Does insurance cover wisdom teeth removal?

Find out if insurance covers wisdom teeth removal. This article explores coverage details, pre-authorization requirements, and factors influencing insurance coverage. Discover alternative options for uninsured individuals. Maximize your insurance coverage and make informed decisions about your oral health.

Insurance coverage for wisdom teeth removal is a topic of concern for many individuals. These third molars often cause discomfort and may require surgical extraction. As you navigate the process of removing your wisdom teeth, understanding your insurance coverage becomes crucial. This article explores the question of whether insurance covers wisdom teeth removal, providing insights and considerations to help you make informed decisions regarding dental procedures.

What are wisdom teeth?


Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of molars to emerge in the adult mouth. They usually appear between the ages of 17 and 25. These teeth were originally useful for our ancient ancestors as a way to chew tough foods like meats and roots. However, with advancements in diet and dental hygiene, wisdom teeth have become less necessary.

When they erupt

Wisdom teeth typically erupt through the gums between the ages of 17 and 25, although this timeline can vary for each individual. Some people may not experience any issues with the eruption of their wisdom teeth, while others may face complications due to lack of space or improper alignment. Dentists usually monitor the development and eruption of wisdom teeth through X-rays and regular check-ups.

Potential problems

There are various potential problems associated with wisdom teeth. One common issue is that these teeth may not have enough space to fully emerge, leading to impaction. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain, infection, and damage to nearby teeth or bones. In cases where wisdom teeth partially erupt, food particles and bacteria can get trapped, increasing the risk of gum disease and decay. Additionally, the pressure from erupting wisdom teeth can cause crowding and shifting of the existing teeth, which may require orthodontic treatment to correct.

Importance of wisdom teeth removal

Preventing future complications

Removing wisdom teeth can prevent a range of future complications. By extracting these teeth before they can become impacted, you can avoid pain, infection, and damage to adjacent teeth. By eliminating the risk of impaction, you also reduce the likelihood of gum disease and decay caused by food and bacteria getting trapped around partially erupted wisdom teeth. Removing wisdom teeth can also prevent issues with the alignment and crowding of existing teeth.

Maintaining oral health

By removing wisdom teeth, individuals can maintain better oral health in the long run. Wisdom tooth extraction is often recommended as a proactive approach to prevent future dental issues. By eliminating the potential for impaction and the associated risks, individuals can avoid more complex and costly dental treatments later on. Additionally, removing wisdom teeth may contribute to better overall oral hygiene, as it can be challenging to properly clean and care for these teeth due to their positioning at the back of the mouth.

Types of insurance coverage

Dental insurance

Dental insurance is designed to cover a range of dental procedures, treatments, and preventive care. Coverage can vary based on the specific dental plan, but most dental insurances provide coverage for basic procedures like cleanings, fillings, and extractions. Some dental insurance plans may also offer coverage for wisdom tooth removal, depending on the individual’s unique needs and the policies of the insurance provider.

Health insurance

Health insurance typically covers medical expenses related to illnesses, injuries, and surgeries. While dental treatment is often not covered comprehensively by health insurance, some health insurance plans may include coverage for wisdom tooth removal if it is considered medically necessary. The extent of coverage can vary depending on the specific health insurance plan and the underlying health condition of the individual.

Dental insurance and wisdom teeth removal

Coverage details

When it comes to dental insurance coverage for wisdom teeth removal, it is important to review the specific details of the dental plan. Some dental insurance plans may fully cover the cost of wisdom tooth extraction, while others may only cover a portion of the expenses. Additionally, coverage may be contingent on certain eligibility criteria, such as the severity of impaction or the presence of associated complications. It is advisable to consult with the dental insurance provider or review the plan documentation to understand the coverage details.

Pre-authorization requirements

Before undergoing wisdom tooth removal, many dental insurance plans require pre-authorization. This involves submitting specific information, such as X-rays and the dentist’s treatment plan, to the insurance provider for review. The insurance company will assess the necessity of the extraction based on the individual’s unique case and determine the coverage amount accordingly. It is essential to follow the pre-authorization process outlined by the dental insurance plan to avoid unexpected out-of-pocket costs.

In-network vs. out-of-network providers

The choice of dental provider can also affect the coverage for wisdom teeth removal. Dental insurance plans often have a network of preferred providers, referred to as in-network providers. These dentists have agreed to discounted rates negotiated with the insurance company. Visiting an in-network provider can result in lower out-of-pocket costs for the patient. However, some dental insurance plans may provide coverage for out-of-network providers as well, although the patient’s financial responsibility may be higher in such cases.

Health insurance and wisdom teeth removal

Coverage details

While health insurance plans typically focus on medical treatment rather than dental care, some health insurance policies do provide coverage for wisdom tooth removal. This coverage is generally reserved for cases where the extraction is deemed medically necessary. Before assuming that health insurance will cover the cost of wisdom teeth removal, it is crucial to review the specific coverage details of the insurance plan.

Medical necessity criteria

Health insurance coverage for wisdom tooth removal is usually determined based on certain medical necessity criteria established by the insurance provider. This may include factors such as the severity of impaction, associated infections or diseases, and the potential for future complications if the teeth are left untreated. The dentist or oral surgeon will need to provide the necessary documentation and evidence to show that the extraction is medically necessary according to the criteria outlined by the health insurance plan.

