All About the Molar (for Kids)

Hey, kids! I’m Molly, and I’m a molar, one of the big teeth with lots of bumps and grooves you see in the back of your mouth when you say “ahh.” If you don’t see me yet, that’s alright too. I’m here to tell you all about myself, why my presence is so important, and why you should take care of me just like you do all your other teeth. Here we go!

I like to hide.

Want to know a secret? You have all your teeth even before you come out of Mommy’s tummy! How cool is that? It takes baby teeth a little while to learn how to pop up through the gums. Remember when you learned how to ride your bike? The first day, you learned about the pedals and handlebars. Getting on the bike was easy when Mom or Dad was there, but trying it on your own for the first time was a little scary. It’s the same with me and my brothers and sisters.

My siblings Larry the Lateral Incisor and Chris the Central Incisor showed up when you were just a baby because they’re the oldest (and a little braver). But I’m the youngest (and the biggest), so it takes me a little longer to get ready. Meanwhile, I hide in the cozy warmth of your gums while my siblings do all the nibbling, munching, and crunching.

I’m much bigger.

Around the time you turn 6 years old, you may feel some changes in your mouth. Baby teeth start falling out—some on their own and others with a little help from Dr. Jeff. And while it is sad to say goodbye to Larry and Chris, it also means more visits from the tooth fairy, which is pretty cool. The size of your face is now closer to adult size, meaning your jaws and mouth have grown. So it is time for bigger teeth! That’s where I come in. My three brothers and I start growing behind your baby teeth a little after your sixth birthday.

I come in layers.

I have layers just like your birthday cake! The white part that’s just above the gums (your gums are the pink part) is called my crown. It’s what you see when you smile. The crown isn’t one big ball of tooth though. No sirree! This is a hard shiny layer called the enamel that’s super strong and helps keep the sugar bugs from getting inside the tooth.

Just below the enamel is the dentin. Now this layer isn’t as strong as the enamel, but it’s just as important because it protects the innermost part of the tooth, which adults call the pulp. Remember that one time Dad let you have two extra scoops of your favorite ice cream? How did the first bite feel? Cold, right? The pulp has fibers that help it sense when the tooth is near something really cold or hot. Then they tell the brain what’s going on in the mouth. The pulp is also what keeps my brothers and me alive and healthy.

Way down below the gumline is the last layer of the tooth called cementum. It holds our tooth roots really tightly so we don’t fall out of your mouth all willy-nilly.

I’m a grinder.

I’m not a biter like my brother Chris! Don’t hold it against him, though; he’s the reason you can say “tooth” or sing the “La La La” fruit song and get all the words right. All the teeth in your mouth help you bite, chomp, and chew so you can enjoy a healthy meal. My job is to do most of the grinding. So after Chris bites a carrot (YUM!), the tongue pushes it over to Candice the Cuspid. After a few chews, Candice hands the piece over to me—Molly the Molar. Because a molar is flatter and larger than other teeth, we make it easiest for you to chew up tough foods.

Take good care of me please!

Because of how much you need them, your teeth start to grow even before you’re born. You won’t see us, though, until you’re around 6 months old. Some of your teeth (like me) won’t come out until your sixth birthday, but that just makes us even more special! So you’ll need to take really good care of us. That means brushing your teeth two times a day to get rid of the sugar bugs that like to steal our layers. You’ll need to open your mouth really wide, like a roaring lion. If you have a tough time reaching our bumps and grooves, let Dr. Jeff know the next time you see him. He’s a children’s dentist who’s really good at keeping my siblings and me clean and healthy. This way I can stay with you until you’re as old as Grandma and Grandpa.

Bye for now!