The four wisdom teeth, those farthest back in both the upper and lower jaw, usually erupt between the age of 17 and 21, sometimes as late as 25, and occasionally not at all. Non-emergence is not normally a problem because there are no symptoms.
A wisdom tooth which emerges at an angle to its neighbour can trap food, which then causes gum infection and a nasty taste in the mouth. More seriously, a wisdom tooth may become impacted, unable to emerge because the tooth next to it is in the way; this causes a pocket in the gum in which food tends to accumulate, leading to pericoronitis (infection and swelling of the gum, an unpleasant taste, and pain when biting).
In most cases, an impacted wisdom tooth is treated by giving paracetamol and antibiotics to reduce pain and infection, then by extraction under general anaesthetic. For appropriate homeopathic remedies, see Toothache or select a remedy from the list following.
Specific remedies to be taken every 6 hours for up to 3 days until dental appointment can be made
- Shooting, piercing pains made worse by cold air, food, or noise Calcarea 30c
- Where left upper molars are most affected, with warm sensation in jaw Fluoric ac. 30c
- Pain from erupting wisdom tooth, worse at night, forcing person to get up and walk about Magnesia carb. 30c
Self-help: To prevent infection, rinse mouth 4 times daily with Hypericum and Calendula solution (5 drops of each mother tincture to 0.25 litre [1/2 pint] boiled cooled water) or with salt solution (1 teaspoon salt to 0.25 litre [1/2 pint]).