The wisdom I gained from losing my wisdom teeth

Happy woman with big smile


Getting your wisdom teeth extracted involves a visit to the dentist – and sometimes even the hospital, which was the case for 33-year-old Melburnian LAURA JOHNSON. After experiencing serious pain, she discovered she needed emergency surgery. Unfortunately, she wasn’t sufficiently covered for the procedure. 

I was going through a really busy time at work. Life was very busy in general. It was just before Christmas, so I had lots of work projects to tie up, plenty of social engagements and even a couple of work trips I needed to fit in before the work year finished. I was flying out to New York the following week, too.

All of a sudden, I had this aching pain in my lower jaw. It happened quite quickly, within a day or so. My lower back gums were really puffy and inflamed and I was getting headaches almost every hour. It was so painful. I knew it was my wisdom teeth. I’d felt them coming up about six months before, but they hadn’t broken through yet.

I found a dentist close to work and booked an appointment that day. The pain was that uncomfortable that I couldn’t wait to make an appointment with my regular dentist. This dentist explained my back molars were impacted and my gums were infected. I was put on antibiotics to clear the infection, but my wisdom teeth needed to come out straight away to not only relieve the pain but also prevent further damage or infection.

It was a relatively short procedure; it was my first operation. I didn’t really ask too many questions, I think because I was so nervous. I was sent to a great local hospital where wisdom teeth extractions were one of the main procedures happening that day. Once I was in, it was a pretty streamlined process. I woke up in the hospital bed, surrounded by a handful of others who had undergone the same procedure.

I had private health insurance, but no extras at the time. If I planned a bit better I would have increased my extras to cover more dental services. It would have saved me a lot of out-of-pocket expenses. But unfortunately, not having the extras meant I wasn’t covered for most of the procedure. I was limited to what I could claim and ended paying about $2000 from my original dental visit, the procedure, hospital expenses and the check in appointments after it.

I didn’t question much as it all had to be done so quickly. Cost became a secondary factor, which I wasn’t prepared for at the time. When I found out what the bill was, I just had to take it on the chin. There was no other option. Perhaps if I was with my preferred dentist I would have felt more comfortable talking through my options and had a clearer indication around costs.

I’ve learnt my lesson. My husband’s wisdom teeth need to be removed next month, and we’re much better prepared. Now that I have a family, we do have extras with our health insurance and we try to utilise additional benefits like massage and optical cover that we can claim on. Private health insurance gives me great piece of mind, especially when it has to do with the health of my family. It may cost a little more each month, but it’s definitely worth it.


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