Most of us (adults) have 32 permanent teeth; 16 on both your upper and lower jaw. Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, come in at the very back of our mouth, with one at the end of each row of teeth. They usually don’t develop fully until the ages of 18 to 24. 
Unfortunately, more often than not, our jaws don't have enough space for them to erupt properly. Thus, they can often cause dental problems.
While wisdom teeth removal is one of the more common dental procedure in Singapore, people often wonder if it's necessary to extract them if they aren't causing any pain.
Wisdom tooth extraction can cost anywhere between $150 - $2,000 in Singapore
According to Dr Kumar, your fees are determined by what the procedure involves. It could be a simple wisdom tooth extraction or a more complicated wisdom tooth surgical removal.
Naturally, the level of complexity plays a big part in pricing, since doctors’ expertise, equipment, facilities and other costs have to be considered.
As expected, price ranges differ from clinic to clinic so it’s best you scope the scene before deciding on a dentist.
You may be eligible for a partial claim Medisave request
If the removal of the wisdom tooth requires surgery (like the drilling of bone to extract the tooth or broken, decayed wisdom teeth), you may be able to use Medisave on the basis of a partial claim. (better than nothing, right?)
Sedation or anaesthesia may be necessary in certain cases
Dr Kumar noted that some of his patients have requested that they undergo wisdom teeth extraction under intravenous (IV) sedation or general anaesthesia (GA).
Most of the times, it depends on how nervous the patient really is. However, there are certain complicated cases that may require IV sedation or GA for increased effectiveness.
A full assessment in the clinic coupled with an X-ray might be needed
This assessment is to determine whether your wisdom tooth needs to be removed. In severe cases, or in instances where patients wait too long for a checkup, a bad wisdom tooth could affect the 2nd molar directly in front of it. An assessment will give a clearer picture of the situation.
For more complex cases, a CT scan will be done
The scan is performed as part of an extensive diagnostic workup. This is especially crucial if a wisdom tooth is extremely close to the nerve that supplies sensation to the lip (you can imagine how meticulous the doctor will have to be).
In addition, it lets the doctor plan how best to remove the tooth with the least risk possible.
Wisdom tooth extraction can either take 3 minutes or 2 hours
According to Dr Kumar, a wisdom tooth can be removed in as quickly as 3 to 7 minutes or as long as 2 hours, depending on severity. This usually also affects the recovery period.
The quicker the surgery, the quicker the recovery rate. There's less swelling and, for the most part, less pain during a quick extraction.
Pain management post-surgery is an important process
Post-operative management of pain is an integral part of the wisdom tooth removal journey.
It's pertinent that your doctor prescribes a solid course of medication and postoperative instructions after the removal procedure. This helps to ensure that there's a seamless and relatively painless road recovery process. 
Is extraction necessary even if there are no immediate problems?
Dr Kumar stated that since wisdom teeth typically erupt from 18-24 years of age, it should be fairly easy to detect any early signs of potential problems upon closer inspection.
If an OPG (a large panoramic X-ray) has been performed to check for decay or gum disease, dentists usually also comment on the status of wisdom teeth.
Through examination, doctors can confirm the likelihood of the wisdom tooth being impacted (which affects the 2nd molar at a later stage). Either way, prevention of further damage is pretty much always a good idea.
Constant checkups can increase the chances of early detection
Dr Kumar routinely does OPGs (large X-rays) at 3-year intervals for his patients whenever wisdom teeth are assessed.
Through 6 monthly examinations and cleaning sessions, a risk profile can be established based on factors like how well a patient maintains oral hygiene (especially the wisdom teeth).
Early detection really helps
Ultimately, an early assessment can save you both the pain and worry of having a bad wisdom tooth (or decay) for too long.
If you don't want any undetected surprises, it's best that you go for regular checkups and constantly consult your dentist about managing wisdom teeth.
- Your Wisdom Tooth Removal Concerns Addressed: Tips From A Dentist
- 5 Things to Ask Before A Wisdom Teeth Extraction
- Your Guide To Choosing the Right Dental Surgeon in Singapore (2020)
- The Ultimate Guide to Dealing with an Aching Wisdom Tooth in Singapore (2020)
_Article medically reviewed by Dr Kumar. Watch a video about him here:
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