“I am in a lot of pain and I give you permission to remove 2 or 3 teeth.”
Many years ago, I was in so much pain from a toothache that I went to a dentist’s office and wrote those exact words on a patient registration form.
I said this to my relatives, and they howled with laughter.
It was weird to me, because I wasn’t trying to make anyone laugh.
I had tooth pain that manifested itself into pulses of agony repetitively surging along my jawline.
Every pulse of pain felt like someone had connected an exposed car battery wire to my teeth.
I didn’t know better, but I thought I had several teeth that had to be removed.
My dentist later informed me that the nerve pain of one rotting tooth transmitted the pain to the nearby teeth.
I only had to have one tooth removed, thankfully.
And, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I didn’t pay anything for it. My publicly sponsored health care insurance footed the bill.
Unfortunately, many people go without health care insurance, and suffer in agony with tooth pain, for years.
I have a relative who was unemployed and had a rotting front tooth. She didn’t try to get it extracted until a tiny hole was visible on her tooth.
There are many reasons why people suffer with tooth pain.
None are good.
I am going to tell you about the average price for tooth extractions, alternative dental care options, and the added costs for unpredictable complications.
The longer you put off dealing with tooth pain, the worse the problem can become.
Also, it can become more expensive to deal with tooth extraction if there are complications.
So, why are people uninsured?
And exactly how much does it cost to extract a tooth?
The Unnecessary Mindset of Being Uninsured
The number of Americans currently without health insurance hasn’t been this high since 2009. Remember, the ACA didn’t become law until 2010.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 45% of uninsured people remain uninsured because they believed coverage was too expensive.
Instead of assuming, its easier to check Healthcare.gov and consider your options.
You could qualify for low cost or virtually free publicly funded health insurance based on your financial need.
Whether it comes to tooth extractions, or more serious medical problems, its better to have medical insurance and not need it than need it and not have it.
Before getting into tooth extraction costs, let’s talk about how not to get into a situation where one is needed.
What causes tooth decay?
What Necessitates the Need for Tooth Extraction?
I don’t want to come off as preachy, but good oral hygiene maintenance is something working adult may not prioritize as much as they should.
For example, I am a full-time freelance writer. I don’t have health insurance.
This wasn’t too much of a problem when I was in the United States because of the ACA.
However, now I am traveling internationally. I take care of my teeth as much as I can because I must pay out of pocket for health care.
It’s the same difference if you live in the United States and don’t have health insurance.
Your teeth could be a ticking financial time bomb.
There are many reasons why you may need a tooth removed in adulthood. Some people only get wisdom teeth removed later on in life.
As your teeth grow, they may crowd and impact each other necessitating the need for extraction.
Also, chemotherapy and organ transplant procedures can cause tooth infection problems, so their removal may become necessary.
However, most people need a tooth removed because of negligent oral hygiene practices, tooth infections, and tooth decay.
Average Cost of Tooth Extraction
The average cost of getting a tooth extracted ranges between $75 to $300 per tooth.
That cost increases to as much as $650 per tooth if a complicated surgical extraction is required.
Keep in mind these are estimates. Every dentist has their own pricing metric for the costs of procedures.
You must remember that not all tooth extractions are alike.
Complications could arise after examination of your dental x-rays that could necessitate you having to pay much more money for the extraction.
Let me explain.
With a simple extraction the dentist takes an x-ray, administers general anesthesia, or a shot of Novocain to the gums, or has you inhale nitrous oxide, and pulls out the tooth.
It won’t be that easy if there are unseen complications.
For instance, you may need a surgical extraction.
The visible part of your tooth is called the crown and the part under the gum line connected to your jawbone is called the root.
Imagine your crown breaking in half. The broken section under the gum can become covered by the gums within weeks.
So, the gums will have to be surgically cut to expose the root.
Or, the root under your gums could be diseased, decayed, or broken into several pieces.
In such cases, a, “surgical extraction,” and not a simple extraction, may be required.
This is basically an oral surgery procedure conducted just to extract a tooth.
Now, remember we are talking about having a, “tooth,” as in just one tooth, removed.
If you need multiple teeth removed, which many dentists would consider a complication, then the costs increase dramatically.
If you are uninsured and want to save money on tooth extractions, you have some options.
Dental Care Alternatives for the Uninsured
First of all, shop around. Call every local dentist nearby. Ask if they have installment, financing, or discount plans.
Many dentists offer financing plans for basic dental services without complications to working-class people.
There are many federally maintained websites where you consult with organizations or look up low-cost dental services near you.
The website NeedyMeds has a listing of over 4,000 dentists and dental clinics offering low-cost and sliding scale dental care. Input your address on this site and you’ll get a list of such near you.
Peruse your favorite online coupon websites and look for discount dental coupons.
Look up the addresses of your local dental colleges. Call up and ask if you can volunteer yourself for educational purposes for a tooth extraction. Many of these colleges also offer tooth extractions at discount prices.
Look up every medical-related non-profit and humanitarian organization near you. Many hold events domestically and internationally where doctors and dentists offer their services free of charge to people who can’t afford it.
DentistryFromTheHeart.org is one such organization. It may not serve your needs but keep looking. You’re bound to find one that does.
I can’t stress it enough. Go to Healthcare.gov and check your options. It’s a lot better than assuming you can’t afford dental care.
If you have a working-class salary or are unemployed, you may be eligible for insurance that could easily pay for tooth extractions.
The longer that you ignore tooth pain, the more complicated, and expensive, a potential extraction becomes.
Allen Francis was an academic advisor, librarian, and college adjunct for many years with no money, no financial literacy, and no responsibility when he had money. To him, the phrase “personal finance,” contains the power that anyone has to grow their own wealth. Allen is an advocate of best personal financial practices including focusing on your needs instead of your wants, asking for help when you need it, saving and investing in your own small business.