Dentistry Pediatrics / Children's Health

How to deal with two-year molars

Also known as second molars, 2-year molars are the set of teeth at the back of the mouth. These are wide, flat teeth that are perfect for grinding foods.

According to the American Dental Association, 2-year molars typically come through when a child is between 23 and 33 months old.

The lower set usually appears between the ages of 23 and 31 months, while the upper set typically appears between the ages of 25 and 33 months.

Many toddlers show no signs of pain while teething. However, when these molars come through, it can be particularly painful and lead to crankiness and irritability.

In this article, learn to tell when the 2-year molars are coming in and how to reduce a child’s discomfort.


Symptoms

Baby chewing on a toy due to 2 year molars
Chewing on toys may be a sign of molars coming in.

Getting 2-year molars can cause significant discomfort, and a child may not be able to communicate the cause of the pain.

Parents and caregivers can look for signs of the molars coming in. The child may:

  • be chewing on toys, their fingers, or clothing
  • be drooling more than usual
  • be unusually irritable
  • have a low-grade rectal temperature of about 99.0°F or 37.2°C

Two-year molars and dental pain do not lead to higher-grade fevers or an upset stomach. A child with either symptom may have a cold or a stomach-related illness.

A child’s teething symptoms may seem to grow worse at night, when the child is tired and has fewer distractions from the pain.

A child experiencing pain in the gums and mouth may not be inclined to show the area to an adult. Singing a song or playing a game that involves sticking out the tongue and opening the mouth wide can help.


Home remedies

Many simple home remedies can help to relieve teething pain.

The following tips can reduce discomfort:

  • Rubbing the gums with a clean finger.
  • Having the child hold a cold spoon between their teeth.
  • Having the child bite on a cold, wet gauze pad or a washcloth soaked in ice water.
  • Offering teething rings for chewing. The rings should be made from firm rubber and should not be frozen. Rings that are too hard can hurt the child.
  • Applying moisturizers regularly to the skin around the mouth to prevent cracking and dryness caused by drooling.

Parents and caregivers should always observe children who are using a teething toy, a spoon, or another device to relieve the pain.

Distraction techniques, such as coloring, singing songs, and dancing, can also help to take a child’s mind off their aching teeth.

Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can also help to reduce discomfort for 1 or 2 days. Be sure to administer pain relievers that are safe for children, and never give a child more than the recommended dose.

If a parent or caregiver wishes to give the child pain relievers after 2 or 3 days, they should consult a doctor first.

Teething rings are available for purchase in some grocery stores and pharmacies, as well as online.

Medications to avoid

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warn against using some medications developed for teething.

Many teething gels and pastes are available. However, the FDA and other organizations caution that these can contain harmful ingredients.

For example, some contain benzocaine, which can lead to a life-threatening condition called methemoglobinemia.

Also, it is important to watch for signs the medication has numbed the back of the child’s throat. This can cause difficulty swallowing.

Many drugstores sell homeopathic medications that may be labeled as teething tablets. However, the FDA also warn against using these to treat teething pain.


When to see a doctor

Doctor assessing a baby
It may help to see a doctor if home remedies are not relieving pain.

If home remedies are not relieving 2-year molar pain, it may be a good idea to make an appointment with the child’s doctor.

Teething should not make a child feel ill. Speak with a doctor if the child exhibits any of the following symptoms:

  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • a fever higher than 100.4°F or 38.0°C

These symptoms can indicate the presence of underlying illness, such as a viral infection.


Takeaway

Baby teeth eventually fall out, but they serve an important purpose. They act as placeholders, preventing the permanent teeth from growing in when the mouth is still too small.

Caring for a child with 2-year molar pain can sometimes be difficult. It is important to maintain the child’s routine as much as possible and provide them with plenty of distractions.

Home remedies can help. It is essential to remember that teething pain is temporary and that the child will feel well again once the teeth have fully come in.

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