Factors influencing coverage

Age restrictions

Some insurance plans may have age restrictions on coverage for wisdom tooth removal. For example, dental insurance may only cover wisdom teeth extraction for individuals under a certain age, typically under 26. This restriction is often based on the assumption that the teeth will have fully developed or erupted after a certain age, making extraction unnecessary. Health insurance plans may also have similar age restrictions based on their medical necessity criteria.

Pre-existing conditions

Pre-existing dental or medical conditions can also influence coverage for wisdom teeth removal. If an individual has a pre-existing condition related to the wisdom teeth or oral health, such as infection or gum disease, the insurance coverage may be more likely to include the extraction as part of the treatment plan. However, the specific coverage and extent of benefits will depend on the terms and conditions of the insurance plan. It is important to review the language of the insurance policy to understand how pre-existing conditions are considered.

Non-medically necessary extraction

If a wisdom tooth extraction is not deemed medically necessary, insurance coverage may be limited or nonexistent. Some dental insurance plans may classify the removal of wisdom teeth for preventive or cosmetic purposes as non-medically necessary, resulting in reduced or no coverage. Health insurance plans may also exclude coverage for non-medically necessary procedures. It is important to check with the insurance provider to understand how they define and cover non-medically necessary extractions.

Out-of-pocket costs


Co-pays are a common component of dental and health insurance plans. A co-pay is the fixed amount that an individual is responsible for paying out of pocket for each covered procedure or visit. The amount of the co-pay can vary depending on the insurance plan and the specific treatment being received. When it comes to wisdom teeth removal, individuals may be required to pay a co-pay for the extraction procedure itself, as well as any associated consultations or follow-up visits.


Deductibles are another factor that can affect the out-of-pocket costs associated with wisdom tooth removal. A deductible is the annual amount that an individual must pay before the insurance coverage kicks in. Depending on the specific insurance plan, individuals may need to meet their deductible before the insurance starts covering the costs of wisdom tooth extraction. It is important to review the insurance policy to understand the deductible amount and how it applies to oral surgeries such as wisdom tooth removal.

Annual maximums

Many insurance plans also have annual maximums, which refers to the maximum amount of coverage provided by the insurance plan within a specific year. The annual maximum can vary depending on the insurance provider and plan. If the cost of wisdom tooth removal exceeds the annual maximum, the individual may be responsible for the remaining expenses. Understanding the annual maximum can help individuals plan for potential out-of-pocket costs and make informed decisions about their insurance coverage.

Tips for maximizing insurance coverage

Verify coverage

Before proceeding with wisdom tooth removal, it is essential to verify the coverage provided by the insurance plan. Contacting the insurance provider or reviewing the plan documentation can help individuals understand the extent of coverage, any limitations or restrictions, and the steps required to obtain coverage. This can help individuals plan ahead, budget for any potential out-of-pocket costs, and avoid unexpected expenses.

Choose an in-network provider

Whenever possible, selecting an in-network dental or health care provider can help maximize insurance coverage. In-network providers have agreed to accept negotiated rates from the insurance company, resulting in lower out-of-pocket costs for the patient. Before scheduling a wisdom tooth extraction, individuals should check with their insurance provider to identify in-network dentists or oral surgeons in their area. This can help minimize the financial burden associated with the procedure.

Obtain pre-authorization

If the dental insurance plan requires pre-authorization for wisdom tooth removal, it is important to follow the necessary steps and submit the required documentation. Failure to obtain pre-authorization may result in reduced or denied coverage. The dental office or oral surgeon can assist in navigating the pre-authorization process and ensure that all necessary information is submitted to the insurance provider for review. By obtaining pre-authorization, individuals can have a clearer understanding of their financial obligations and potential coverage.

Alternative options for uninsured individuals

Discount dental plans

For individuals without dental insurance coverage, discount dental plans can provide an alternative option for reducing the cost of wisdom tooth removal. These plans typically involve paying an annual or monthly fee to access discounted rates for dental procedures. While discount dental plans are not true insurance, they can help individuals save money on various dental treatments, including wisdom tooth extraction. It is important to carefully review the details and limitations of any discount dental plan before opting for this alternative.

Payment plans

Uninsured individuals who are unable to afford the upfront cost of wisdom tooth removal may explore payment plans offered by dental offices or oral surgeons. These payment plans allow for the cost of the procedure to be divided into manageable monthly installments, making the treatment more affordable over time. Before agreeing to a payment plan, it is advisable to inquire about any interest or fees associated with the arrangement. Carefully considering the terms and conditions of a payment plan can help individuals make an informed decision about their financial responsibilities.


The coverage of wisdom teeth removal by insurance plans can vary depending on the type of insurance and the specific policy. Dental insurance may provide coverage for the extraction, while health insurance may cover it if deemed medically necessary. Understanding the coverage details, pre-authorization requirements, and factors influencing coverage can help individuals navigate the insurance landscape and make informed decisions about their oral health. For uninsured individuals, alternative options such as discount dental plans and payment plans can provide opportunities to access affordable wisdom tooth removal. By proactively managing the removal of wisdom teeth, individuals can prevent future complications and maintain optimal oral health.