The tooth fairy has long been a part of numerous childhood milestones. Many children eagerly anticipate the loss of their first tooth. The thought of catching a glimpse of her leaving money behind is sure to bring joy to any child’s heart. The parents though can face a slightly more complex emotional roller coaster ride. As a dentist and a mother, the loss of my son’s first tooth gave me pure excitement. On the other hand, it was bittersweet for me as it was a reminder that my son was inevitably growing up. With one glimpse of that toothless smile, it reassured me that this was all part of the process and he, more than I, was going to be okay.
Now as monumental as it can be to lose your first tooth as a child, I believe it to be more memorable as an adult. While I cannot remember the loss of my first tooth, I can remember my son’s. It happened at Steak ‘n Shake on the last day of kindergarten when all his other classmates had lost their first tooth and he was feeling all but left behind. On that most fateful day, he had finally joined the club. Now this small boy with his giant smile holding his small tooth in his hand is looking up at me. So naturally thoughts and dreams of the tooth fairy’s arrival were entertained. Would she bring treasure, money, or floss? Would she be thin, or plump, or old, or young? Does she make her way through the window or come through the door? Above all else, what would she do with my tooth? My son’s experience is not unlike millions of other children who leave their teeth under their pillow in hopes that the tooth fairy would leave them something in return. For some, they find money that can range from change to dollars. For others, it is a toothbrush or even floss. In some countries like Mexico, there isn’t even a tooth fairy! A mouse is what these children will fondly remember. Either way, the magic of the first lost tooth lies in the heart of the child and parent as a memory for both of them to share forever.
When will my children lose their teeth?
For all children, this process will happen a total of twenty times. Although all teeth might not be lost naturally, they will be lost at some point in their lives. Some might have been removed due to decay and infection, some due to trauma, still others lost due to crowding. With each lost tooth it marks the passage of time and creates a pattern of the child’s dental age. The first tooth typically lost is the lower or upper incisors around 6 to 7 years of age. The lateral incisors come out around 7 to 8 years old. The canines follow between the ages of 9 to 12. The first molars around 9 to 11 and the second molars from 10 to 12. Not all teeth follow this pattern, but dependably, for most children it will.
What causes teeth to fall out anyway?
After the first group of teeth fall out, it is not long before the permanent teeth start to erupt. After all the reason that the baby teeth fall out in the first place is because the permanent teeth that have been lying dormant under the gum tissue this entire time, have been pushing up against the roots of the baby teeth causing the roots of the baby tooth to melt away. With little to no root left, the baby tooth starts to get loose. When the tooth finally comes out usually there is very little root structure and sometimes they can be quite sharp depending on how the permanent tooth melted away the root.
Don’t go in the water
Now sometimes the permanent tooth starts to come in prior to the loss of the baby tooth. Lots of parents worry that their child has what they call “shark teeth” (I actually had a dad jokingly refer to his son as Jaws once). You’ll even find the lower permanent teeth can come in behind the baby teeth too. Don’t worry as this is very common and not too concerning. Generally, normal functions like eating and talking will push the permanent teeth forward without cause for worry. You will also see teeth that start coming in toward the back of the mouth as well. These teeth are the six year molars and they are a set of teeth that are NOT replacing baby teeth. Throughout childhood, it will seem as though you see teeth falling out all over the place! In fact, this is exactly what happens and this process will continue until all twenty teeth are lost. Now not everyone will have their teeth come in perfectly straight. That’s an entirely different discussion for another time though. In this case, these children will require DUN…DUN…DUN…BRACES!!! If there is ever any concern, feel free to give us a call at 317-336-8478 (DENTIST) and we can investigate what is going on in your child’s mouth.
The maker of memories
Many people fondly remember the tooth fairy in their lives. A child’s thoughts of her coming with whatever gifts she brings one warm and cozy night can be a good reminder that not all change needs to be stressful, but that it can also be eagerly anticipated. After all, we’ve all seen that one child up that next morning with money in one hand and fervently moving their next “wiggly” tooth in the other. As parents we need to take in these moments and enjoy them while we can, as they do grow up fast.