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Wisdom tooth pain: causes, costs & coverage

May 4, 2023

The phrase, “it’s like pulling teeth” came from somewhere. Given how excruciating toothaches can be, it’s no surprise that wisdom tooth pain can lead to extractions – and they’re not exactly a walk in the park.

Located at the very back of your mouth, wisdom teeth are molars that typically develop in your late teens or early 20s and are thus the last teeth to come in (that is, if they even come in at all!).

Some wisdom teeth do not need to be extracted because they present no issues to mouth development, ingesting food or prior dental work. Others may need extraction, as determined by your dentist. The extraction itself isn’t terrible, but the pain and other less-than-pleasant aftereffects will require care. Read on for more information about wisdom tooth pain, when to get wisdom teeth removed and how to care for your mouth after an extraction.

Wisdom tooth pain: causes, costs & coverage

When should I get my wisdom teeth removed?

Call it evolution – humans needed an extra set of molars back in the caveman days to be able to chew raw meats; thus, we had bigger jaws back in the day that allowed wisdom teeth to grow in normally.

In the present day, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone over 25 with their last row of molars intact. We have smaller jaws and now use knives and forks to help us eat.

In some cases, your wisdom teeth will erupt through your gums without any pain or problems. In this case, you can consider yourself evolved, and you won’t need to have the tooth or teeth removed. In other cases, one to all of your wisdom teeth must be removed.

You should speak with your dentist if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or discomfort near the wisdom tooth or teeth

  • Inflamed gums

  • Facial swelling

  • Fever

  • Bad breath

  • Difficulty opening your mouth and/or swallowing

Further, a dentist or maxillofacial doctor can tell you if your wisdom teeth are “impacting” or damaging your other teeth or bite, typically through an oral exam and X-rays. When I had my wisdom, teeth removed at age 19, it was precautionary to prevent any future damage to my mouth; my husband has three of his four wisdom teeth!

How to care for wisdom tooth pain after extraction

If the dentist determines that you should have your wisdom teeth removed, you will typically be given a local anesthetic to numb the area and perhaps laughing gas. It’s normal to experience pain and swelling in the gums and jaw, and your dentist will give you instructions about how to heal. 

After an extraction, be sure to:

  • Avoid strenuous activity for 1-2 days

  • Use cold packs on the side of your face during the first day, then switch to warm packs on day 2 and beyond

  • Drink a lot of water to prevent infection

  • Eat soft foods that do not require chewing, especially until after the anesthesia wears off. Consider this the best time, post-childhood, to eat ice cream!

  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water as instructed by your dentist

  • Avoid tobacco for 1-2 days, as tobacco use can slow down the healing process or exacerbate dry socket pain

How to care for dry socket after a wisdom tooth extraction

One of the most common side effects outside of pain and swelling is a condition known as dry socket. When a tooth is extracted, a small blood clot forms to seal off the area from infection and further bleeding, as well as protect the gum and bone. Dry sockets are extremely painful due to inflammation and food getting trapped in the affected area, and you may need to see a dentist for further treatment. Ask about care instructions from your medical professional and ask about antibacterial or antiseptic sprays.

Cost of wisdom tooth removal

Dental work is never cheap, unfortunately. That said, dental interventions or even a simple teeth cleaning is much cheaper in Spain, no matter the nature of your insurance policy.

Those on Spanish social security will know that children 6-17 have dental coverage for cleaning, check-ups and minor procedures, including wisdom teeth. For adults, check your autonomous community’s guidelines.

If the tooth is not deeply impacted and has erupted, you can expect to pay 75-100€ for each extraction in a private clinic. More complicated cases could run closer to 120€ per tooth.

Wisdom tooth pain: causes, costs & coverage

Is wisdom tooth extraction covered by insurance?

General dentistry is not typically included in standard health insurance plans, save a yearly teeth cleaning and oral exam. 

Both the Caser Smile Essential and Caser Smile Perfect have a host of free dental treatments and services, including simple and complex tooth extractions. Other services under the oral health care umbrella have a fixed price of up to 50% of normal prices – far under what my parents would have paid for my four teeth to be removed when I was a teenager. 

In Caser’s dental insurance guidelines, there is not a specific coverage for wisdom tooth extraction; rather, it is considered a normal extraction and thus coverage depends on the coverage level of the contracted insurance plan.

Should you take out dental insurance?

My mother spent her childhood in a dentist’s chair, and even today she gets frequent checkups. For someone who wants to show off a healthy smile, dental insurance is worthwhile.

Caser– a leading name in healthcare in Spain – offers two plans: Essential Smile and the full-coverage Perfect Smile. Both are available to anyone over 18 – there are no grace periods, health questionnaires or age limits – and can be customized to include family members. Get your dental insurance quote in less than a minute.

From checkups to root canals, your payments will be free or reduced up to 50% if you choose Caser Expat Insurance. And if you have kids, start them off early with preventative dental care by considering either of Caser’s family dental insurance plans – Smile Essential starts at 17.55€ a month, and Smile Perfect, at 21.65€. Perhaps the biggest benefit is your access to more free treatments and savings of up to 50% on long-term care.

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