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The Hidden Meaning of The Tooth Fairy

Tooth Fairy-Childrens Dentist-Dental HygieneLosing their first tooth can be exciting as well as a scary experience for a child. A child will start losing their teeth around six years of age, although some may lose teeth as early as four years or as late as 7-8 years.

Your child will lose their teeth in the order they came in – often the central lower incisors (lower central front teeth) first, followed by the central upper incisor teeth. The lateral incisors, canines, and molars (back teeth) will follow in the succeeding years (up to age 11-12).

Rituals About Losing Teeth

Losing a tooth is a natural process, so much so that different cultures had different rituals to commemorate this important milestone. Some cultures burned the tooth, buried it in the ground or a wall, or even swallowed the tooth! In doing so, they called on their deities to help the child grow new and better teeth.

In American culture, most of us have heard of or even played the Tooth Fairy. Inspired by a French fairy tale, La Bonne Petite Souris, a good queen is jailed by a bad king, and she calls on a mouse to help her. The mouse turns into a fairy who frees the queen and knocks out the bad king’s teeth. The fairy-mouse hides the teeth under the king’s pillow and later has him killed.

While today’s version of the Tooth Fairy isn’t as nearly dramatic or tragic, there are several aspects of the story that remain true: a small fairy, hiding of the tooth, and finding a treasure in its place the next morning. The story of the Tooth Fairy plays a role in normalizing this important milestone for children, allowing them to look forward to it instead of dreading it. And what is more exciting for a young child than a secret gift waiting under their pillow when they wake up. Suddenly, the tooth has been replaced with a small coin, a little toy, or another token of something fun, given by the tooth fairy as a way of saying “thanks for the tooth!” Create your own tooth fairy tradition as a way to turn the loss of a tooth into an event that is exciting, not scary.

When to See a Dentist

You may not need to see a dentist if your child has lost their baby teeth naturally. Have them rinse with warm salty water to clean out the site and avoid brushing too hard near the site where the tooth has fallen out. The permanent tooth should come in within a few weeks.

Encourage your child to wiggle the tooth in place until it is ‘soft’ enough to pull out. However, it is important to avoid pulling the tooth until it is ready. Premature pulling of a tooth may cause injury to the mouth. Contact us if there are concerns about the condition of the tooth itself if bleeding or swelling occurs.

Dental Hygiene

Knowing that a child’s first set of teeth will fall out, is not a reason to skip regular dental care. Brushing and flossing are important not only to the teeth, but also to the health of the gums, tongue, and mouth surfaces. Schedule twice-annual visits to the dentist for a routine checkup and cleaning. As the permanent teeth come in, emphasizing dental checkups and daily brushing will teach your child about the importance of good dental hygiene habits.