Third molars, or wisdom teeth, usually make their appearance between late teenage years and early twenties. These teeth are the most prone to complications, which is why they are commonly removed, even if they aren’t causing problems yet.
Wisdom teeth extraction is also recommended when you are younger because there is higher risk later in life. Your teeth fuse to your bone over time, and the older you are, the harder the procedure will be.
The cost of wisdom teeth removal varies based on a number of variables, including
- Experience of the dentist or oral surgeon
- Complexity of the procedure
If you live in a small town with a small population, the cost is usually lower. Costs tend to be higher in large cities with large populations, especially on the east or west coast.
Experience of your dentist or oral surgeon will also play a role. More experienced dentists and oral surgeons tend to charge more than the less experienced. Oral surgeons are usually more costly than dentists.
If your wisdom teeth are impacted, the procedure for removal is more complex. Extra complexity means extra cost. Generally these costs are paid per tooth. If your wisdom teeth are not impacted, you will only have to pay the cost for a normal tooth extraction, usually 100 to 300 dollars per tooth.
There are three kinds of wisdom tooth impaction:
- Soft tissue impaction
- Partial bony impaction
- Fully bony impaction
The cost per tooth for impacted wisdom teeth can range from 300 to 650 dollars per tooth, depending on how it is impacted. The type of impaction influences the complexity of your wisdom tooth removal. Oral surgeons usually remove impacted teeth.
If you have a soft tissue impaction, your wisdom tooth is still partially under your gum. The tooth only partially came in, or erupted. In this case, your oral surgeon will need to cut your gums to get to the wisdom tooth. The tooth is removed, and your gums are stitched back together.
Slightly more complex are removal of teeth that have a partial bony impaction. If this is the situation, part of the crown of your wisdom tooth is encased in your jawbone. The crown is the part that is supposed to protrude above your gum line. In this procedure, some of your bone must be removed around the tooth in order to extract it.
Fully bony impaction, or completely bony impaction, is when your wisdom tooth is completely encased in your jawbone. For this procedure, your oral surgeon must remove some of the bone tissue overlying the tooth. The wisdom tooth is often sectioned, or broken into pieces, and removed bit by bit. Removing this type of impacted tooth is usually the most expensive because it is the most complex procedure.
Other costs to consider are those for x-rays, anesthesia, consultation, and medication after the surgery.
Panoramic x-rays are required before wisdom teeth removal. These x-rays allow your dentist or oral surgeon to determine the procedure, and give you an approximate cost per tooth. Cone beam CT scans are sometimes required as well, depending on your dentist or oral surgeon. Panoramic x-rays cost between 100 and 200 dollars, while cone beam CT scans usually run between 250 and 400 dollars.
Wisdom teeth removal requires anesthesia. Cost of anesthesia depends on what kind of anesthesia is administered. Intravenous (IV) sedation is usually more expensive than nitrous oxide. IV anesthesia can cost between 250 and 800 dollars. Nitrous oxide costs 40 to 75 dollars.
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, is used commonly in dental procedures. While it has a relaxing effect, it does not put you to sleep. If you would rather be unconscious for the procedure, IV anesthesia might be a better option. Of course, your dentist or oral surgeon can advise you also.
While local anesthesia (Novocain) is usually injected into your gums by your wisdom teeth, the cost is generally included in the price per tooth.
Your dentist or oral surgeon will usually have you come in for a consultation prior to your wisdom teeth extraction. At this consultation, your dentist or oral surgeon should be able to give you a quote for the procedure. Unless the consult is the day of your wisdom teeth removal, there is a fee that can cost somewhere from 95 to 150 dollars.
Once you have had your wisdom teeth extracted, you will also have to pay for pain medication prescribed by your dentist or oral surgeon. These pain relievers usually run 10 to 20 dollars.
Risks of Not Getting Your Wisdom Teeth Removed
After all this talk of cost, it might be tempting to forego the surgical procedure. There are a few things to consider before deciding against wisdom teeth removal.
Partially erupted wisdom teeth make you more prone to infection. The gum line around partially erupted wisdom teeth forms a small opening ideal for bacteria to get trapped in. Infection can lead to jaw stiffness, pain, swelling, and general illness.
Not getting your wisdom teeth extracted can result in crowded teeth or shifting in surrounding teeth. This is especially a concern if you paid for braces as an adolescent. Growing wisdom teeth could void the progress made by braces.
Shifting teeth can cause bit irregularities, which can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). This disorder often leads to significant pain and impairment.
Choosing not to get your wisdom teeth removed can also lead to bone loss and expansion of the jaw.
Without extraction, wisdom teeth can interrupt normal sinus function, which can cause sinus congestion and headaches.
Wisdom teeth often cause pain in the jaw and surrounding teeth. Removing your wisdom teeth will eliminate this problem.
If you haven’t had your wisdom teeth removed, you might want to consider it. While the costs seem high, if you have dental insurance the price with greatly decrease, and you will avoid potential health problems. You can always call several dentists and oral surgeons to see what they might charge for the procedure. You can also compare prices online.
While cost is an important factor, it is also important to choose a dentist or oral surgeon you feel you can trust. Wisdom tooth extraction is a surgical procedure and should be treated with caution.