Wisdom Tooth Extraction - Removal Cost, Surgery, Pain, Insurance and Recovery

wisdom teeth x-ray

Price/Cost table

TypePrice/Cost USD
Simple Extraction$60 - $250 per tooth
Wisdom tooth extraction surgery$250 - $550 per tooth
Impacted wisdom teeth extraction$300 - $600 per tooth
X-rays$50 - $200

One of the most performed procedures at the dentist’s office is the so-called wisdom teeth removal. If you have had it done, you probably know a lot about it. But knowing the details of the surgical procedure will help you have realistic expectations and to even find the right dentist for your case. In this article, you’ll read everything there is to know about the procedure - what to expect, why some people get it, what happens during the procedure, what to expect afterwards, what to eat after wisdom teeth surgery, wisdom tooth extraction aftercare, and possible risks.

Before answering all of these questions, we need to explain in more detail about the wisdom teeth.

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth, also called “third molars”, are the teeth at the back of your mouth. They are the last ones to erupt. Most of the time they appear in the teenage years but they can still grow later than that. Usually, people have four wisdom teeth but some people never have any. The scientific literature has suggested a few reasons for the third molars to be impacted. The relevant theory is that the size of the human mandible/maxilla has been reducing due to evolution and thus resulting in humans having a mandible/maxilla that is too small to accommodate the corresponding molars 1.

Why Do Some People Need Wisdom Teeth Removal?

The eruption of a wisdom tooth is very often a slow process in which the tooth can only partially pierce the gums and remain at this stage for a long time. This, in turn, can create conditions for several problems, as a gingival pocket forms around the erupted tooth. This allows bacteria to enter the gingiva and makes it difficult to clean the area which may result in inflammation in the gums (and lead to gum disease later) and may cause tooth decay.

There can also be a problem when the wisdom teeth are in the wrong position relative to the other teeth. They can be located horizontally, rest on the adjacent molar, or be located inward to the oral cavity or outward to the cheek. In these cases, they need to be removed by an experienced dentist or by oral and maxillofacial surgeon. In a study with over 3000 subjects, it was shown that the experience of the specialist performing the surgery plays a main role in how many complications the patients will have post-surgery 2. This process is called wisdom tooth surgery. There is a growing number of cases where wisdom teeth do not sprout at all. In these cases, they are usually either missing or simply remain in the bone due to a difficult or delayed breakthrough. The latest research suggests that prophylactic removal of the wisdom teeth is not only unnecessary, but it may pose a serious health hazard 3 4.

When to Remove Wisdom Teeth

Although wisdom teeth are notorious for creating dental problems sooner or later, if the patient has no complaints, there is no need to remove it. In cases where the wisdom tooth causes only slight discomfort, with frequent visits to the dentist to clean and remove the remaining bacteria, the tooth can be preserved and even over time serve as a support for the placement of a bridge or prosthesis. In the case, when the teeth don't have enough room to erupt and thus disturb other teeth (it's called impacted wisdom teeth), your dentist will suggest extracting them.

In general, a dentist will consider extracting a wisdom tooth if:

  • It’s painful
  • It disrupts other teeth
  • It’s infected, or if there's wisdom tooth decay present

What Happens During a Wisdom Tooth Surgery?

There are a few steps to remove wisdom teeth. First off, the process will begin with your dentist taking an X-ray of the tooth to see the best way to approach the surgery. The dentist will also inject local anaesthesia 5 into the gum around the tooth to make sure you don’t feel any pain during the process.

After that, the dentist will proceed with tooth removal. If the tooth still hasn’t come through, they will make a small incision to provide access to access it. In some cases, the tooth has to be cut in smaller chunks to remove it more easily. If it has already erupted, it will be easier to remove.

After that, the dentist will widen the tooth socket to remove the tooth more easily. During the whole procedure, you won’t feel any pain because of the local anaesthesia. in case he or she has to make an incision, the dentist will stitch the gums as well. Most of the time, the whole process will take only 30 minutes but in some cases, it may take more time, especially if your case is more complicated.

What happens after wisdom tooth surgery?

