How much does a tooth removal cost with and without dental insurance?

Uninsured patients must fund 100% of the expenses out-of-pocket, which can range from $75 for a simple extraction, to $7,000 or more for a surgical procedure with bone grafting and implants.

Individuals with coverage already in force spend far less, depending on the features of their plan: deductible, coinsurance, annual maximum, and network.

Discount plans make it easy to find the low-price provider, and financing helps those lacking cash – if you do not live near a free clinic.

Meanwhile, buying a new dental policy today could have a huge impact when the time comes to fill in the hole in your smile.

The Most Affordable Places

Looking for the cheapest place to get your tooth pulled can sometimes help low-income patients who can delay treatment and are lucky enough to live close to a free clinic.

The rest of us can use a combination of discount plans and financing to identify and pay the lowest-cost provider in our local area.

No Money

Dental financing programs provide an avenue for uninsured patients who need a tooth pulled but do not have enough money in savings to reimburse the provider. If your annual income is too high, you may not be able to find a place to perform an extraction free or at a steep discount.

However, a steady job and sufficient earnings could make you an ideal candidate for a loan. If approved, the lender can deposit funds directly to your checking account, enabling you to set an appointment with a local dentist to relieve your pain.

Free Clinics

Finding free clinics is a hit or miss proposition when looking for the most affordable provider to remove a tooth. Both charitable organizations and dental schools have limitations that may not be ideal for a patient suffering in pain or dealing with a dangerous infection or abscess.

Charities

Many charities are faith-based organizations or churches that rely on the generosity of donors to offer no-cost dental services to low-income patients.

As such, these free clinics serve a small geographic region, have limited resources, can help only a small group of people, and have a large backlog of people waiting for their turn in the chair.

  • Smiles of Hope
  • Dentistry From the Heart
  • Donated Dental Services (DDS)

Dental Schools

A local dental school can sometimes provide patients with free non-emergency extractions of dead, broken, chipped, and or decaying teeth. Students need to practice their future craft under the supervision of a trained professional. Therefore, they often offer treatment at no cost to uninsured individuals in financial need.

The American Dental Association publishes a list of accredited schools across the country.[2] You may get lucky to find a program in your backyard with an opening without an extremely long queue.

Emergency Room

Many people stop by their local emergency room, hoping they can get a tooth pulled free of charge. By federal law, hospitals must provide care to all patients with acute medical needs regardless of their ability to pay.[1] Also, many states have regulations mandating charity (uncompensated) care for low-income households who are uninsured or ineligible for government benefits.

However, medical doctors staff hospital emergency rooms – not dentists. Physicians do not have the training to perform extractions but can prescribe antibiotics to address infections, and medications to relieve pain.

Therefore, you could get to see a doctor at the ER who can write prescriptions pro bono (if qualified for charity care), but will still need a local dentist to remove your molar, bicuspid, or incisor.

Discount Plans

Enrolling in a dental discount plan is perhaps the surest way to find the lowest-cost place to have your tooth pulled. These discount arrangements give patients access to a network of providers who have agreed in advance to charge less for a variety of services.

Discount plans allow you to get treatment without a waiting period. Open up the search bar on your web browser, where you can easily find several programs to compare. Sign up online and then peruse the list of participating providers in your area.

The discount plans do charge an annual fee. However, the savings on the removal combined with future treatments to replace a missing molar, bicuspid, or incisor can reward you handsomely.

Estimating Costs of Tooth Extraction

An average figure is a good starting point when determining the cost of tooth extraction. However, a typical number lacks the precision needed to budget accurately.

The amount each patient must spend could range widely depending on the type of procedure, the choice for replacement, and whether you opt for same-day dentures to complete your smile.

With Insurance

The cost of tooth removal with dental insurance has two starkly different answers. If you already have a plan in place, an estimate of the benefits statement provides the most precise figure. However, insured patients looking to buy a new plan must follow a different calculation.

  • For covered members: A dentist can submit a treatment plan to the insurance company, who will respond with an estimate of the benefits statement projecting your unreimbursed expenses.
    • Deductible
    • Coinsurance
    • Annual maximum
    • Out-of-network balance billing (if applicable)
  • For uninsured people: Buying a new plan probably will not help with the extraction but could return huge dividends when you install a replacement tooth.
    • Most new plans will contain pre-existing condition clauses and or waiting periods before benefits begin, meaning they are unlikely to pay for removal
    • Buying before the pulling helps you to avoid missing tooth exclusions related to replacement options such as dentures and implants (see below)

Procedures

The types of methods needed to remove a tooth dictate how much the provider will charge. Plus, you may have to pay extra for other services[3], and you could experience complications that require further treatment.

  • Initial examination and consultation: $50 – $350
  • Periapical x-ray: $10-$30
  • Optional pain management[4]
    • Inhalation sedation (nitrous oxide): $25-$100
    • Oral sedation (pill): $150-$500
    • IV sedation (sleep): $250 – $500
    • General anesthesia (surgical): $300-$1,000
  • Antibiotics to treat infections often covered by health insurance

Simple

The typical cost of a simple (non-surgical) tooth removal without insurance ranges from $75 to $300. A general practitioner can perform a simple extraction that does not require surgery, which means you fork over less money.

However, expect the office to charge an extra $300-$450 if the dentist needs to perform emergency work after-hours, on weekends, or on the same day you call complaining of excruciating pain.

Surgical

The typical cost of surgical tooth extraction for uninsured patients ranges higher, from $150 to $600. Expect to pay more for a specialist (oral and maxillofacial surgeon) to perform these more complicated procedures.

Of course, every surgical procedure has possible side effects that could require further dental treatment. [5]  Any of these complications could add to your out-of-pocket spending significantly.

  • Prim closure sinus perforation
  • Dry socket (alveolitis)
  • Infection of the jaw bone (osteomyelitis)
  • Death of the jaw bone (osteonecrosis)
  • Excessive bleeding

Replacement

Forward-thinking patients should also budget in the cost of replacement teeth once the gums and jaw bone heals after the extraction. Uninsured individuals who buy a dental plan before the removal phase often get their reward at this point.

  • Missing tooth exclusion does not apply
  • Waiting periods expire while healing takes place

Alternatively, you could pay these estimated out-of-pocket expenses to restore your smile with supporting work and substitute choppers.

Same Day

Finally, uninsured patients thinking about the cost of extracting some of their teeth with same-day dentures should expect to pay much more – unless they can time the purchase of a dental plan correctly.

First, immediate dentures are more expensive than conventional appliances because your dentist will have to devote more time upfront on fabrications and afterward with adjustments.[6]

  • Fabrication: four to five visits for impressions, bite records, and enamel selection
  • Adjustments: relining the device as gums and bones heal

Second, a dental insurance plan could lower your out-of-pocket cost of same-day dentures but with several caveats that you should consider. For example, you may have to delay upgrading your smile.

Footnoted Sources:

[1] The Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act

[2] ADA list of schools

[3] Health Cost Helper Extractions

[4] Health Cost Helper Anesthesia

[5] Merck Manuals

[6] University of Iowa College of Dentistry