the Cost of Wisdom Tooth Removal?

The expenses associated with wisdom tooth removal can be financially burdensome. However, there are several approaches to lower the price:

  • Inquire about package deals for removing all four wisdom teeth simultaneously.
  • Discuss the possibility of using local anesthesia instead of general anesthesia, if your dentist agrees.
  • Locate a nearby dental school where you can receive high-quality dental services at a lower cost.
  • Consider joining a discount dental program, which can help decrease expenses. Consult your dentist for recommendations.
  • Choose a dentist who bills you based on the amount of anesthesia used rather than billing the maximum allowed by your insurance.

Summing Up

The cost of wisdom tooth removal ranges from $200 to $1,100 approx. per tooth, with impacted teeth incurring higher expenses. Despite the potential cost, it is important not to delay the procedure if advised by your dentist at Perio Health, as the surgery becomes more complex and expensive with age. Contact us at (713) 783-5442 to ensure that the wisdom tooth removal procedure goes according to plan.

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