Wisdom teeth got their name in the mid 1800s due to the fact that most people don’t get this third row of molars until between the ages of 17 to 24 or so.

Considered a pain both literally and figuratively to many people, wisdom teeth extraction presents questions for those facing the procedure. Here, we discuss what we believe to be the top five answers to those questions.

Why do we even have wisdom teeth if we just remove them?

To best answer this question, ask an anthropologist. We can all thank our third row of molars—or “wisdom teeth”—to our early caveman ancestors. These teeth were necessary then to break down a diet of nuts, roots, raw meat, and other tough edibles. However, as we evolved, our brains grew larger thus leaving less room for these teeth, subsequently causing these teeth to grow in sideways, only partially emerge—otherwise known as “partially impacted”—or get fully trapped in your jawbone—known as “impacted.”

Additionally, over time and with the eventual invention of fire, cooking, and metal, we began to prepare our food in a manner that made it easier and softer to chew. Subsequently, our jaws have gotten smaller.

How much of a risk am I taking by removing my wisdom teeth?

Generally speaking, wisdom teeth removal is considered a routine procedure, so there is little to no risk involved. Of course, complications may occur either during or after extraction, but that is something to discuss with your dentist or oral surgeon to best determine your individual situation.

Will I be awake during the surgery?

Depending on your individual pain tolerance, you can opt for local anesthesia to numb just the immediate area while you remain awake. Or, you can choose a general anesthesia that will fully sedate you during the whole procedure, which usually lasts from 1 to 1 ½ hours.

How much does it cost and will my insurance cover it?

As with any surgical procedure, cost is a topic of concern for many people. According to webmd.com, simple extraction can cost as little as $99 per tooth; however, if the teeth are impacted, cost can range between $230 and $340 or upwards depending on your area.

Insurance may likely cover the cost if it’s considered medically necessary, but you’ll want to consult both your dental insurance carrier as well as your medical insurance provider. Coverage varies with individual policies, so it’s wise to check before your procedure. 

Are there options that may help reduce the cost?

Another alternative to consider is participating in a wisdom teeth study. It is quite possible that you could qualify for no cost wisdom teeth removal.

Currently, Jean Brown Research is conducting a clinical trial on a wisdom teeth surgery in Salt Lake City, Utah and is accepting applications. Qualified participants may also be compensated for time and travel.

Visit the Jean Brown Research wisdom tooth clinical study page to learn if you may qualify for wisdom teeth extraction in Utah at no charge.