What is the cost of wisdom teeth removal in the UK? Wisdom teeth are aptly named, not because they confer wisdom per se, but rather due to the fact that they arise last inside the oral cavity as a person attains maturity between the ages of 17-25. Because they are the last teeth to break through the surface of gums, they can find themselves in a non-functional or partially exposed position, a problem amplified by lack of space in jaws. This is referred to as an impaction, which may be affecting a singular tooth or all four wisdom teeth. If conditions are favorable with no discomfort, one would find no reason to have them removed and is something also advocated strongly by guidelines for dentists.
In particular situations however, they have a tendency to inflame the region repeatedly and warrant removal. Consequently, based on a study by Kings College it was deduced that 80% of UK’s population have wisdom teeth removed before the age of seventy. Naturally, such a common surgical procedure does not come without the costs of removal associated with it. Moreover, cost of wisdom teeth removal in the UK are, as with any surgical procedure, tied with an array of factors influencing it.
But what are these factors and how is the cost of removal of wisdom teeth so different within UK?
When to Seek Guidance from Dentist for Removal of Wisdom Teeth
In the gold standard guidelines by the National Institute of Health Care and Excellence (NICE), published in 2000, it stated that impactions if causing no problems, may be left without removal. Nevertheless, patients who are experiencing wisdom tooth decay, recurrent diseases of the gum and soft tissues surrounding the tooth, infections leading to systemic symptoms of fever and soft tissue swellings may be then consented for removal.
Thus, a patient experiencing one or more of these issues may seek consultation from an oral health care practitioner in their primary care. In the first instance, they may be given palliative therapy but the guidelines state if the episodes of disease recur or decay has progressed to an unsalvageable degree then the dentist removes the tooth or refers to a specialist to do so. Invariably, the decision to remove the tooth by the dentist themselves or referral to specialist is based on complexity of removal and that in turn affects the cost of tooth removal.
NHS Dental treatment costs for removal of wisdom teeth
UK citizens have NHS treatments for medical care given free of cost however, every citizen is required to pay a fee towards the cost of care for dental services under the NHS. Subsequently, patients pay the Band 2 level of cost for the removal of teeth, if they choose to have one or more wisdom tooth removed under NHS services. People under 18 are exempt from payment and if referral to the hospital is required, the cost is handled by the NHS. It is pertinent to add that, a full evaluation is done by the dentist and x-rays are taken before progressing to treatment for removal of wisdom teeth. This is done under NHS Band 1 fee £22.70.
If referral is made to an NHS dentist, patients only need pay one charge under Band 2. Nonetheless, if further services are required such as sedation, that involves a greater cost. Consequently, patients may be charged more. Additionally, referral to a private dentist or oral surgeon would involve private dental fee wholly different from NHS bands of dental treatment costs.
NHS band costs are also variable dependent on which part of UK a patient is seeking wisdom tooth removal. As of April 2019, NHS costs have risen by 5% and in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic, costs have further increased to include PPE (personal protective equipment) and Aerosol Generating Procedures costs. These are procedures that generate aerosols from the mouth such as the use of drill in the mouth and include wisdom teeth removal. In England, Band 2 NHS fee is £62.10. In Wales it is £46. Scotland and Ireland charge a percentage of dentist fee up to £384.
Private dental costs for removal of wisdom teeth
Cost of wisdom teeth removal in UK’s private dental clinics is based on a number of factors. The cost of removal is exclusive of the initial consultation fee and x-rays. These average £20-120 and £5-40 respectively. In some instances, the consultation fee goes towards the cost of entire treatment should the patient wish to have the removal done at the same practice. The average cost of less complex tooth removal ranges upwards of £200. More complex tooth removal cost begins from £300 to £950 dependent upon the clinic and dentist chosen. Additionally, some private clinics provide sedative services to highly anxious patients and include the overall cost of sedation and post-operative recovery care as well.
To summarize, cost of wisdom teeth removal in UK private clinics is not only dependent on complexity but also the dentist or oral surgeon chosen and the location of practices. An example of this would be that dental practices in London typically charge more than practices in the rest of the country.
NHS vs Private; Which one to choose, considering costs?
Choosing between NHS and Private dentistry is dependent mostly on the individual seeking to find a service that best suits their individual needs. NHS dentistry is the perfect balance between finance and treatment of the highest standards. Private dentistry may offer a smoother tailor made experience as appointment lengths are longer and often referral is within their own practice for complex cases. General Dental Council (GDC) regulates both NHS and private dentistry. Therefore both seek the highest standards of patient care and excellence. Most often, private and NHS dentistry can be undertaken within the same practice if they also happen to be registered with the NHS. It is up to the patient to decide what would be preferable.
Undoubtedly, it remains clear that the cost of wisdom tooth removal in the UK, simple or complex, rests on the higher end of the spectrum. But whilst private dentistry may offer a more seamless experience, most people prefer the financial convenience of NHS dentistry in the UK.