When children are about 6-years-old, they start to lose their baby teeth, and their permanent teeth start to come in. This includes the molars.
Molars are the large, flat teeth located at the back of the mouth. Although molars vary in size and shape from person to person, they are the largest teeth in the mouth and are strong enough to sustain large amounts of force from chewing. Their main purpose is to grind food so it can be swallowed more easily. Two to four teeth roots anchor molars to the jawbone.
When Do Molars Come In?
The first permanent molars usually erupt between the ages of 6 and 7. This is why they are often referred to as “six-year molars.” They are among the permanent teeth that do not replace an existing primary tooth. Since these teeth are permanent, they must be cared for properly because they should last a lifetime.
Most children have 28 of their permanent teeth by the time they are 13-years-old. These include four central incisors, four lateral incisors, eight premolars, four canines and eight molars. The final permanent teeth to grow in are the third molars, called wisdom teeth. They usually begin to erupt between ages 17 and 21.
Wisdom teeth are challenging to keep clean because they are so far back in the mouth. Given today’s modern diets, they are not essential for chewing. For these reasons, many dentists recommend they be removed to prevent potential complications. In a lot of people, their jaws are not big enough to accommodate these large molars. They may even push on the existing teeth in the mouth.
Sometimes, wisdom teeth are impacted, meaning that they do not erupt which can also lead to problems. It should be noted that wisdom teeth do not always grow in. Some people never get them.
How Do You Know If Molars Are Coming In?
Growing teeth can be uncomfortable, and some kids will experience painful symptoms as their first adult molars arrive. Parents should watch for the following symptoms:
- Jaw pain.
- Swelling at the eruption site.
- Cheek biting.
- Low-grade fever.
If your child is experiencing any discomfort, have them gently massage their gums with a damp toothbrush or washcloth, eat cold, soft foods and drink cold beverages. They can also swish warm salt water to help reduce swelling. For more severe pain, you can give them children’s ibuprofen.
The important thing for parents — and kids — to remember is that the process is temporary. If you have concerns about your child’s molars coming in or any other oral health issues, you should contact your dentist.
How Should You Take Care of Molars?
It’s never too early to start creating good oral healthcare practices. So, parents should begin brushing their children’s teeth as soon as that first tooth erupts. By the time your child’s permanent molars come in, brushing and flossing should be a part of their routine.
Good Oral Care at Home
Caring for molars can be a bit of a challenge because they are harder to reach. So, parents must help young children brush and floss their teeth until they have the dexterity to reach all the teeth in the mouth.
Here are some other tips for caring for your child’s teeth:
- Brush at least twice a day — in the morning and at bedtime — and floss once a day.
- Let your child brush their own teeth so they can learn how to do it properly. However, until kids are old enough to do a thorough job, you should do the real brushing.
- Teach your children how to play safely and what to do if there is an emergency with a tooth that is broken or knocked out.
Routine Dental Checkups and Cleanings
Although most dentists recommend dental visits every six months, you should talk to your dentist about the frequency of visits for routine examinations and cleanings. Going to the dentist regularly can help spot problems with oral health earlier rather than later.
Dental sealants are a clear plastic-like material called resin that starts out in liquid form and is “painted” onto the tooth surface. Molars have deep grooves in them, making it easy for food to stick to the tooth surface. This can lead to the formation of cavities. With dental sealants, the dentist paints a resin material onto the surface of the tooth. It dries quickly, forming a hard coating that fills in the natural contours of the tooth making them smoother and easier to keep clean. Dental sealants also serve as a barrier to protect the tooth from the acids and bacteria that cause plaque and tooth decay.
We’re Here to Help
If you have questions about molars or anything that has to do with your child’s oral health, reach out and schedule an appointment at West Coast Dental today.
Healthline — 11 Ways to Keep Your Teeth Healthy
Healthline — What Are the Different Types of Teeth Called?
WebMD — Dental Health and Wisdom Teeth
Healthline — Does Everyone Have Wisdom Teeth?