Wisdom tooth removal in Singapore
Image adapted from: WhatClinic
If you’re experiencing pulsating pains from the corners of your jaw, there’s a high chance it’s your gang of wisdom teeth nudging you into adulthood. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you won’t have to yank them out to stop the pain. But most of us will have to remove at least one someday. If or when it’ll even happen, we can never predict.
Either way, our kiasu Singaporean selves would benefit from a guide on how to prep for this rite of passage. From why you should go for a wisdom tooth extraction to what to expect from the actual procedure, read on to ease your process.
Reasons for a wisdom tooth extraction
Contrary to popular belief, even if your wisdom teeth are not causing any problems, you might still have to remove them. A good starting point to finding out if it’s necessary or not, is to go for a dental checkup.
If you’re within ages 16 to 19, this is the best time to check if you need an extraction because your wisdom teeth will still be at a stage of infancy. The roots and bones of these emerging teeth have yet to fully form so it’ll be much easier and far less painful to yank out.
Removing a wisdom tooth at a tender age also reduces the chances of recurring dental problems and a speedier recovery from the procedure.
Image credit: Authority Dental
But if you’re already experiencing discomfort at the back of your mouth, it’s likely that your wisdom teeth are not growing out properly. And if you don’t let the pros handle it, that’s an unwanted welcome to an array of infections and gum disease.
But here’s some good news: if you’re already older than 30 and you’ve never experienced any discomfort with your wisdom teeth, you might get to play a Uno Skip Card on extraction for good.
Where to get a wisdom tooth extraction
There are many private clinics and government institutions that offer a wisdom tooth removal but what sets the two options apart is the cost and waiting time.
Government Institutions – hospitals and polyclinics
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For government hospitals and clinics, a normal extraction procedure can cost from $600 to $825 and this essentially covers everything from consultation to post-op medication.
A few places you can consider visiting include government hospitals like National University Hospital and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, as well as specialist institutions like National Dental Centre of Singapore. A hospital service would encompass an all-in-one treatment, from the arrangement of the procedure itself to the post-op follow ups.
Polyclinics can provide you the same service. The plus point is that their branches are conveniently scattered across the island, so heading to your appointment won’t be another pain to worry about. To make an appointment, you will have to pay a fully-refundable deposit of $8.
Another difference to take note of: hospitals will have the necessary equipment ready while polyclinics and private clinics may have to refer you to other centres for x-rays and even the procedure itself. So you may want to go with a hospital if you’re not keen on making multiple trips.
Private dental clinics
For shorter waiting time, your best bet is to go to a private clinic. It can cost you anywhere between $400 to $2140 depending on the complexity of your case, the facilities and qualified surgeons available as compared to the usual dentists for the procedure.
It is relatively pricier but for the faster and more personalised service, a private practice may be worth that extra buck.
Payment methods and claims
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On average, the damage inflicted on your wallet can amount to a whopping $700 per tooth in government-recognised institutions and $1500 per tooth in private dental clinics. If it’s a simple extraction process, you’ll be forking out less. But if you’re scheduled for surgery, it can cost more depending on how complicated the the situation is.
Other factors that will affect the total cost include your age and the position of the tooth – whether it’s buried within the bone or it’s underneath your gum tissue, how close it is to your nerves and its root shape.
If you’re putting off the surgery because of the financial blow, know that it is possible to claim partial payment through Medisave. Every Singaporean is entitled to withdraw a basic $300 for an outpatient day surgery, but the total amount claimable really depends on the complexity of the procedure. For example, having to extract 2 impacted wisdom teeth that are blocked and infected means that the withdrawal amount for a subsidised cost will range from $450 to $1850.
For a better estimate of the cost, it’s always best to ask your dentist in advance.
Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) subsidies
Only for simple extractions, Singapore citizens enrolled under CHAS will be able to enjoy extra subsidies, ranging from $28.50 to $68.50 per extraction.
Pioneer Generation subsidies
For Singapore Citizens born before 1950 or have pledged their citizenship since 1986 or earlier, they’ll be able to flash their Pioneer Generation card and enjoy a subsidy of $38.50 to $78.50 per extraction for simple procedures.
