Wisdom tooth removal is already scary enough, before you dive into the costs.
But there’s no doubt that recovery is a little bit smoother when you’re able to keep the cost of wisdom tooth extraction as low as possible.
Wisdom teeth are a painful experience all around for some. For others, it is both less painful and less costly. Wisdom teeth are fickle things and this disparity reflects that.
In this guide to wisdom teeth extraction costs, we’ll explain exactly what makes each extraction unique. Then, we’ll explore all the most effective ways to save money on wisdom teeth removal.
But first, let’s answer another question:
Is Wisdom Tooth Removal Even Necessary?
There are few parts of the human anatomy that don’t serve a purpose.
So why do we have these “extra” teeth that only seem to cause pain and discomfort? It’s pretty simple really. Humans have only been able to keep such a large percentage of their teeth for a couple hundred years. We used to need the extras.
Before modern advances in overall human health and dental hygiene, our third set of molars caused less problems. Instead, they fit more comfortably into mouths where other teeth had already been lost. Today, most people are able to keep their first 28.
This has rendered our last four molars obsolete—or worse yet, a nuisance.
Wisdom tooth removal is common practice in countries such as the United States and Australia. However, it is not always necessary (or even advisable). For some, wisdom teeth cause no issues whatsoever.
For others, it is absolutely necessary.
Some reasons wisdom tooth removal may be recommended include: pain, damage to other teeth, misalignment of other teeth, damage to the jaw, increase tooth decay, gum inflammation, or sinus issues. Most get worse over time.
These issues may be present or potential. That means they may already be happening or they may happen in the future. This is where a dentist you trust comes in handy.
Your dentist may use X-rays and other examination techniques to predict how your wisdom teeth may affect the rest of your mouth over time. Just keep in mind that it is in their best interest to convince you that you extraction is necessary.
As we go over the costs of having your wisdom teeth removed, you’ll see just how lucrative the procedure may be for your dentist. Just don’t let that stop you from getting your wisdom teeth removed if it is necessary.
Wisdom Tooth Removal Costs
The total cost of tooth extraction falls into a wide range and wisdom tooth removal is no different.
The cost of removing a single wisdom tooth may cost $75-900 total. Many people opt to have them all removed at once; dental professionals facilitate this by offering package deals. Removing all four wisdom teeth at once can cost $300-3000.
This disparity reflects many factors. But the main one is whether or not your wisdom teeth are impacted—and if so, how severely. Impacted teeth have not erupted through the gums fully.
Understanding which category you fall into is the first step in narrowing down your total wisdom tooth removal costs.
Simple Extraction Costs
Simple extractions are those of fully erupted teeth with simple roots and normal positioning.
The total cost of simple wisdom tooth removal for a single tooth may be $75-200 but may exceed $500. You will likely pay $300-800 for simple extraction of all four wisdom teeth, but costs may exceed $1200.
Factors such as location play a role. So do associated costs such as anesthetic and X-rays. Regardless, you should probably consider yourself lucky if your wisdom tooth removal procedure is a simple one.
From here on, most wisdom tooth extractions are considered “surgical”.
Surgical Extraction Costs – Soft Tissue Impaction
Soft tissue impaction describes teeth that are still partially encased in gum tissue.
Surgical removal of a single wisdom tooth with soft tissue impaction usually costs $225-400, but may exceed $600. To remove all four wisdom teeth with soft tissue impaction, you will likely pay $800-1500.
For wisdom teeth with soft tissue impaction, the gums are cut in a such a way to provide access to the tooth. The gums are then sutured together after the tooth has been removed.
Soft tissue impaction certainly isn’t fun. But it could be worse.
Surgical Extraction Costs Bony Impaction
Those with bony impacted wisdom teeth truly get the short end of the stick.
Removing a single bony impacted wisdom tooth requires surgical extraction that usually costs $275-500, but may cost over $900 total. You will likely pay $1000-$1800 if all of your wisdom teeth are bony impacted. But total costs could exceed $3000.
