Q&A Molars

Teeth and Cavities

How can I help prevent cavities in my child’s molars?

Molars have an uneven surface with many grooves that easily trap food. This makes them hard to keep clean and is the reason molars so often get cavities. When your children brush their teeth, make sure they spend extra time on the molars, brushing both the tops and sides. Also, ask your dentist if sealants are a good idea. This is a special plastic type of coating that prevents food from sticking to teeth and protects them from acids in the mouth.

My child’s molars are hurting. What could be causing the pain?

Cavities are a common cause of molar pain. Many cavities can’t be seen just by looking in the mouth, and require a dental exam and X-ray. Another cause could be an abscess, which is an infection deep in the root of the tooth. It is a dangerous infection that needs to be treated immediately. If your child has severe pain, or pain that lasts longer than a day or two, see the dentist immediately. Other causes of molar pain include teeth grinding, gum disease, and misaligned bite.

My child has pain in their molars, but the dentist can’t see them right away. What can I do to help the pain while we wait?

For temporary help with the pain, try the following:

  • Use a topical pain reliever with benzocaine. Use only a small amount and tell your child to spit in the sink after about a minute to get rid of any leftover painkiller.

  • Take an over-the-counter pain killer such as ibuprofen (Advil®) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®).

  • If the tooth has been injured, putting an ice pack on the cheek might help with pain.

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