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Different types of wisdom tooth extraction procedures
Image credit: Authority Dental
There are 2 main types of procedures: 1) a simple extraction and 2) a surgical extraction for wisdom teeth that are impacted or only partially erupted. A good benchmark for the severity of your case would be the level of pain you’re experiencing.
Simple extractions are almost like any other routine visit to the dentist. The big difference however is that you will be administered a local anesthesia to numb the gum and that’ll keep you mostly pain-free for a good hour or so per side.
A wisdom tooth that’s impacted and pushing against its neighbouring tooth
Image credit: @clinicamaxilofacialgdl
A surgical extraction is usually only reserved for more complex situations like a wisdom tooth erupting in close proximity to a nerve – one of the main culprits for the grave pain you’re feeling. Other cases include an irregular root shape and a completely submerged wisdom tooth in the gum.
In the case that you have a very low pain tolerance and you’ve been scheduled to undergo an intricate procedure, you can choose to be sedated or be placed under general anesthesia.
During the surgery itself, you can expect your gums to be lifted to uncover the wisdom tooth and its roots against the surrounding bone and nerves. The tooth will then be carefully removed before having the gums stitched back to their original position.
Preparing for wisdom tooth removal
An x-ray of impacted wisdom teeth
Image credit: Crossroads Dental Group
What usually happens during the first consultation is a verification of your medical and dental history to make sure that the surgery does not run into any complications. Depending on the facilities of the clinic you’re at, an X-ray may also be taken for a better assessment of the situation.
Make sure to arrange for someone to take you home after the procedure because you don’t want to lose your way while still being high from the anesthesia.
Wisdom tooth surgery recovery tips
Handling excessive bleeding
There are a few symptoms that you may experience immediately after the procedure – the most common being bleeding. You will be given pieces of gauze to bite on to stop any excessive loss of blood.
As an extra precaution, you might also want to put a towel on your pillow in case the wound bleeds in your sleep and you drool a puddle of blood on your pillowcase in the morning.
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Avoid using straws or gargling rigorously
When handling liquids in your mouth, you shouldn’t gargle rigorously or even drink using a straw because this may cause the blood clots to loosen and allow bleeding to occur again. On the same note, you shouldn’t spit continuously even if you can’t stand the taste of blood. Keeping the blood clots in place will help speed up the healing process.
Dealing with facial swelling and bruising
Other side-effects include facial swelling and bruising over the next 2 to 3 days. This is the body’s natural healing process and it will most likely subside within the same week. Your jaw might also still feel stiff over the few days.
To hasten the recovery process, try placing an ice pack on your cheek to curb the swelling or apply a moist hot pack to relieve the soreness.
Going on a soft diet
Your jaw will be too sore to take mouthfuls of food so going on a soft diet is your only option. This means soups, blended food or mashed anything that’s soft enough to skip all the chewing. Add a nutritious fix to speed up the healing process. Foods like Greek yoghurt are not only easy to consume – they’re high in protein and vitamins and minerals such as zinc to aid in wound healing.
Maintaining good oral hygiene
Don’t give in to laziness – follow your dentist’s instructions and maintain good oral hygiene throughout your recovery period. You’ll want to be extra meticulous in brushing your teeth especially after meals, to keep the risk of contracting an infection at a minimal. Mouthwashes will be your bestfriend when it comes to sanitising areas you can’t brush, so stock ‘em up!
For smokers, take a break from all that puffing because it will cause pain and expose your wound to infection.
It is common to be given 5 days of medical leave in Singapore but the actual recovery depends on a few factors such as the body’s response to the surgery, age and the extensiveness of the surgery.
While there have been instances where patients were able to resume their daily life almost immediately, it is best to clock in as much rest as possible and avoid any strenuous activity at least for the first 2 to 3 days. But if your pain tolerance is on the lower side, you can always ask your dentist for stronger medication or more rest days.
Wisdom tooth extraction in Singapore
A visit to the dentist isn’t something all of us look forward to, what more having to extract your wisdom tooth while at it. But if you’re feeling pain and what to get to the bottom of it, the dentist will be your saviour. After all, the sooner you get any problems checked out, the sooner you’re set for a healthier set of teeth in the future!