If your child hasn’t yet lost a first tooth, and has reached the age when you know that it’s probably going to happen soon, you’re probably looking forward to this rather large milestone in your little one’s life. Typically children start to lose their baby teeth around the age of six, usually beginning with the bottom front teeth, followed by the top front teeth, though this can vary. If you’re wondering how to handle it when your child first discovers that a tooth is loose, and what to do after it falls out, here are some tips to ease the process, quell any anxieties, and celebrate the milestone.
- When your child notices the tooth is loose: She will almost certainly notice the loose tooth before you will. It’s her mouth, after all. Show her how to gently wiggle the tooth with her tongue, and try to encourage that over her putting her hand in her mouth to wiggle it. If she insists on wiggling it by hand, make sure that she washes her hands frequently. Remind her to brush and floss and keep her teeth clean. If she has any pain or soreness, cold compresses can help. It’s best to let the tooth fall out on its own, though if it’s loose enough for your child to pull it out without pain, it’s fine for her to do so.
- If your child is anxious: For some children, the first loose tooth can be scary, or at least anxiety-producing. If your little one is anxious, the best thing you can do is listen carefully to his fears, and be understanding, even if his worries don’t seem rational to you. Calmly explain that this is a natural part of growing up, and make sure he understands that this doesn’t mean that he’s sick or injured or that anything is wrong. On the flip side, some children (especially those with friends or older siblings who have already had a few visits from the tooth fairy) can become over-excited – impatient for their first loose tooth to the point of checking every tooth every day, impatiently waiting for the slightest sign of movement. If this sounds more like your child, you may need to explain that each child loses their baby teeth when they’re ready, and his time will come eventually.
- How to celebrate: Once the tooth comes out, it’s time for a visit from the tooth fairy. There are many ways you can make this a special memory for your child. In my home growing up, the tooth fairy always left a note praising me for any recent accomplishments and reminding me to take care of my teeth and listen to my mother. At the bottom of the note, under the signature of “The Tooth Fairy”, there would be tiny little fairy footprints drawn under the signature – proof in my mind, at the time, that the note was from a small sprite interested in all things dental, rather than a large adult. In other households, parents leave “pixie dust” (glitter) in the area where the child lost the tooth, or in a trail from the window to the pillow. You can buy or make special tooth pillows that come with a small pocket, for your little one to leave her tooth in at night and collect the tooth fairy’s gift in the morning, or you can help her decorate a small box, perhaps a jewelry box to be the designated tooth fairy box left under the pillow at night.
However you choose to celebrate it, losing that first tooth is a big milestone, and one that most kids get pretty excited about by the time the tooth is out, if not before. Make sure to have some fun with it, and it will be a memorable milestone for both of you.