Losing baby teeth is a special event in our children’s lives. It feels strange, exciting, and maybe a little scary for some. Our kids love exploring that squiggle-y baby tooth in between the still-sturdy ones, or poking a tongue through the new “window” in their mouth. And some kids feel shocked or a little nervous if there is a little bit of blood when the tooth first exits its home.
Drs. Skinner and Chudleigh, your family dentists in Louisville CO, understand how important losing teeth can be for our kids, so we want to talk about a very special person who helps kids bridge the transition between baby teeth and adult teeth: the tooth fairy.
Lost tooth traditions around the world
The USA isn’t the only place visited by a fairy. In Spain, Mexico, and other Spanish-speaking countries, a fairy also shows up to take teeth and bring a small present or money– the small difference is that this fairy is a rat, named El Raton de los Dientes. He performs the same function of ushering in permanent teeth and ushering out baby teeth– but presumably without the sparkly wings, fairy dust, and magic wand.
Rodents also feature in French tradition, this time in (what some might consider more appealing) mouse form. Like our fairy and El Raton de los Dientes, La Bonne Petite Souris, as she is known, takes teeth that children have left under pillows– replacing them with money or sweets. Apparently, La Bonne Petite Souris has not got the message about sugar and oral health!
Many Asian and middle eastern countries skip the tooth fairy altogether and simply get rid of the lost tooth themselves– by throwing it. In some places teeth are tossed either on the roof or under the house to encourage the new tooth (either on the top of bottom row) to grow in. In Mongolia, lost teeth are buried under a tree so that the new tooth coming in grows “as strong as tree roots.”
New tooth fairy traditions
Back in the USA, tooth fairy traditions vary far and wide– usually in terms of where the tooth is left and what the fairy brings. For new families just reaching the point of losing baby teeth, or for families who want to “spice up” their existing fairy traditions, here are some fun– and educational!– ideas.
- Tooth Naming. This activity can come after or before the tooth is lost. Acquire a baby tooth chart and ask your child to name the tooth that just fell out: an incisor? Canine? Then take this opportunity to talk about the differences between deciduous teeth (baby teeth) and adult teeth in an age appropriate manner. For instance, talk about where adult teeth come from, how there are a greater number of them, etc.
- Toothy Comparisons. Take the time to examine your child’s lost tooth and compare it to the teeth of other species. For example, if the tooth is a canine tooth, compare it to the canines of a wolf or a tiger– whoa! Or, if an incisor, compare to a rabbit— and talk about how bunny incisors keep growing!
- Make a Ritual. There are some really cute, creative, and fun ideas around where and how to leave teeth– make your own, or try one of these ideas: behind a dollhouse door, in a special pocket made of felt, or in a homemade matchbox tooth container!
Don’t miss this opportunity to talk about oral care with your child. Depending on their age, supervising toothbrushing and flossing– and continuing to emphasize their importance– is critical. Maybe the tooth fairy could leave a sparkle-y… toothbrush?
For more ideas or to share your own family rituals, talk to us at your next appointment with Louisville Dental Associates!