Wisdom teeth have a bad reputation. They’re prone to problems, and removing them is often considered a painful procedure. Fortunately, modern dental techniques have made removal easier and less painful than ever before. So you won’t experience too much pain in your mouth, but you also want to avoid pain in the wallet.
If you have one or more wisdom teeth that need removal, you’re probably wondering about the potential costs. Today, we’ll take a look at wisdom teeth removal costs in the US, including what factors can raise or lower the amount you need to pay.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Cost
Any qualified dentist can safely handle the procedure, but the provider you choose can affect costs and type of care. A simple extraction of a wisdom tooth typically costs around $100-$300. However, this price will increase substantially if the tooth is impacted as the procedure is more complex and time-consuming – expect to pay anywhere from $350 to $700 per tooth in this case. The specifics of your treatment plan will affect the price too, and complications can drive the cost up further to as much as $1000 per tooth.
It’s always a good idea to shop around to find the best price – some dentists may offer a discount for removing all four wisdom teeth at once. Also, be sure to check with your insurance provider, as many plans will cover at least some of the costs of wisdom tooth removal.
Why Do You Need to Remove a Wisdom Tooth?
Wisdom teeth don’t always need removal. For some people, their wisdom teeth erupt correctly and don’t negatively impact their overall dental health. However, that’s not the case for everyone. Dentists typically recommend removing wisdom teeth if they’re currently causing health problems or are likely to cause problems in the future.
Here’s a rundown of common reasons why your wisdom teeth might need extraction:
Infection and Decay
Infection develops when bacteria reach the inner pulp of your tooth. Unfortunately, because wisdom teeth are more difficult to clean compared to the rest of your teeth, they’re more prone to infection.
However, removal is usually the last resort. As long as the infection is discovered early, the problem is often treatable with a filling, root canal, or other procedure.
Note that decay spreads from a tooth to its neighbors. If treatment can’t control decay in one tooth, extraction is often the best way to prevent additional problems.
Many people don’t have room in their mouth for wisdom teeth. When they erupt through the gum line, they end up pushing existing teeth out of place and causing other problems.
There are two types of wisdom tooth impaction:
- Full impaction – The tooth can’t emerge correctly at all and is completely covered by the gums
- Partial impaction – Only a portion of the tooth has broken through the gumline
Impacted wisdom teeth are often quite painful. Furthermore, if left untreated, they can alter the placement of surrounding teeth.
Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease. Left untreated, it erodes soft tissue and gums, which results in loose teeth or teeth that simply fall out.
If periodontitis is discovered early, a deep cleaning process can often repair existing damage and prevent future tooth loss. However, if the tooth is already loose, removal is usually the healthier alternative, as loose teeth are more susceptible to disease.
In some cases, wisdom tooth removal is necessary to create space for orthodontics or other teeth-straightening methods. While this isn’t usually an issue for teenagers, it can be a concern for adults, even if their wisdom teeth have emerged correctly.
When Should You See a Dentist?
Ideally, you want to prevent wisdom tooth problems before they occur. Unfortunately, you can’t see wisdom teeth until they emerge. So regular dental checkups are the best way to avoid potential issues.
Remember, wisdom teeth typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. It’s best to visit your dentist every six months during those years. He or she will typically x-ray your mouth and jaw to determine the position of your wisdom teeth.
Additionally, you’ll want to visit your dentist if you experience unexplained jaw or face pain. In some cases, the pain might localize towards the back of your mouth, but wisdom teeth can also cause pain throughout the side of your face or neck.
Alternatives to Wisdom Tooth Removal
As discussed above, wisdom tooth removal is usually the last resort. In many cases, simple treatments can correct the problem. Here are the most common alternatives to wisdom tooth removal:
If you have an infected wisdom tooth, removal isn’t always necessary. In many cases, a root canal can treat the infection while leaving the tooth in place.
With a root canal, the dentist makes a small hole in the tooth enamel to reach the inner pulp chamber. He uses a special tool to extract all of the infected pulp, which is replaced by a gum-like dental substance. The hole is then resealed.
Root canals aren’t nearly as painful as their reputation often suggests. Plus, they stop the spread of disease from the infected tooth to its neighbors and let you retain your original smile.
A coronectomy is a procedure where the crown of your tooth is removed and replaced with an artificial component. However, the roots are left in place. It’s often preferred to complete removal because it has a decreased risk of nerve damage.
The Wisdom Tooth Removal Process
When alternative procedures aren’t suitable, extraction is necessary. Fortunately, the process is usually relatively simple and straightforward.
In most cases, you’ll get a local anesthetic to numb the pain. You might also get a dental sedative, which won’t render you wholly unconscious but will help you to stay relaxed and comfortable during the procedure.
If the wisdom tooth has emerged completely, your dentist can use special tools to loosen the muscle fibers that hold it in place. This type of removal is typically quick and easy.
However, most removals involve impacted teeth that have either partially emerged or remain entirely below the gumline. In these situations, the surgeon will make an incision in the gumline. Additionally, he might need to break the tooth into several pieces in order to remove it from the jaw.
Options for Replacing Extracted Wisdom Teeth
Once the tooth is removed, what happens next?
Many wisdom teeth need no replacement. After all, the purpose of removing them was to create more room in your mouth for the rest of your teeth. The socket that held the wisdom teeth will heal and act as part of your gums.
However, sometimes you might need a replacement. Implants are the most common type of tooth replacement. They’re made from a ceramic material that looks and feels similar to real teeth. Implants are permanent replacements and, once installed, you can treat them just like the rest of your teeth.
A bridge is another potential option. It’s an appliance that replaces a missing tooth by permanently attaching to two existing teeth (forming a “bridge” between them). However, because it connects between two healthy teeth, it doesn’t work when replacing the last two teeth in your mouth.
If your wisdom teeth need removal, you can rest easy knowing the procedure is often easier and less expensive than you probably realized. Don’t let a misunderstanding of wisdom teeth removal costs in the US prevent you from the treatment you deserve.
Even though you might experience some minor discomfort in the few days after the procedure, wisdom tooth removal is often an excellent way to improve your dental health for life.