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Childrens Health

Losing a first tooth and preparing for a visit from the tooth fairy

toddlers mouth with 2 small teeth

Losing a tooth is one of the first major milestones in a child’s life. Not only does it mean they are preparing for their adult teeth to emerge, but it also means they get to enjoy their first visit from the tooth fairy.

Most children start to lose their milk teeth at the ages of five and six, with many wearing the gaps in their teeth as a sign of pride at being a ‘big’ girl or boy, and as such can’t wait to lose a tooth.

Parents on the other hand can either be delighted, or sobbing internally at the swift passage of time. Losing their milk teeth is a sign that they are growing up and becoming more independent.

Should I be worried when my child loses their first tooth?

No, losing their teeth is a completely normal process. The only time you should be concerned would be if your child lost their tooth after an accident as this could indicate that the tooth fell out too soon or that there might be damage to the adult tooth that has yet to emerge.

If your child lost their tooth following a trip or fall, visit the dentist for a checkup. An X-ray will reveal if there is anything to worry about.

Introducing the tooth fairy

The tooth fairy is a thing of wonder for many young children. She visits at night and exchanges your teeth for money. Children leave their teeth under their pillow, sometimes in a special purse, and then when they wake in the morning, the tooth is gone and they are a little richer.

One of the biggest challenges on the loss of a milk tooth is making an appointment with the tooth fairy. How will she get into the house? What will she leave in return? And what does she do with those teeth she collects? These are all great questions to explore with your child and it can help them to get excited about the prospect of caring for their teeth so that the tooth fairy will reward them.

Parents need to give consideration to these logistical dilemmas to keep the magic alive and ensure any anxiety at losing milk teeth is replaced by the excitement of a visit from the tooth fairy. Most children wake up to find £1 or £2 under their pillow after a visit from the tooth fairy. Some parents are parting with as much as £5 for their first tooth and then £2 for future teeth.

Top tips for dealing with loose teeth

When milk teeth first become loose parents may need to reassure their child and make sure they maintain a good dental hygiene routine.

  • It is important children continue to brush their teeth properly, even though they may be worried about the wobbly tooth.

  • If your child is worried about hurting their tooth, encourage them to eat on the opposite side of their mouth, or serve soft food such as soup or mashed potato.

  • Let the milk tooth work out of its own accord – wiggling by the child is fine but don’t take a piece of string to the tooth!

  • The mouth may bleed a little on the loss of a milk tooth but it shouldn’t hurt more than a tingle.

  • There is no danger to health if a milk tooth is swallowed – it will pass through the body. However, the child may be upset that the tooth fairy won’t come. Reassure them that the tooth fairy has magical abilities to be able to deal with these issues.

  • Adult teeth can grow behind milk teeth – check with your dentist if the adult tooth reaches half the size of the milk tooth.

  • The tooth fairy can still visit even if a tooth has been lost – just write a little note and pop it under the pillow.

  • You can help children prepare for losing their first tooth and a visit from the tooth fairy by reading a book such as My Wobbly Tooth Must Not Ever Never Fall Out (Charlie and Lola).

By following these tips, you can let magic replace fear when your child loses their first milk tooth.

Establishing good oral health habits for life

Once they have their adult teeth emerging, it’s important to continue good oral health habits. There is a common misconception that the milk teeth are simply “practice” teeth and they will get another chance to care for their teeth better when they get their adult teeth.

Tooth decay in milk teeth is becoming increasingly common and should be avoided at all costs. Children need to be encouraged to take care of their milk teeth and their adult teeth. The myth of the tooth fairy can help to reinforce this message. This will help to encourage children to have good oral health habits from a young age.

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