WISDOM TEETH: FACTS, WHY WE HAVE THEM AND DO WE NEED TO TAKE THEM OUT?

march 26TH, 2021

WISDOM TEETH

About 10 million wisdom teeth are extracted on 5 million patients every year in the United States.

Not all wisdom teeth need to be removed, but roughly 90% of people will have one impacted wisdom tooth in their lifetime.

WHAT ARE WISDOM TEETH?

Wisdom teeth are third molars that come in later in life. They are the last set of teeth to erupt if they erupt at all.

They are called wisdom teeth because we get them later when we should have more “wisdom.”

WHEN DO WISDOM TEETH COME IN?

Third molars can erupt at various ages. They have been known to erupt as early as 16 to as late as 26 or even later.

There is no good way to predict when the wisdom teeth will erupt, if at all. Many patients will have impacted wisdom teeth that will never come in due to the eruption angle.

Our mouths have gotten smaller throughout the centuries due to our diets, less proper nutrients, and variances in baby feeding. Our wisdom teeth were likely valuable thousands of years ago but now are considered vestigial and do not serve a real purpose.

SHOULD I HAVE MY WISDOM TOOTH EXTRACTED?

Not everyone needs to extract their wisdom teeth. If you have enough room in your mouth, they are erupting straight, and you can clean all of your teeth properly, you likely will be able to maintain your wisdom teeth.

Many people keep their wisdom teeth until they start hurting or develop large cavities. It is not recommended to repair larger cavities on wisdom teeth since they are hard to maintain and will likely need to be extracted in the future.

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WHAT DO WISDOM TEETH LOOK LIKE?

The third molars look very similar to the other molars but erupt later in life. They can come in all shapes and sizes but typically are similar to the other molars. 

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By: Dr. Nathan Coughlin

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MY WISDOM TOOTH IS CAUSING PAIN. DO I NEED TO EXTRACT IT?

Just because your wisdom tooth is causing temporary pain does not necessarily mean you should extract it. The pain may be temporary as the tooth erupts.

If a wisdom tooth is erupting ectopically and there is no room for it, you should extract that tooth. It is easy for the dentist to determine if an extraction is necessary with proper radiographs.

SUMMARY OF WISDOM TEETH

Most patients will have some pain associated with wisdom teeth at one point in their lives. You will likely need your wisdom teeth removed as our jaws have gotten smaller over the centuries.

Your insurance may cover a more significant portion of your extractions, but the typical price of wisdom teeth removal is anywhere from $200 to $1000. You may elect to be sedated for this treatment which can incur further costs.

If you want to have your wisdom teeth evaluated, come to one of our offices for a comprehensive evaluation.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO EXTRACT WISDOM TEETH?

Wisdom teeth extractions vary from $200 to $1000 per tooth. Your costs may be less if your insurance covers the extractions. Many insurances will cover 80% of the wisdom teeth extractions. The price variance is due to many factors, including:

1. The need for extra anesthesia. This optional anesthesia allows patients to be more comfortable during the procedure.

2. The difficulty of extraction. The more impacted the tooth, the more complex the procedure, the more expensive it will cost.

3. Your insurance coverage. Many insurances will cover the vast majority of the extraction, but each insurance is different, so either come in for a quote or contact your insurance provider.

ANESTHESIA OPTIONS FOR WISDOM TOOTH REMOVAL

Many patients, including myself, opt for just local anesthesia when removing their teeth, but there are many additional anesthesia options:

1. Local anesthesia: Similar to when you have a cavity repaired.

2. Nitrous Oxide aka Laughing Gas: This gas helps you relax, yet you are aware of everything that is going on.

3. Oral Sedation: This involves taking a type of pill sedative before the procedure to relax you.

4. IV Conscious Sedation: This is more deep sedation, and you will likely not remember any of the procedures. Typically a dental anesthesiologist is involved in helping monitor you during sedation.

RECOVERY AFTER WISDOM TEETH REMOVAL

The first three days after the extraction is the most difficult. You may be prescribed antibiotics or pain medication to alleviate your discomfort.

Make sure to follow the instructions given to you in order to avoid dry sockets or further complications.

It is recommended to ice your cheeks for 36 hours after surgery, avoid sticky/hard foods and any suction motion.

You may also want to keep your head alleviated and massage your jaw to reduce any discomfort.

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