August 22nd marks National Tooth Fairy Day. In fact, it actually happens twice a year so look forward to another celebration on February 28th. We’re a dental office, of course we totally understand the excitement – when you’re a child, there’s nothing quite like losing your first tooth and anticipating a visit from the infamous Tooth Fairy. As parents, you know that in many families, the Tooth Fairy has upped her ante over the last few decades so you may now have some fairly high expectations to meet.
Don’t worry, we’re not here to recommend that you empty out your wallet, but rather to provide some fun and creative ideas that can make remembering this inaugural moment even more special for your little ones. So we’re going to share some advice on ways that you can help your kids from the time they feel that first loose tooth to the moment it comes out and to what they can do after the fact in order to celebrate this rite of passage.
Phase 1: The Loose Tooth
Most children will experience their first loose tooth around age 6; baby teeth typically fall out by around age 12. But why does a tooth become loose in the first place? As noted, we’re born with baby teeth that undergo developmental changes, much like the rest of our bodies, in order to supply us with a permanent set of teeth that is designed to be stronger and more suitable for human needs. When a tooth becomes loose naturally, this means that bone cells are working to break apart the root in order to make room for the permanent tooth.
Naturally, the feeling of a loose tooth is a new sensation for children and can be curious and odd for first-timers. Here are some tips on how to prepare your child on what to expect with a loose tooth:
- Take advantage of child-friendly literature: Yes, we’re talking about reading coming of age masterpieces like “The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist” by Stan & Jan Berenstain or “Just Going to the Dentist (Little Critter)” by Mercer Meyer. The more you familiarize your child with relevant information, the less nervous and anxious they’re likely to be about the experience.
- Do not force it out: Remind your child that the tooth will (in most cases) fall out naturally, once it’s ready. Refrain from pulling or extracting because it might result in an unnecessary visit to see us. It’s not that we don’t want to see you, we love seeing you, but there are ways to save yourself a trip.
- Blood is normal: Let your child know that there might be some blood once the tooth falls out and that it’s okay and typical to experience minimal bleeding.
- Use a cold compress: Loose teeth can be uncomfortable; especially if/when you’ve never felt one before. If your child expresses that he or she is feeling any pain or soreness, provide a cold compress to numb the area for relief. Over the counter medication like Children’s Tylenol may also be a solution for discomfort.
- Keep the area clean: It can be challenging to brush or floss as you normally would with a loose tooth, so we recommend doing your best to help your child keep the area clean. Swish warm water around in the mouth to remove particles from the loose tooth and help reduce bacterial buildup.
Phase 2: When Loose Becomes Lost
You’re on, Tooth Fairy. It’s your time to shine. You’ve been in your child’s shoes and now it’s time for you to experience a rite of passage of your own.
Here’s our advice to you:
- Clear your schedule: Make sure you’re free, or at least on call, so that you can partake in this exciting adventure along with your child (unbeknownst to them).
- What to leave: Tradition strongly suggests that you grant your child some cold, hard cash to honor this moment. The amount is up to you, of course, but $1 still stands strong in our circle. We’d also recommend gifting your child with a new toothbrush and a fresh, new tube of personal toothpaste. It’s a good time to “subtly” reinforce oral hygiene habits.
- How to hide the surprise: Let’s face it; getting under the pillow when your child is already asleep and without causing any stirring or awakening is an art. You’re not there yet, you need practice. Might we recommend a small replacement pillow to keep on a bedside table? You could even consider decorating it with the first lost tooth date and anything else that is unique to or symbolic of your child.
- How to maintain the goods: Kids are funny – they usually want to preserve and keep their teeth. Or maybe it’s you that wants to, no judgment here. We suggest preparing a special tooth bag or box for your child to hide his or her treasures.
Phase 3: Celebrate, But Set Boundaries
…so that you don’t come out of the gates with something so spectacular that your child will expect an over-the-top celebration every time. It’s a big deal, we agree; but it’s also a good opportunity to tie in some kind of educational aspect as well.
Here is a combination of fun and educational ways to help your child celebrate:
- An excuse for family night: “Tooth Fairy” and “Rise of the Guardians” are family-friendly flicks that fit the theme and can even earn you some quality time with your loved ones. Of course we’d recommend serving up some healthy treats like crunchy veggies instead of popcorn if you can get away with it.
- Write a thank you note: Suggest that your child gets into the practice of leaving the Tooth Fairy a note expressing gratitude and appreciation for the bounty he or she received; or describing how to take good care of your teeth. Any chance to sneak in a quick nod to dental hygiene is a bonus!
- Get artistic: If your child is into drawing, painting or any other expressive or artistic talent, capitalize on the opportunity to encourage your little one to create a picture, cartoon or piece of art that represents his or her first Tooth Fairy experience.
We’re curious – who assumes the responsibility of the Tooth Fairy in your home? Do you sport special attire or focus on practicing your ninja-like moves? Regardless of your approach, photos are welcome!