Especially for first-time parents, the end of the infant teething stage is usually a welcome event. It is difficult to see your little one struggling and uncomfortable. For most first-time parents, the end of teething is met with a sigh of relief that it's over until their child starts losing those baby teeth to replace them with permanent ones. What many parents don't know, though, is that your child isn't out of the teething woods yet. The first permanent molars, often called the six-year molars, will come in before your child starts losing teeth. Here's what you should know before your preschooler comes to you and says "My mouth hurts!"
When Do Six-Year Molars Come In?
Despite the name, six-year molars don't necessarily come in when your child is six years old. In fact, they can come in any time between the ages of five and seven. The eruption of these teeth is the beginning of your child's dental transition period, since these come in just before he or she will start losing baby teeth.
How Will You Know if Your Child's Discomfort Is Caused By Six-Year Molars?
If your child is between the ages of five and seven (or even reasonably close to that range), a complaint of tooth or mouth pain is likely to be the result of six-year molars coming in. A quick visit to your pediatric dentist will tell you for sure, as the x-rays will show if those teeth are moving up, but you can also check your child's gums at home.
Like when he or she was teething as an infant, your child's gums will be slightly swollen, white and maybe even sensitive to touch. As the tooth works its way up, you'll eventually see the edges of the molar visible through the gums.
It is important to note, though, that sometimes radiating pain can make it difficult for a child to pinpoint precisely where the discomfort is coming from. Your child may complain that his or her front teeth hurt or perhaps blame a tooth on the side where the molar is coming in. Don't be confused by this. When the molar pushes upward, it's squeezing into the space that's there in your child's mouth. This will put some pressure on the rest of the teeth. In addition, the pain can radiate throughout the mouth area, even spreading up to cause earaches and similar discomfort in some cases.
What Can You Do to Ease Discomfort?
Although your go-to solution for an infant was probably a cold, damp cloth or a teething ring, those aren't necessarily going to be practical for a preschooler or first-grader who is struggling with teething pain.
Instead, look to an anti-inflammatory pain reliever like ibuprofen to help soothe some of the discomfort. In addition, applying an ice pack or heating pad to the side of the jaw that hurts can help. Keep in mind that when one doesn't work, the other might. It's also important to remember that just because cold helped yesterday doesn't mean that heat won't help today. Popsicles are a great way to get something cold directly on the gums, providing rapid relief for many kids. Finally, over-the-counter teething gels and natural teething tablets can also help.
Talk with your child's dentist today if you suspect that six-year molars are about to make an appearance. He or she can help you determine the best methods for easing pain and discomfort while those teeth work their way in. In addition, x-rays can ensure that the teeth are coming in properly and might help identify any potential complications that will need to be addressed, such as crowding or impaction. For more information, contact a local dental clinic like Dental Associates PC.