If you open your mouth wide, you’ll notice molars. You should have eight molars, four on the top nad four of the bottom. Since they come in when you are 6 and 12 years old, molars are often referred to as 6-year molars and 12-year molars. They are very tough and much wider and stronger than premolars.

Molars contain more ridges and work with your tongue to help you swallow food. When your tongue takes chewed up food to the back of your mouth, molars grind it, mash it up, and prepare it for you to swallow. Molars also help keep our facial structure and prevent our cheeks from looking sunken. If your child is around 12-years old, they may experience some pain and discomfort when their molars come in.

Twelve-year molars refer to the second molars located in the mouth, that are directly in front of the wisdom teeth once they develop. They are referred to as the “twelve-year molars” since they typically erupt around 12 years of age. Although, not all children gain their “twelve-year molars” right at the age of 12, some children may get them at an earlier or later age since tooth development is heavily dependent on genetics.

Swollen Gums

For children that are undergoing oral development, it can be uncomfortable. While these molars erupt, there may be mild pain associated with cutting teeth. Specifically, the problem teeth may be the molars that have not fully punctured through the gum, which may be half covered by gum tissue. It may even be possible that slight swelling or puffiness of the gum tissue may be noticeable. If you notice that your child seems to have swollen gums or puffiness, do not panic. It is more than likely that swelling is caused from teeth that are making their way through the gum tissue to fully reach the surface.


If you or your child does notice some swelling while cutting the 12-year old molars, do watch the gums with close attention. In the event that swelling is causing difficulty while eating, it is recommended that soft foods be given. A substantial smoothie can be great and will not contribute to the irritation of chewing. Perhaps, mashed potatoes or other mashed fruits can be a great alternative as well.

Swelling should subside once the molars fully surface through the gums, but in the event it does not, it would be best to consult with a pediatric dentist. The dentist will be able to provide a full report on the condition of the gums and teeth following an appropriate evaluation. It is best to not attempt to self diagnose. While there are some amazing resources on the Internet, it is strongly suggested that you visit a pediatric dentist instead of trying to “play dentist” after reading a few Internet articles or periodicals. While we appreciate your efforts to educate yourself, a medical professional can make a proper diagnosis. You will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have when you give us a call. While it is difficult to answer questions over the phone, we know it will calm some of your uneasiness.


In addition to swollen gums, your child may experience headaches as their 12-year molars come in. Headaches can be quite uncomfortable and make it difficult for them to concentrate in school and extracurricular activities. If they do have headaches, encourage them to take some over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol and Advil. Of course, if their headaches persist and continue to interfere with their daily life, you should consult a doctor.

Caring for Molars

Neglecting molars can lead to various health complications. Since your child’s 12-year molars are located in the back of their mouth, they can be inherently difficult to clean. It’s not surprising that these teeth are the most prone to tooth decay. If your child has issues reaching for their molars, help them find a toothbrush that features a smaller head or one that is designed for hard-to-reach areas. By cleaning their molars on a regular basis and visiting the dentist on a regular basis, your child can keep their molars in tip-top shape.

Contact Us

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s 12-year molars causing gum swelling, please contact Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry immediately for your first time or returning appointment. Our wonderful pediatric dentist, Dr. Konz will be glad to evaluate the situation, sit down with you and discuss proper treatment if appropriate. We want you to know that our staff is dedicated to working with children and at our office they are the top priority!