Discovering your child's first loose tooth can be a bittersweet moment for parents. It's a sign that your baby is growing up, which is both awesome and a little sad at the same time. Many children are excited by the wiggly tooth, especially if they've heard friends or older siblings talk about money or gifts from the Tooth Fairy. However, other children react with fear to the unfamiliar sensation in their mouths and the prospect of loosing a tooth that's been there for as long as they can remember. If you have a child who's frightened by their first loose tooth, here are a few tips for calming those fears.
Validate and Explain
If you were never bothered by loose teeth and you've never seen a child react with fear, your first response may be to tell them they shouldn't be afraid, or that they should be excited. Resist this impulse – your child can't help how they feel. Instead, validate their feelings by acknowledging that it does feel strange or even a little bit painful to have a loose tooth, and that the idea of losing teeth can be scary.
Following that, make it a point to explain that what they're feeling is normal, and that soon the tooth will be out, and their mouth will feel normal again. Remove as much of the mystery surrounding loose teeth as possible – read books or watch videos together that explain what's happening in kid-friendly terms.
Follow Their Lead
Some kids are so bothered by the feeling of a loose tooth that they want it out of their mouth immediately. Other kids want to delay the eventual loss of the tooth for as long as possible, and they may not want you to touch it, or to wiggle it themselves.
Either of these things are fine, so just follow your child's lead. If your child wants the tooth out, show them how to wiggle it with their tongue to loosen it. When it becomes very loose, you can pull it out yourself with a clean piece of gauze. Just grasp and pull – but if it doesn't come out easily, stop and go back to wiggling; it's not ready yet.
If your child doesn't want to touch it or let you touch it, that's fine as well. Explain that you still have to brush that tooth to keep the gum healthy, but agree that otherwise, no one will touch it. It will fall out in it's own time, even without any extra wiggling.
Don't Push the Tooth Fairy
The Tooth Fairy may seem like an obvious way to get a nervous child on board with the concept of loosing teeth. However, the truth is that not all children like the Tooth Fairy, and some find the concept of a winged invader rummaging under their pillow at night downright terrifying.
Even if the Tooth Fairy is traditional in your home, don't be afraid to place a call to Fairyworld to cancel the Tooth Fairy's visit if your child isn't enthused about the idea. An alternative that many children enjoy is keeping their teeth in "tooth boxes" so that they can look at it later if they want to. Help your child decorate a jewelry box or other small box to store their teeth in.
While most loose teeth don't require a trip to the dentist, a family dentist (such as one from Village Family Dental) can be instrumental in calming a nervous child. After all, they know the dentist is an expert on teeth, so if the dentist tells them that their loose tooth is normal, it must be so. Don't be afraid to arrange a visit to the dentist if that's what it takes to soothe your child's fears.