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What to Expect for your Child’s First Adult Teeth

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Teething can be a painful process for young children, and a confusing time for parents, and the process doesn’t end when your child’s last baby tooth arrives. Here’s what parents can expect from their child’s first adult teeth.

The “6-Year” Molars 

The first adult teeth to emerge are almost always the first molars on the bottom and top rows of teeth, behind your child’s 2 year molars. These molars are often called “6-year” molars because they typically arrive between the ages of 6 and 7. Sometimes, parents mistake 6-year molars for primary teeth because they arrive so early. However, they are permanent teeth, and need to be cared for as such. Baby teeth and adult teeth both require care and attention for a healthy smile.

6-Year Molar Concerns 

Your child will most likely experience some discomfort and sometimes, painful symptoms as their first adult molars arrive. Symptoms include: headaches, jaw pain, swelling, cheek biting, and sometimes a low-grade fever. If your child is experiencing any discomfort near their 6-year molars, have them gently massage their gums with a damp toothbrush, and eating and drinking cold, soft foods. They can also swish around warm salt water to combat soreness and swelling, or take some children’s ibuprofen for more severe pain. 

Eating with 6-Year Molars 

Tooth and jaw pain can become a more common occurrence when your child is getting their first adult teeth. As a parent, you can help ease their teething pain by being mindful of their diet. Try to minimize the time they have to spend grinding hard foods with their molars that may cause them pain. Instead of hard, crunchy or zesty foods, try to use more gentle texture and foods like mashed potatoes or mashed vegetables, chilled applesauce, smoothies, or a soft chicken salad.

When Will All of Their Adult Teeth Arrive? 

The rest of your child’s adult teeth include 4 central incisors, 4 lateral incisors, 8 premolars, 4 canines and 12 molars. Each of these teeth arrives at different rates, but most arrive by the age of 13. The third molars, or wisdom teeth arrive between 17 and 21 years.

Bonus: Wisdom Teeth 

The last permanent teeth that arrive are the third molars, or wisdom teeth. Because they are the furthest teeth in the back of the mouth, wisdom teeth are often not needed for chewing and processing food, and most are actually removed so they don’t negatively impact a smile. Wisdom teeth can be painful as they arrive, and should be x-rayed by your child’s dentist to determine the right course of action. 

Visit Our Office 

It’s normal for your child to experience some discomfort as their first adult teeth arrive. Visit our office for more information about growing a healthy adult smile, and how you can help guide your child to oral health success.


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