Young woman suffering from a toothache while sitting on a chair in the dentist office

After your wisdom tooth has been removed, you can go back home immediately. In the case you were sedated, you might need to wake up first. If you had a local anaesthetic in, you’ll regain the feeling in the treated area in a few hours following the surgery. At this point, you may feel pain and generally be uncomfortable. You may even experience some bleeding. These symptoms are normal and they will resolve without any special attention from your dentist.

To relieve your symptoms, you can apply an ice pack on your side. Your dentist will likely prescribe antibiotics as well to ensure you won’t have any infection following the surgery. They will give you instructions on how to take the medicine and how to clean the area around your removed tooth. You should apply extra case every time you rinse your mouth. You don't want to go about it too vigorously as it may cause the blood clot to detach from its place, which will send you back to square one.

General Recovery Tips for Wisdom Teeth Removal Procedure

Even though the largest portion of the job is tackled by the dental surgeon, you should also do your part. There are certain things you should and shouldn't do that will ensure you get the smoothest wisdom teeth recovery possible. Don't be afraid to dive in and read up the guidelines. It goes without saying that you ought to follow the technician's piece of advice at all times. So, if they tell you something in addition to the below-stated facts, make certain to comply with them religiously.

When can I eat again and should I have a specific diet following the surgery?

You first have to wait until the effect of the sedation wears off and only then you can eat. That usually takes a few hours. Cold drinks and foods are recommended as they can narrow the blood vessels and help with the bleeding. You can ingest liquid or soft foods such as soups, purees, dairy products, and others.

You should not consume hot beverages or food because the heat causes the blood vessels to dilate and thus bleeding to resume, which will result in the blood clot falling off.

Try to keep the wound clean - eat on the other side and avoid solid foods, seeds, or hard small particles (nuts), because the wound is easily contaminated and incredibly difficult to clean at home.

You should not smoke cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, etc. because they also increase the risk of a blood clot.

Am I going to experience pain after wisdom tooth surgery?

A few hours after tooth removal, the effect of the anaesthetic will pass and you are likely to feel discomfort or even pain, which you can easily relieve with pain relief medication such as Ibuprofen. It is not recommended to apply ice on the wound to reduce pain. You can apply an ice pack on your cheek to relieve some of the pain.

How to take proper care of my teeth after an extraction? When to use mouthwash following the procedure?

In the evening, when brushing your teeth, do not clean the area of the extracted tooth and the teeth in front or behind it and try not to disturb the gums. You're probably asking yourself how to brush your teeth following wisdom tooth extraction too. You do not need to use a new toothbrush. You can use mouthwash from the second night and it is easier to gnaw with. On the morning of the second day, slight swelling with or without pain around the extracted tooth is possible. If you are not responding to pain relief medications or the wisdom teeth symptoms are very severe, see your doctor.

Wisdom Tooth Extraction Cost in the US

dentist holding a model of a wisdom tooth

The procedure may cost differently depending on whether you go to a government clinic or a private one. The price may also vary depending on the services included in your treatment plan - such as additional medications, X-ray, or the consultation fee. The wisdom teeth removal cost alone can vary between $200 - $1200, without insurance and without general anesthesia. For the most part, insurance companies cover up to 70-80% of the cost, if the annual limit of your plan allows for it.

Can I Use Dental Insurance for my Extraction Surgery?

You might use Insurance for your procedure. How much of that, if any, will be covered by insurance will depend on your individual plan. If it's not an emergency, the best way to go about it is to ask the dentist to submit a Pre-Authorization which will let you know exactly what is covered and how much, before you even start the procedure. The amount of the claim from dental insurance may also depend on the complexity of the case - most of the time patients only have one impacted wisdom tooth. For more impacted wisdom teeth, the amount of the claim may be greater.


Does everyone have wisdom teeth growing in?

No. Some people never experience any of that.

Can wisdom teeth cause neck pain?

If there is an infection in the tooth, it can give rise to pain in several adjacent regions, including the throat, neck, and entire jaw. You may also experience swollen lymph glands.

How do you make wisdom tooth pain go away?

