Your child’s first pair of permanent molar teeth usually appear around the time they’re age 6 or 7. Because of this, they’re often called the “6-year molars.”

For some children, 6-year molars might be their first time experiencing an emerging tooth since their baby teeth came in during infancy. They’ll likely have some discomfort and gum irritation.

Keep reading to learn more about 6-year molars, how to tell when they’re coming in, and how you can help ease your child’s pain.

Your child’s 6-year molars are their first set of permanent teeth that emerge without replacing primary teeth.

  • Children usually develop their second set of molars around the age of 12 to 13.
  • The third molars, also known as wisdom teeth, may not emerge until they’re in their 20s.

The timing of permanent teeth

Every child progresses at a different rate when it comes to losing baby teeth and gaining permanent teeth. Some children may have already lost several baby teeth and had adult teeth replace them. For other children, the 6-year molars might be their first permanent tooth.

The exact age that your child’s 6-year molars emerge is largely determined by genetic factors. Studies comparing tooth emergence among family members and twins estimate that about 80 percent of the timing is due to genes.

6-year molars help determine the shape of your face

The 6-year molars help determine the shape of your child’s face. They’re highly important for aligning the top and bottom jaws. They also play a pivotal role in helping preserve the arch shape of your child’s teeth along their top and bottom jaws.

When your child’s molars get close to breaking the surface of their gum line, they may experience gum discomfort for up to about a week.

Most of the time, the new tooth will appear without complications. However, sometimes an infection may occur. If you notice white pus around the tooth, irritation that lasts more than about a week, or if your child has a fever, visit a doctor.

Here are some of the most common symptoms you can expect when your child’s 6-year molars are coming in:

Your child may not want to eat solid or tough food while their gum is sore. Offering soft and cool foods may help minimize your child’s pain while their tooth breaks through their gum. Mashed potatoes and soups both make great meal options.

Popsicles and smoothies are other great options for pain relief. You can easily make both at home as healthier alternatives to store-bought options that are often loaded with sugar.

Homemade smoothie recipe

Here’s a great healthy smoothie recipe you can make that’s loaded with monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and iron. Blend the following ingredients together until smooth.

  • 1 frozen ripe banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp. almond butter

If you want to make it sweeter, you can add a dash of honey or agave. You can also replace almond butter with peanut butter.

Homemade fruit popsicles

Here’s how to make healthy fruit popsicles to ease sore gums:

  1. Blend your child’s favorite fruit with water or a small amount of juice to make a puree.
  2. Pour the mixture in popsicle molds or tiny cups.
  3. Cover the top of the containers with a piece of foil and put a popsicle stick in each one.
  4. Freeze them overnight and they’ll be ready by morning.

Additional remedies for easing tooth eruption pain

In addition to soft and cold food, these home remedies may offer some pain relief:

  • Gum massage. Rubbing your child’s gum with wet gauze, or having them do it themselves, may help temporarily reduce pain.
  • Ice water. Drinking ice water or cold beverages might help reduce irritation.
  • Ibuprofen. Taking ibuprofen may offer temporary pain relief.
  • Peppermint. Soaking a cotton ball in peppermint extract and placing it over the painful area may reduce pain.

Some discomfort is expected when your child’s 6-molars are emerging. However, in some cases, your child may develop an infection.

If your child experiences a fever higher than 104°F (40°C), you should take them to a doctor. If their symptoms last longer than a week, you may also want to visit a doctor to check for complications.

It’s also a good idea to bring your child to a dentist for routine checkups to check for cavities, bite problems, and to monitor potential tooth problems before they occur.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that most children should visit the dentist every 6 months.

Your child will get their first permanent molars when they’re about 6 or 7 years old. Your child will have these teeth for the rest of their lives.

The 6-year molars are often the first teeth to decay in adulthood. Teaching your child proper dental hygiene habits can help them maintain a healthy mouth throughout their lives.

Here are some good dental habits you can teach your child:

  • brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice per day
  • flossing once per day
  • gently brushing teeth on all sides
  • lightly brushing your tongue
  • rinsing after flossing
  • visiting your dentist for regular checkups