While most of your adult teeth will have appeared by your early teen years, the very back molars can be ‘impacted’ and / or often only appear later in life. These teeth are known as third molars or ‘wisdom teeth’, and they are known for often emerging incorrectly or getting stuck in the jawbone, causing problems in the jaw, adjacent teeth and your overall dental health. In these cases extraction is important, but how much does wisdom teeth removal cost?
Why do wisdom teeth get extracted?
Normally there are four wisdom teeth in the mouth — two in the upper jaw and two in the lower. This number can vary with some people developing fewer or none at all. Patients need to have their wisdom teeth extracted when one or more of these teeth become impacted, meaning they are partially or fully trapped in the gums or jawbone. Impaction is when the teeth are not able to erupt into the correct position in the jaw bone and can end up pushing against other teeth and creating a variety of health problems like decay, gum / soft tissue infection and jaw discomfort.
Wisdom tooth extraction is done to alleviate these issues by removing the problem teeth. Where possible, we complete an x-ray and screening process to assess the development of wisdom teeth during teenage years before any of them become problematic, with early intervention often recommended to reduce the risk of further pain, discomfort and treatment complications.
Fortunately, not all wisdom teeth that develop will need to be extracted. We only extract wisdom teeth when they are impacted or pose another health risk, but many will develop normally in the jaw and pose no issue.
Factors affecting the cost of wisdom tooth extraction
A huge part of any dental treatment is understanding what you are paying for. Wisdom tooth extractions are a serious procedure with a lot of varying costs involved. These are the key factors that determine the wisdom tooth extraction cost and timeline.
Complexity and position
Upper wisdom teeth are typically a little easier to extract, due to the bone holding our upper teeth being less dense than the bone in the lower jaw. Upper wisdom teeth can usually be removed under local anaesthetic in the dental chair. Lower wisdom teeth are often more difficult to extract and may require a ‘day surgery’ procedure where the treatment is performed under general anaesthetic. The cost of getting wisdom removed under general anaesthesia is typically more expensive than the more simple removals that can be completed with a local anaesthetic in the dental chair.
Number of wisdom teeth
Your wisdom tooth extraction cost will also vary depending on the number of teeth being extracted at once. A simple extraction of one tooth will cost less than needing all four to be extracted at once. However, removing multiple teeth at the same time may be cheaper than having each individual tooth removed in distinct appointments, while also reducing your overall recovery timeline.
As part of safe extraction, you will also need to have a consultation with your dentist and have some x-rays taken, which will add some cost to the procedure. Outside of these, some patients may also need to pay for follow-up appointments to assess recovery, as well as medications to manage pain and prevent infection.
Cost of extraction
A simple wisdom tooth extraction conducted in the chair under local anaesthetic will typically range between $350 to $1000 per tooth, depending on the clinic you visit and the exact position of the tooth. If you require general anaesthetic, you may have to pay over $1000 per tooth, as this indicates that a more complex extraction is necessary. However, you can reduce the total wisdom tooth removal cost if you are having multiple extractions at the same time.
Your dentist should be able to provide you with a detailed quote of the full cost of getting your wisdom teeth removed prior to treatment, as well as discussion of any additional costs you may encounter.
Does Medicare cover wisdom teeth removal?
Unfortunately, like most dental procedures Medicare does not cover the cost of wisdom teeth removal. The only exception is for people who are on a public waiting list, but many are not eligible for this. On top of that, it can often take years to work your way up one of these lists, which is inconvenient when requiring an extraction to relieve pain and avoid further complications.
Does private health insurance cover wisdom teeth removal?
Many private health funds do offer cover for the cost of wisdom tooth removal, but the extent of cover varies by health fund and the level of extras cover an individual has. If you have private health insurance, check with your specific fund and review your policy to find out whether you are covered for extraction and the amount they cover.
Benefits of wisdom teeth removal
The main advantage of having any problematic wisdom teeth extracted is pain relief. Impacted teeth cause a lot of aching and discomfort in the face and jaw, also leading to headaches. Extraction provides a rapid relief of these issues. Additionally, extraction helps to reduce teeth crowding, which means the rest of your teeth have more room to develop properly and you are less likely to need orthodontics or other corrective treatment to address teeth misalignment.
It is important to note that there are no health benefits to removing wisdom teeth that have erupted properly and are causing no problems. For teeth that are causing issues, any initial discomfort associated with the extraction itself or the recovery period is outweighed by the longer term health improvements.
Prevent unnecessary pain
Having your wisdom teeth removed can provide rapid relief when you’re experiencing jaw and facial pain, while also reducing or preventing other health complications. It is worth having your wisdom teeth checked even if you aren’t experiencing any issues, with early preventative treatment always preferable to an emergency extraction. Get in touch today for a wisdom teeth check up and to find out how we can help you manage them safely.