A Tooth Loose: As the Stories Go
Today's Tooth Fairy means more than dental pay dirt for a child with a loose tooth. She (though a modern day Tooth Fairy may sometimes be a "he") comprises an amalgam of various cultural stories and legends.
Some say medieval Vikings paid their children a "tooth fee" for a lost tooth, which parents wore on necklaces and other jewelry. Further south, a tooth loose meant a potential for disaster. European parents would bury a lost tooth to ensure the growth of new, adult dentition, and to prohibit witches from using the old one to place a curse on the child.
Eastern traditions carry other beliefs regarding a loose tooth. Some Indian families offered the first lost tooth to the sun, while other Asian peoples threw lower teeth on the roof and upper teeth under the floorboards. The children shouted pleas for a new tooth from a mouse - because mouse teeth grow throughout the rodent's life and therefore, experience no drama associated with a loose baby tooth.
And speaking of mice, a French fairy tale from the 1700s added "La Bonne Petite Souris" to loose tooth legend. This mouse changed into a fairy to torture an evil king at night, by knocking out all of the king's teeth. He must have been a very bad king, indeed! (We suspect he didn't floss much.)
The Loose Baby Tooth: Perpetuating Encouragement and Myth
In the new millennium we pretend to know better, and sometimes pretend we don't. The reason? A first lost tooth might seem a traumatic event to a small child.
Avoid drama and trauma either with the help of a Tooth Fairy or without. The first lost tooth signals a coming of age - your little one is growing up and will probably love to know that you noticed. And your dentist would love to know you're celebrating the loose tooth by encouraging good oral health habits. Because a healthy lost tooth in childhood weights the odds for less missing teeth in adulthood.
Opportunity Knocks Out Disease
What will you tell your child about his or her loose baby tooth? Does the Tooth Fairy take a lost tooth to build her castle, or does she bring it to her workshop so she can return it cleaner and stronger than ever? Does she turn a first lost tooth into fairy dust and sprinkle it on the gums to grow more teeth? Or will your child's loose baby tooth magically become a new star in the sky?
How you handle the first loose baby tooth matters. Don't forget: A tooth loose marks physical growth. You might tell your child that he or she is now old enough for the responsibility of an electric toothbrush (make sure it's child-sized and American Dental Association approved) or fluoride rinses. (Please make sure your child is old enough to spit the rinse out.)
For a first loose tooth, you might tell your own version of the Tooth Fairy story and leave cash rewards or other gifts under a pillow. Consider positive reinforcement: Tooth Fairy rewards may reflect the quality of the lost tooth and that a cleaner tooth may mean better gifts.
Or maybe you're a pragmatic parent who prefers to tell the truth and avoid bribery for a lost tooth. If that's the case, hopefully your child knows to brush teeth twice per day and has been flossing ever since he or she has had two or more teeth touching. Your child should be able to handle these tasks alone by the age of 7 or so.
A Loose Tooth & Dentist Magic
Your dentist may employ more magic than the Tooth Fairy ever will, mainly because he or she checks your oral health status regularly. A good pediatric dentist can also provide some tips on handling a loose baby tooth and help you minimize first lost tooth drama.
To find a family or pediatric dentist, please give us a call at 1-866-970-0441.