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Does wisdom tooth removal mean surgery?

Wisdom tooth surgery is a term that is used frequently. However, do you know that not all forms of wisdom tooth removal requires surgery?

By the end of this article, you should have a better clue if your case requires a surgical procedure.Also, I will explain why wisdom tooth surgery costs so much.

First, let’s explain the terminology.


Most teeth can be removed via simple extractions. This means that the tooth can be removed without manipulation of the surrounding soft tissue and bone.

*insert tooth extraction GIF*

Wisdom tooth surgery

Teeth that are difficult to remove may require an additional, small, surgical procedure. This surgical procedure is needed if the wisdom tooth is impacted or if it is not fully erupted.

In many cases, wisdom teeth will be impacted as well as partially erupted, hence necessitating surgery.

How do impacted teeth look like on the X-ray?

The above X-ray shows an example of impacted wisdom teeth. Circled in red are the lower left and right wisdom teeth.

As you can see, the teeth are not coming out in a straight line like the rest of the teeth. Instead, it is nearly horizontal and impacted against the tooth in front of it.

As such, these impacted wisdom teeth tend to look like that above in the mouth. Because they are impacted against the front tooth, they are unable to erupt fully. We call these wisdom teeth partially erupted.

They cannot be extracted like normal teeth because they are partially hidden underneath the gums. To remove them, we need to perform a minor surgery to expose the gums and expose more of the teeth.

Occasionally, wisdom teeth can be removed without a surgery. This occurs more commonly in upper wisdom teeth, where they tend to erupt out straighter than the lower ones.

We can see that the upper wisdom teeth (in blue circles) are pretty much coming out in a straight fashion. In this case, a surgery may be avoided and a normal extraction can be done. Not all upper wisdom teeth can be removed via simple extractions though, some cases look like this!

As you can see, the upper wisdom tooth is impacted and a simple extraction cannot be done. In this case, a surgery is also needed.

Does your teeth require surgery or can it be removed via a normal extraction?

X-rays may provide a big clue, but only upon examination will your dentist be able to tell if surgery is needed or not. (call to action - send over X-rays and pictures)

Differences in cost

A simple extraction without surgery incurs a relatively low cost of anywhere between $50-$200.

So why is it that wisdom tooth surgery costs so much more?

This is due to the following reasons:

- Wisdom tooth surgery has to be carried out in a strict aseptic environment. This is not to say that extractions are not carried out in a clean environment - They are however - surgery requires that additional measures be taken to ensure an aseptic field. For example, the dentist will have to don an additional layer of protective wear (scrubs), and the surgical field has to be carefully disinfected. For females, long hair have to be tied up and hidden from the operating field.

*insert pic of operating view*

- More tools and equipment are needed

*insert pic of surgical tray*

- The procedure is much more difficult! As with all medical and dental procedures, the more difficult and complicated it is, the higher the cost.

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