You may have guessed that bony impacted wisdom teeth are still encased in the jaw bone. This means that your dentist or oral surgeon may have to cut away pieces of your jaw in order to remove your teeth.
Bony impaction is actually dividing in the “partial” and “full”, with the latter obviously be more severe (and costly). Those with full bony impacted wisdom teeth have it worse than anyone.
Obviously, this type of extraction is likely to have the highest pain and recovery costs.
Costs Associated with Wisdom Tooth Extraction
There are a variety of things that can add to the cost of wisdom tooth removal.
The actual procedure itself may amount to less than 50% of total wisdom removal costs for you. This makes the ability to understand and compare quotes extremely useful. Prices of associated costs may fluctuate greatly between practices.
For instance, the initial exam may be free. Or, it may cost you $50-200. X-rays may add an additional $25-250.
Then, anesthesia can inflate prices even more.
Nitrous oxide may cost $50-100. Local anesthetics often add close to $300. And general anesthesia may increase the cost by $500 per hour. Any or none of these may be included in your main bill. It’s important to know.
Then, you have to consider costs such as aftercare, prescriptions, and potential lost work. Those with more severe impaction can expect to pay more in most of these areas.
Some of these costs may not apply to you. But others may not show up until later. It’s crucial that you understand exactly what it is you are paying for at every phase. Make sure you ask all the necessary questions.
Knowledge is the first key to decrease the total cost of wisdom tooth removal.
Saving Money on Wisdom Tooth Removal
Regardless of your situation, there are ways to reduce the cost of wisdom teeth removal.
There are both public and private institutions that can help to lower your out-of-pocket costs. Plus, there are a variety of clever strategies that can be used as well.
Let’s get the most obvious out of the way first.
Medicare and Medicaid
You might have asked yourself:
“Will the government help me with my wisdom tooth removal?”
The most direct answer we can give you is maybe. It depends on where you are located and a variety of other factors. The chances of Medicare helping you are close to 0%. But Medicaid just might.
Medicare is a national program exclusively for seniors and the disabled. It only covers dental expenses in case of emergency, and only for those who qualify.
However, Medicaid coverage and eligibility vary from state to state. Wisdom tooth removal isn’t usually considered medically necessary. But its high adoption rate in the U.S. means that more states are willing to offer help through Medicaid.
To find out for sure whether you might find help through your state’s Medicaid program, reach out to the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. Your dentist may also be a great ally in helping you find unique opportunities in your state.
The right dental insurance is a great way to lower wisdom tooth removal costs.
Though you’ll almost certainly have a deductible, you won’t pay full price. Dental insurance may cover up to 80%, depending on your plan and requirements of the procedure. Compare how plans treat wisdom tooth removal when shopping around.
Most dental insurance plans have yearly limits of $1,000-1,500. Because of this, you may be able to save more by dividing your procedure across two calendar years (left side end of December, right side beginning of January).
If you have a more complicated procedure, you’ll definitely want to supplement dental insurance with another strategy.
Or if you’re one of the 120+ million Americans without dental insurance, you might have to stick to those other strategies algother. We want to encourage those who fall into this group to consider dental coverage seriously.
The stats say that those without dental benefits are 67 percent more likely to have heart disease, 50 percent more likely to have osteoporosis, and 29 percent more likely to have diabetes.
Dental health plays a huge role in overall wellbeing. If you just can’t find the value in them, at least take a serious look at dental discount membership programs.
Dental Discount Plans
Discount dental plans can be used with dental insurance, or independently.
Dental discount plans are one of the best ways to reduce the cost of any dental procedure.
A monthly membership fee replaces an insurance premium. As a member, you have access to discount pricing on whatever procedures are a part of the plan. There are no limits on how much you can save.
There are both specialized and general plans. You’ll actually notice a high level of customizability. And it’s easy to find a membership plan that will help you save money on wisdom tooth removal.
