It can be disconcerting to hear that your wisdom teeth need to be removed. Don't you need them to chew in the back of your mouth? Not necessarily, and it's a smart decision over the long term. Once a treatment plan calls for extraction, however, you're faced with the tooth extraction cost, and there's no easy way to break it down. For some it may be more costly for each tooth at $800, whereas others may spend much less.
Numerous factors can determine how the procedure and type of anesthesia will affect your budget, so your dentist or oral surgeon will be there to evaluate your mouth and guide you along the way.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth, otherwise known as your third molars, erupt in adult dentition that usually between the ages of 17 and 22 (because these teeth erupt entering adulthood – or the "age of wisdom" – they've been given this distinct name). Anthropologists believe these teeth have become obsolete due to evolution. Our ancestors used to eat very different foods, but generations of changes to this diet have resulted in smaller jaws and the formation of fewer teeth than the typical four molars. As a result, wisdom teeth don't always come in properly, and are extracted for most people.
How They Erupt
Wisdom teeth are as important as other permanent molars, but more susceptible to problems. If they are properly aligned and fully erupted, they're in the best environment to function and hold the best chance at remaining disease-free. However, they often present themselves as impacted (under the bone and gum tissue), and positioned in a way never allows them to completely breach the gumline.
Some teeth begin to erupt and stop after they're partially in, and this allows bacteria to collect around the tooth and under the gums.
Why Remove Them
Typically, extraction should be considered when:
- Frequent infections develop.
- Teeth develop cavities and their positioning limits restoring them.
- Cysts or tumors form around impacted teeth.
- Decay or gum issues affect the health of adjacent teeth.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is keeping these teeth clean. Although brushing with your soft toothbrush can comfortably clean the second molars, it's often limited to this distance because wisdom teeth are so hard to reach. So, if they have to go, the best time to have them taken out is as a young adult. The roots aren't fully developed at this age, allowing for a more successful procedure and quicker healing process.
Tooth Extraction Costs
Wisdom teeth extractions should be performed by a oral maxillofacial surgeon who has experience in this common surgical procedure. These specialists have additional training beyond dental school and are certified to administer general anesthesia, if needed. The tooth extraction cost can fall between $75 and $200 per tooth depending on anesthesia, as reported by Angie's List, and if impacted, the costs are significantly higher. Impacted teeth are considered a surgical extraction and general anesthesia will be needed, adding up to $800 to the total cost of treatment. Costs can vary by region, as well. For example, in the Northeast, having four impacted wisdom teeth extracted under general anesthesia can cost up to $4000. The good news is part of these costs can be offset by dental or even medical insurance under certain circumstances.
Losing your wisdom teeth won't affect your wisdom, but it will help you maintain a healthy and functioning smile much more easily. Don't let the costs deter you.