Is Oral Surgery Covered By Medical Insurance? Decoding How It Works

The realm of healthcare insurance can be a complex one, especially when it comes to dental procedures.

When oral surgery enters the picture, confusion often arises: Is it covered by medical insurance, or is dental insurance the only option?

This article delves into this topic, exploring the intricacies of medical insurance, oral surgery, and their potential overlap in coverage.

Is Oral Surgery Covered By Medical Insurance

Is oral surgery covered by medical insurance?

Whether or not your medical insurance covers oral surgery depends on two main factors:

  • The type of oral surgery you need
  • The reason you need the surgery

Medical insurance typically covers oral surgery if it’s considered medically necessary. This means the surgery is needed to treat a condition that affects your overall health, not just your dental health.

Here are some examples of medically necessary oral surgery:

  • Complex wisdom tooth removal
  • Surgery to treat facial fractures
  • Biopsies to diagnose oral cancer
  • Reconstructive surgery after an accident or injury

Medical insurance usually won’t cover routine dental procedures, such as simple tooth extractions or dental implants for cosmetic reasons.

Understanding Medical Insurance

Medical insurance acts as a financial safety net, helping individuals manage the often-high costs associated with medical treatments and procedures.

These plans typically involve monthly premiums paid by the policyholder, with the insurance company covering a portion of the costs incurred during an illness or injury.

How Medical Insurance Works:

  • Networks: Most medical insurance plans operate within a network of doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers. In-network providers have pre-negotiated rates with the insurance company, resulting in lower out-of-pocket costs for patients.
  • Deductibles: A deductible is the amount a policyholder must pay out of pocket before the insurance company begins sharing the cost of covered services.
  • Co-pays: Some plans have co-pays, which are fixed dollar amounts paid by the patient for certain services, like office visits.
  • Coinsurance: After meeting the deductible, coinsurance applies. This is a percentage (usually 10% to 20%) of the covered costs that the policyholder shares with the insurance company.
  • Out-of-pocket Maximum: This is the maximum amount a policyholder pays in a calendar year for covered services after meeting the deductible.

What Is Oral Surgery?

Oral surgery encompasses a broad spectrum of procedures performed by a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS).

These procedures often go beyond the scope of routine dental care offered by general dentists.

Examples of Oral Surgery Procedures:

  • Complex wisdom tooth removal
  • Jaw surgery
  • Dental implant placement
  • Oral cancer surgery:
  • Facial trauma reconstruction

Oral Surgery vs Routine Dentistry

General dentists can handle most routine dental procedures, like fillings, cleanings, and straightforward extractions.

Oral surgery, however, often involves more complex procedures requiring advanced training, specialized equipment, and operating room facilities.

When Medical Insurance Might Cover Oral Surgery

Medical insurance coverage for oral surgery hinges on a crucial factor: medical necessity.

If the surgery is deemed necessary to treat a medical condition affecting your overall health, medical insurance may come into play.

  • Impacted wisdom teeth with risk of infection or nerve damage
  • Facial fractures that require reconstruction for proper function
  • Biopsies or surgery for diagnosing and treating oral cancer
  • Reconstructive surgery after an accident or injury impacting facial bones or function

The Benefits of Covered Oral Surgery


Financial Security and Peace of Mind

Having oral surgery covered by medical insurance can be a significant financial advantage. Consider the following benefits:

  • Reduced Out-of-pocket Costs: With medical insurance sharing the financial burden, you’ll pay less out of pocket for the surgery.
  • Improved Access to Care: Knowing insurance might cover the cost can make it easier to pursue necessary oral surgery without financial constraints.
  • Peace of Mind: The financial security provided by insurance reduces stress associated with unexpected medical bills.

However, it’s crucial to remember that even with medical insurance coverage, you might still be responsible for out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, co-pays, and coinsurance.

Is oral surgery covered by medical insurance? Alternative Options

Dental Insurance

Most dental insurance plans offer coverage for various procedures, including some oral surgeries considered routine dental care.

However, coverage specifics vary depending on your plan. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Types of Dental Insurance Plans:

    • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO): Similar to medical insurance PPOs, you’ll have lower costs when using in-network providers.
    • Dental Maintenance Organization (DMO): These plans require using specific dentists within the network for maximum coverage.
    • Indemnity Plans: These plans offer more freedom in choosing a dentist but typically have annual maximums and reimburse a percentage of covered costs.
  • Coverage for Oral Surgery in Dental Plans:

    • Dental insurance might cover a portion of the costs for procedures like wisdom teeth removal (depending on complexity) or certain types of jaw surgery related to bite correction.
    • It’s essential to check your specific plan details for covered procedures and limitations regarding annual maximums and pre-existing conditions.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) or Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

These employer-sponsored accounts let you set aside pre-tax dollars to cover qualified medical and dental expenses, including some oral surgery costs.

  • FSA: In an FSA, funds typically roll over for a grace period but must be utilized by the end of the plan year or forfeited.
  • HSA: Funds in an HSA roll over year after year, allowing you to accumulate savings for future healthcare needs. However, HSAs are only available with high-deductible health insurance plans.

Negotiating with Your Provider

Sometimes, directly negotiating with the oral surgeon or surgical facility might lead to a lower fee. Additionally, some providers offer payment plans to help manage costs.


This is a third-party financing option specifically designed for medical and dental procedures. It allows you to spread the cost of your surgery into monthly payments.

Exploring Charity or Financial Assistance Programs

Certain hospitals or dental clinics may offer financial assistance programs to eligible patients who struggle to afford necessary healthcare, including oral surgery.

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