Childhood milestones are special and memorable for families. Losing the first tooth ranks as a pretty special day! However, when our daughter lost her first tooth we were totally unprepared. In order to spare other parents the dramatics, we are here are to give you all the deets on the magic, mystery, oral hygiene and more with our rendition of Tooth Fairy 101!
Children’s teeth begin forming before birth. The first primary, or baby, teeth erupt through the gums as early as four months. All 20 of the primary teeth usually appear by age three. Permanent teeth begin appearing around age six. The last baby tooth won’t be lost until around age 12. According to our pediatrician and dentist, when children’s teeth begin to fall out has to do with a wide variety of factors. Our daughter lost her first tooth when she was 5 (hence being totally not ready and unprepared), however, she had four baby teeth by the time she was four months, so I am totally in the camp that the earlier they arrive the earlier they fall out.
2) Tooth Fairy
The tooth fairy is a magical being who leaves special gifts for children when they lose their teeth. Did you know that the Tooth Fairy is only a fantasy figure of early childhood in Western and Western-influenced cultures? The folklore states that when children lose one of their baby teeth, they should place it underneath their pillow and the Tooth Fairy will visit while they sleep, replacing the lost tooth with a small payment.
3) Actual Tooth Lose
Now, the whole tooth fairy part sounds so magical and glittery. Well, I am here to burst your bubble – the whole tooth falling out part is 33% blood, 33% sweat, and 33% tears. At first, your offspring will be all excited that their tooth is loose, but that excitement will soon dissipate as they learn that this small calcium formation has to actually be removed from their mouth and it usually involves LOTS OF blood. When my brothers and I (and I am pretty sure my local cousins) hit the “hanging by a thread” stage of our baby teeth, my dad would take us into the bathroom, apply a generous amount of ambisol to the surrounding gum with surgical precision, and yank that tooth out with one swoop. I know for a fact that I did not lose a tooth by any other means until I was in the fourth grade and encountered a rather fibrous green apple.
Well, our lovely daughter would not let us come near her wiggly tooth. Thankfully the first tooth she lost was super dooper fast. In other words, on Tuesday she told us it was loose and on Thursday it fell out during bedtime stories (have I mentioned how unprepared we were??). However, since that fast and simple tooth extraction of March 2017, the other five have involved varying degrees of screaming, crying and bribing. She has yet to swallow a tooth, so I am declaring it a success.
4) Where To Leave the Tooth
After your child loses their tooth (which is NOT for the faint of heart) you must establish where you leave it. I purchased a little pillow at a local pharmacy and it does the trick. There are a plethora of adorable tooth containers on Etsy. I would say if you have a child that’s 5 or older it is a good idea to order one of those bad boys.
5) Tooth Fairy Teachings
The whole idea of small magical bug-sized lady flying into your room while you are peacefully dreaming, and taking your fallen-out baby teeth can be slightly concerning to some young and impressionable minds. After our first tooth fiasco, we ordered this book from Amazon and it is definitely recommended.
I used to love leaving a little note for the tooth fairy and since the apple does not fall far from the tree, my daughter shares this enthusiasm. She now writes the note all by herself, so I don’t know what they say until I am the “tooth fairy.” The last two times I wrote her a note back and left it in her pillow.
7) The Goods
So, the million-dollar question (pun intended) – what do you leave for a baby tooth? The key here is consistency. As I mentioned, your kids have 20 baby teeth, so you don’t want to go all gung-ho on the first one because that is a lot of Benjamins to shell out on something that is supposed to happen. My husband decided that our family is going to leave Sacagawea coins, and this turned out to be a wonderful idea. For each tooth, the tooth fairy leaves a nice shiny Sacagawea coin.
8) Flexibility is Key
As with all things involving children, they are going to throw you a curve ball. Our curveball was a barely wiggly tooth that just happened to fall out while we were on an unexpected trip to Florida. A Sacagawea coin we did not have. But like all good parents, we told a white lie. I wrote our beloved daughter a note stating that the large coin was just too heavy for her wings to fly ALL the way down to Florida and left a dollar bill instead. She was overjoyed and brought the note to school to show her teachers.
9) Compare & Despair
I wrote an entire post on the traps of falling down the rabbit hole of comparing ourselves to others and it turns out tooth loss is something children really care deeply about. My daughter can rattle off exactly how many teeth each of her friends has lost. As you can imagine if your child happens to lose their teeth on the later side it can be quite challenging. Tooth loss occurs over a WIDE range of time. In other words, there is no rushing it and it happens when it happens. Our 4-year-old asks weekly when her teeth are going to fall out.
10) Now what? … what exactly do you do with the teeth?
Seriously, what are parents supposed to do with the teeth? Do you keep them? Throw them out?