There are several things you can try, such as rinsing with salt water or mouth water, applying ice packs near the targeted area, or taking OTC painkillers (Ibuprofen will make do). If the pain persists and becomes unbearable, schedule a visit with your dentist as soon as possible to rule out any infection.

Can I wear retainers after wisdom teeth removal?

Yes, it is absolutely safe to put back your retainers 24 hours post-surgery. In most cases, these gadgets extend up to the second molars, meaning they do not go as far as the wisdom teeth. Hence, they will not interfere in any way with the healing process.

What is the difference between wisdom tooth extraction and surgery?

The wisdom tooth removal (or any extraction for that matter) can be either simple or surgical. Your dentist will decide whether you’d need a surgical procedure or not. The simple removal happens when the tooth has already erupted and is above the gums. Then, the tooth will be taken out more quickly.

The extraction surgery is when the dentist needs to make an incision because the tooth hasn’t erupted yet. Even though general anaesthesia is not needed, you will still be given some form of sedation to ensure 100% numbness of the treated site, which will in turn help you endure throughout the manipulation.

How long does it take to recover from a wisdom tooth removal?

Most of the time, patients recover within 3-5 days after a wisdom tooth removal surgery. The full recovery can take up to 2 weeks, however. During this time you might experience some side effects such as swollen cheeks, bruising on your cheek, jaw stiffness, pain, and even lump around the extraction site. Some patients note they experience excess saliva after wisdom tooth extraction. These symptoms will resolve on their own but if you experience them for a long time or they are severe, call your dentist immediately for a consultation.

Can you talk following the procedure?

While you can talk, it’s best to limit it because your tongue and muscles will move and thus disturb your clots. You shouldn’t touch the area for the same reason too.

Will I need a follow-up after a wisdom tooth removal surgery?

In most cases, you won’t need additional follow-ups. Sometimes your oral surgeon may want to check your impacted wisdom tooth to make sure everything is healing properly. They might even get you an additional X-ray too to see if the impacted wisdom teeth have been removed properly and the wound is healing well.

What about wisdom teeth stitches removal? When does it occur?

If the technician uses absorbable stitches, they will dissolve on their own and you don't have to worry about it. If that's not the case with you, then you will need to go back to the dentist's office on the sixth or seventh day to get the job done. You will notice that some of the stitches will fall off by themselves when you start chewing your food. That's not a problem.

Is it possible to remove more than one wisdom tooth at the same time? How long should I wait before this can happen?

You may extract more than one wisdom tooth at a time. Usually, the oral surgeon starts with the more urgent tooth and, at his or her discretion, about how easy the manipulation is passed to the next one. If possible, opposite wisdom teeth are removed in order for the patient to eat without problems on the other side. After 8-10 days from the last extraction, the remaining problem-causing teeth can be removed.

The wisdom tooth has erupted in slightly, but not completely - does that mean I need surgery to remove the wisdom tooth?

Yes, in almost 100% of cases. They are called semi-retinal wisdom teeth. It is important to take a panoramic X-ray picture and establish the level of the bone.

While the tooth is being removed, can the molar next to it be damaged?

It is possible, but such a complication occurs relatively rarely. In most cases, patients experience constant discomfort in the molar, which gradually subsides in two to four weeks and disappears completely.

Is it common to get a dry socket after the procedure?

Between 2% and 5% of tooth extractions can result in a dry socket and the occurrence is more prevalent when it comes to removing wisdom teeth (about 30%). Nerve damage is also possible.

Should I go to someone specialising in oral and maxillofacial surgery or will a regular oral surgeon do?

The area of expertise of maxillofacial surgeons is the head and neck. Their expertise is related to extensive inflammatory and tumour processes that go beyond the oral cavity, as well as jaw fractures. Oral surgeons perform operations on the oral cavity involving teeth, soft tissues, and jaws. Their main expertise is the inflammatory processes in the oral cavity of dental and another origin. In most cases, wisdom tooth extraction is the most practised manipulation by the oral surgeon. Most maxillofacial surgeons specialise in oral surgery and it is a matter of choosing who you go to. You should know that upper wisdom tooth extraction is usually easier and less invasive because impaction rarely occurs here.