Given their location at the very back of the mouth, wisdom teeth are relatively complicated to remove. Also, they are situated close to the inferior alveolar nerve or lingual nerve.
However, with dentistry having become more sophisticated and patient-friendly over time, removal of wisdom teeth is today a far safer and more comfortable process than it once was, and the end result is relief from wisdom tooth pain.
What causes wisdom tooth pain?
The most common wisdom tooth problem is known as impaction, which refers to a tooth that is ‘coming in sideways’ because it has insufficient space to erupt. On the other hand, wisdom teeth can also over erupt.
Unless the teeth are removed, either of the following painful conditions might arise:
- Development of gum disease, which tends to result from food building up around the teeth because access for cleaning is so restricted.
- Inflammation and bacterial accumulation affecting the soft tissue (both gum and dental follicle) around the partially erupted tooth.
Over eruption can also cause bad bite and trauma to surrounding teeth because the erupted teeth can be quite sharp.
What is the procedure for having your wisdom teeth removed?
Most people will find themselves in the position of choosing whether they would like their wisdom teeth extracted in the chair at your dentist under local anaesthetic, or to be placed under general anaesthetic in an operating theatre environment. Each has their different advantages and disadvantages:
Wisdom Teeth Removal in the chair with Local Anaesthesia
- Minimal disruption to your daily routine prior to the extraction
- An inexpensive alternative if you don’t have private health cover
- Perfect for extractions with little to no complications. For example, your x-rays have shown straight teeth roots in the gums which should mean a smooth extraction
- Unable to be put under general anaesthetic for medical reasons
- It can be a little confronting to be able to see the dentist at work during this treatment as it requires quite a lot of work and often multiple people in the room
- There can be a fair amount of pain after the extraction and local anaesthesia wears off right away meaning you are straight into pain management territory and you will need to have this sorted before you head to the dentist
Wisdom Teeth Removal under General Anaesthesia
- You’ll experience no pain and have no memory of the procedure
- Local anaesthesia is also administered to block any postoperative pain
- A surgical team will be on hand to monitor you throughout the procedure
- This option is only available to patients who meet all the health checks needed to be under general anaesthetic.
- Recovery time may be longer due to the anaesthetic
- This option may be costlier if you don’t have private health insurance
What is the cost of wisdom teeth removal?
The costs of wisdom tooth extraction varies based on the complexity of the procedure and therefore the type of clinician required to treat it.
If relatively straightforward, the extraction procedure may be carried out by a general dentist. However, for more complicated cases it is recommended and strongly advised to seek referral to an oral & maxillofacial surgeon, a specialist with a number of years of extra medical, dental and oral surgery training.
For relatively simple cases of wisdom tooth extraction, a general dentist may be able to perform the procedure under local anaesthesia in the dental chair at an estimated base cost between $250 and $450 per tooth.
For more complex wisdom tooth extraction procedures, particularly those requiring general anaesthesia in a hospital setting, you will be required to see a qualified specialist oral & maxillofacial surgeon. Estimated base costs of wisdom teeth extraction by such a specialist are $500 to $650 per tooth.
The additional costs of wisdom tooth extraction under general anaesthesia include both anaesthetic and hospital fees. Medicare and private health fund rebates do apply and if you have private health insurance with hospital cover, your out-of-pocket costs will vary depending on your level of cover. Therefore you are advised, when you receive your initial treatment plan of estimated costs and before undertaking your procedure, to check your rebate with your private health insurer, so that you are well prepared and able to budget for the treatment.