The best part:
Some plans offer discounts as high as 60 percent!
You can save money on lot’s of dental procedures through dental schools.
Sign up as a patient at a clinic inside one of these schools and you will likely find a lower rate than what your local dental practice might charge. You will provide experience for a student who is always supervised by a certified professional.
It may seem scary, but many people use this method to pay less for dental care. In fact, you may have to get on a waiting list. You may also find faculty or postgraduate clinics, but expect a longer wait and less of a discount.
You decide whether the risk is worth it.
Tooth Extraction Overseas
Dentals costs are much lower in many countries than in the United States.
“Medical tourism” is catching on and dental procedures are some of the most commonly sought after procedures overseas.
According to MEDIGO, simple tooth extraction costs begin at less than $15 in multiple countries. And while they have different figures for wisdom tooth extractions, please realize that no one goes overseas for procedures that would be low-cost here.
You must take the cost of travel into account and confirm all of the cost details before committing, but this is a legitimate way to reduce expensive dental bills.
If that sounds like too much for you, don’t worry. We still have a few clever tricks to offer up.
Other Organizations that Might Help
Research is the friend of anyone trying to save money on wisdom tooth removal.
You still have a lot of options if you don’t like your results from the tactics listed above.
There are dental-health-oriented charities such as Dental Lifeline Network, America’s Toothfairy, ToothWisdom.org that can help you find discounted wisdom tooth removal. Speaking of charities, your local United Way probably has the inside scoop on your area.
State and local health departments can inform you of programs as well. You might also check the ASTDD’s directory of State. Oral Health Programs.
Lastly, no one ever thinks of clinical trials, but they are a great way to save money on all types of medical care. Perform a few searches at ClinicalTrials.gov and see what you find.
Saving money on wisdom tooth extraction might not be simple. But for most people, the putting in the time is well worth it.
Exhaust all of these options and you’ll probably come up with several viable solutions. Still, there’s more.
Other Ways to Reduce the Cost of Tooth Removal
If you’ve done your due diligence, the following tips could yield dramatic results.
Research and negotiation are something like lost arts to the average person in modern American society. However, their value has never been greater.
The right knowledge, used the right way, can help you save a ton of money on wisdom tooth extraction.
Some strategies you should definitely consider:
- Investigate, then analyze. Dentists demand a higher price when they have great locations or reputations. It doesn’t take that much work to uncover smaller practices who charge less. 30 minutes of phone calls or 30 minutes of extra driving may be all it takes to save you 30%.
- Looks for new practices and specialists. Many newer practices advertise good deals on wisdom tooth removal in order to get customers in the door. You may even find high-volume specialists if you live in a city large enough to support one. Focus on a single service often offers high quality at a lower price.
- Test out some negotiation. While it will obviously be more effective with some than with others, negotiation can be a great way to save a couple hundred dollars. When you’ve done enough research, you can often leverage the information you’ve gathered to force dentists to compete for your business.
- Pay in full with cash. Accepting credit cards and insurance requires that your dentist pays fees. Save them these fees and they may just pass all of those saving on to you. If you make a habit out of paying cash with your regular dentist, you’ll probably end up gaining considerable favor over time.
- Not sure? Maybe you should wait. If you aren’t convinced that you need to have your wisdom teeth removed (no pain, no impaction), then it might be best to allow some time before making a decision. After all, your wisdom teeth may never cause you any issues. Just be sure to get at least one professional opinion.
- Get them all removed together. It’s almost always less expensive to get all of your wisdom teeth removed together. This may involve dealing with two uncomfortable ones while the other two grow in further. You may also get the single-procedure discount by paying for all four extractions up front.
We’ve laid out everything there is to know about wisdom tooth extraction costs and how to lower them. Dental costs so quickly fly sky high. But with a little effort, applied cleverly, those costs can be brought right back down to Earth again.
Implement as many of these strategies as possible and you’ll undoubtedly save a large portion off of a bill that can otherwise get out of hand.