What You Need to Know About Your Child’s 6-Year Molars

Our Dental Blog | Dental Tips | 01.27.2022

They grow up so fast, don’t they? One minute, they’re all goo-goo-gaga and gums and the next thing you know, they’re driving themselves off to university and complaining about the price of gas. Ok, maybe we skipped some important milestones along the way. Baby’s first steps, baby’s first words… baby’s first adult teeth!

Even though your child has only recently ditched their diapers, they’re already starting to see the emergence of the teeth that they’ll have until it’s time for dentures. Taking good care of these first permanent teeth is critical to ensuring your child’s future dental and oral health and creating that perfect 32-teeth smile.

Permanent dentition—or what we commonly refer to as permanent teeth or adult teeth—begins to form in most children around the age of 6 or 7. For most children, the emergence of their 6-year molars will be their first experience with teething since they were an infant and they won’t have any recollection of the experience.

Tooth eruption—the clinical term for teeth breaching the surface of the gums and entering the mouth—can be a painful and unsettling experience for children. It can also be exciting and an opportunity to instill good dental hygiene habits in your child that will last a lifetime.

6-year molars have a massive impact on the shape of your child’s face and their dental occlusion. As such, parents will want to know all they can about the eruption of those adult molars in their child’s mouth—even if only so they can answer the endless stream of questions that will inevitably come their way.

Timing is Everything

At times, raising your child can feel like a race against other parents. Whose child started grabbing first? Whose child started speaking first? Which child started crawling or walking or running first?

It’s easy to get caught up in these “baby-races” and forget that every child develops in their own good time and for their own good reasons. This is particularly true when it comes to teething and the development of your child’s adorable smile.

6-year molars got their name because, generally, these teeth erupt between the ages of 6 and 7. That’s not to say, however, that your child’s first set of adult molars will make their debut at that time. Or even that they’ll come out together.

Your child’s 6-year molars might just as easily be 5-year molars or 8-year molars. And, much like with their unpredictable growth spurts, there’s not much you can do to speed up or slow down the process. The timing of the 6-year molar eruption has more to do with genetics than anything else.

It’s not necessarily all too important when these molars arrive so much as how they arrive. Nevertheless, if you’re concerned that your child’s 6-year molars are coming in too early or hiding beneath the gums for too long, consult your pediatric dentist. Treehouse Dental offers safe and effective dental X-rays for children to put any of your concerns to rest.

What to Look Out For

It can be a little difficult to know when your child’s 6-year molars start coming in. Even though your child will likely be talking—and talking, and talking and talking—when these molars do arrive, they may not have the knowledge to effectively communicate what they’re experiencing. Not many 6-year-olds can string together the sentence, “I’m experiencing mild to severe discomfort and pain on my lower mandible as a result of tooth eruption in the formation of my permanent dentition.” But how cute would it be if they did?

Parents could go rooting around in their child’s mouth looking for little dental crowns beneath their gums but that’s likely to end in a scene re-enacted from Jaws. Fortunately, your child will exhibit symptoms when their 6-year molars erupt.

  • Swollen Gums

Parents will likely be able to see some swollen gums when 6-year molars come in. In some cases, children may even experience swollen cheeks. Your child will likely complain about pain or discomfort when chewing, especially when chewing hard foods. Warm salt water rinses are a great way to provide temporary relief from the pain of inflamed gums and reduce the chance of infection.

If the swelling appears abnormally large, parents can reach out to their child’s pediatric dentist.

  • Jaw and Ear Pain

Our teeth are just one small part of a larger and interconnected system. The pain caused by tooth eruption can radiate outwards to affect jaw muscles and even ears. Headaches associated with teething are also not uncommon.

Fortunately, as long as the erupting teeth are doing so correctly, the pain will be temporary. Even so, it can be overwhelming for a small child. Parents can provide their brave little warriors with over-the-counter painkillers as prescribed on the packaging. If the pain persists for more than a week or if parents have been administering over-the-counter painkillers to their children for two days, it’s better to call in the cavalry—a.k.a. a pediatric dentist.

  • Flu-like Symptoms

Some children may experience flu-like symptoms when they are teething. Runny noses, fevers, chills, and even diarrhea are not uncommon. Though these symptoms might be frightening for children and parents alike, they are not cause for immediate concern. Nevertheless, if the symptoms persist or worsen as opposed to ameliorating over time, it’s worth a trip to the pediatric dentist’s office.

  • Other Symptoms

Everyone experiences teething differently and even common symptoms can have unusual knock-on symptoms. Children experiencing pain or discomfort may also experience disrupted sleep patterns, irritability, vomiting, drooling, facial rashes, and/or excessive rubbing and itching of the ears.

The key for parents is simply to pay attention to their child’s behaviour and to be responsive. All symptoms associated with 6-year molar eruption should be temporary and relatively mild. More so than anything else, during this process, children are seeking reassurance from their parents.

The Molars Are In

Once your child’s 6-year molars come in, the task of dental care becomes even more important. These aren’t primary teeth and, with the proper care, won’t be falling out any time soon. Still, kids are kids and even dentists expect that, from time to time, they’ll “forget” to brush their teeth before bed. Once the molars are in, parents can provide their child with the added security of dental sealants to reduce the risk of tooth decay, cavities, and infection. Doing the same when 12-year molars erupt will go a long way in protecting your child’s smile as they grow older.

Schedule your child’s appointment with Treehouse Dental today—because before you know it, they’ll be scheduling their own appointments.

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