There is nothing more nerve racking than watching your child walk around with a dangling tooth that looks like it is going to fall out on their spaghetti plate at any moment. Losing teeth normally occurs for most children around the age of 5-6, although some kids may loose their first teeth at 4. When the teeth begin to wiggle and get loose, children normally have one of two reactions. Either they are ultra excited about the potential to be toothless and earn a visit from the tooth fairy – or, they are terrified about their tooth falling out and want to hold on to it as long as possible.
For years, kids have been hearing stories about adults tying up teeth with a string on one end and tying the other end of the string to a door knob and slamming the door to get the tooth to fly out. Or, they start getting all sorts of offers from Grandpa like folks wielding pliers saying they could ‘get thing out in no time.’ No wonder kids are afraid of losing their tooth. If someone came towards you with pliers, or string – you too would be nurturing your tooth to hold on for dear life.
So, should you be pulling a child’s loose tooth? Or should you let the doomed little bugger fall out on its own while your child is biting into an apple?
Let’s see what the experts think about pulling that loose tooth
According to the American Pediatric Dentists Association, adults should refrain from pulling their child’s loose tooth. Instead, they should encourage their child to wiggle and manipulate the tooth. One of the most obvious reasons for this is because your child is the only one who has the ability to gauge how much pain or discomfort they are in. If part of the root is still connected, despite the fact that you can twirl it around in a circle, it can actually hurt quite a bit to go yanking the tooth out. If you allow your child to do it, they will be able to wiggle and loosen the tooth to their own comfort level. Of course, many children are just plain afraid, and will barely touch the teeth demanding that ‘it hurts.’ Likely, it doesn’t hurt in the sense that adults feel tooth pain because the nerves in children’s teeth do not run deep into the gum lines as they do with adults. But still, pushing the envelope and invoking unnecessary amounts of fear for a situation which will inevitably end well (with the tooth being out) should be avoided.
Parents should tell kids what to expect. They should let their child know that the blood they see on their fingers or taste in their mouth is just normal. Many kids have a blood phobia and associate any sort of blood with pain or injury. A loose tooth is not an injury, but rather a part of growing up. Explain to your child that there is a new and shiny adult tooth right above that is just waiting to pop out. If there seems to be a lot of blood then allow your child to chew on a piece of gauze.
For that child who is determined to hang on to the dangling tooth, offer crunchy foods or chewing gum, or carrot sticks which should help to bring the tooth into the open air. And, try not to make a huge deal about it. Loosing teeth and getting a visit from the tooth fairy is supposed to be exciting. Seriously, who doesn’t want a cute little fairy to fly into their room in the middle of the night and give them coins or cash in return for a tiny little tooth?
Of course, there are also a lot of children who don’t mind parental assistance when it comes to teeth pulling. If your child wants your help, then just be sure to proceed gingerly. Get a tissue so that you can grasp the tooth more easily, and then start by wiggling it side to side. If it twists and turns, then do so slowly. Remember, it still could be attached by a shallow root even if it looks like it is just hanging there. If they cry out or squirm, than stop what you are doing and give them time to catch their breath. Chances are if the tooth is extremely loose, you will have the tooth out in a matter of moments, and they might not even know it came out. If your child becomes freaked out, then give them the tissue and let them work on it a little bit. Another good suggestion is to give your child a mirror so that they can see what they are doing.
Worst case scenario, wait the tooth out. In the end, time is an extremely loose tooth’s biggest enemy. Many parents prefer that their kids lose teeth at home rather than at school, and also worry that their child might accidentally swallow the tooth. Truth is, that around 2 out of every 3 kids will swallow a baby tooth unknowingly at some point and the most horrific aspect of that, is that there will be no token to leave for the tooth fairy.
As a last piece of advice, think twice before leaving exuberant amounts of money or gifts for the first lost tooth. Yes, it is a milestone of childhood. But considering that there are over 20 of those teeth in your child’s mouth just waiting to come out – you don’t want to start out leaving $10 bills under the pillow from the tooth fairy.