Losing a first tooth is a
milestone for children. From kindergarten on, they look forward to
the event as a sign that they are truly growing up. Adults often
forget how important the experience is and how devastated a child
can feel if he’s one of the last in his group to have a loose tooth.
If your child is upset because he has “slow teeth,” spend time
listening to him and reassuring him. Even though his problem is a
mild one, don’t lightly dismiss his unhappiness because his feelings
are very real. He wants to experience what his friends and
classmates have gone through. If he has older siblings, he’s seen
them get money or a gift along with a lot of attention for losing
teeth. It’s natural that he wants to be part of this.
He may have a kindergarten or first grade teacher who makes a fuss
over lost teeth. Some classrooms have colorful wall charts showing
how many teeth each student has lost, and some teachers offer
special privileges on the day a tooth comes out. This can be hard
for some kids, especially those with end-of-the-year birthdays who
are likely to lose teeth later than their older classmates. If your
child is unhappily waiting for his first loose tooth, such schools
activities may make him feel worse.
Fortunately, you can promise him that he’ll lose a tooth. While you
wait, you can read him some comforting books about other children in
his situation. One mother wrote soothing notes to her child, saying
that the tooth fairy knew all about him and would be visiting one
day. Other parents suggest that their six- or seven-year-olds wiggle
their front teeth looking for a hint of movement. Even if it takes
months for a tooth to fall out, a child will feel better as soon as
he detects a bit of looseness.
Occasionally, the first tooth a child loses is one a dentist
extracts. If your child has to go through this procedure because of
dental problems, talk to him about what will happen. If he’s
anxious, let the dentist know and ask for help in reassuring your
child. If your child wants you close by during the extraction, plan
to stay with him. However, if you anticipate an outburst, you might
want to send him off with just the dentist and assistant. Some
children are more in control of their emotions when their parents
aren’t with them.
Before and after the tooth is pulled, tell your child about the
“treasure” he’ll get at the dentist’s office and the surprise he’ll
find under his pillow. Even though the extraction is unpleasant,
when it’s done, he’ll still have the excitement of having lost his