Posts for tag: baby teeth
It is probably safe to say that you know who the Tooth Fairy is, but do you know where she came from and how the tradition of putting lost baby teeth underneath a pillow in exchange for money came from? As a parent, you have probably played the role of the Tooth Fairy or will do so in the future for your children, the same way that your parents or guardians did for you. Unlike the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, who are both tied to religious holidays, the Tooth Fairy is domination-free and a tradition most families follow without a second thought to why or how that tradition began.
It might come as a shock, but the Tooth Fairy, as we know her, isn’t even a hundred years old. She is also from the United States of America. While other countries around the world have their own traditions that surround the loss of baby teeth, the Tooth Fairy with her beautiful wings, sparkly dress, glittery wand, sweet demeanor, and maternal vibe, is unique to the United States.
The earliest written account of the Tooth Fairy came from a three-act eight-page playlet for children that was written by Esther Watkins Arnold in 1927. The story was written to help bring comfort to children during their years of losing their twenty baby teeth. The idea and act of losing not just one tooth, but twenty teeth in total can be a scary one for young children. The tradition of a sweet and silent fairy taking away the lost tooth from beneath one’s pillow and replacing it with money really helped make this natural part of growing up something to look forward to rather than fear.
Around the same time the story of the Tooth Fairy gained popularity in the United States, Disney released animated movies like Cinderella and Pinocchio, which both had an important fairy character. It was Disney’s rendition of the fairy that helped to solidify what the Tooth Fairy would look like in the minds of most children; a sweet maternal figure with a wand. While there are all different versions of the Tooth Fairy on a physical level, the idea and story is the same across the board. The Tooth Fairy sneaks into the bedroom on the night that a baby tooth is lost, removes it undetected from underneath the pillow, and replaces the tooth with money.
While this tradition is unique to the United States, many countries, including Russia, Mexico, and New Zealand adhere to the tradition of a Tooth Mouse sneaking into the bedroom to take the lost baby tooth. Now, many parents leave money or a small gift behind in exchange for the tooth, but the original tradition was that if the mouse took your tooth it meant that you would have strong adult teeth since mice themselves have strong teeth. Other cultures have children throw their lost baby tooth on the roof, bury it in the ground, toss it in a fire, place it in a tree, or even give it to their mother to swallow.
For most people, raising kids is an expensive proposition. (A recent estimate by the U.S. Department of Agriculture puts the average tab at almost a quarter of a million dollars before they turn 18.) But if you’ve been keeping up with parenting news lately, you may have come across an even more jaw-dropping fact: According to a survey by the Sunstar group, a maker of oral hygiene products, when the tooth fairy makes a pickup in New York City, she (or her parental surrogate) leaves an average of $13.25 per tooth!
That compares to $9.69 per tooth in Los Angeles, $5.85 in Chicago and $5.02 in Boston — and it’s a far higher rate than most other polls have shown. But it brings up a good question: What's a baby tooth really worth? Ask a dentist, and you may get an answer that surprises you: A lot more than that!
A child’s primary (baby) teeth usually begin coming in around the age of 6 to 9 months, and start making their exits about the time a child reaches six years; by the age of 10 – 13, they’re usually all gone. But even though they will not last forever, baby teeth are far from disposable — and they deserve the same conscientious care as adult teeth. Here’s why:
Primary teeth play the same important roles in kids’ mouths as permanent teeth do in the mouths of adults: they allow kids to bite and chew effectively, speak normally and smile brightly. Their proper functioning allows children to get good nutrition and develop positive social interactions as they grow toward adolescence — and those are things it’s difficult to put a price tag on.
But that’s not all baby teeth are good for. Each one of those little pearly-whites serves as a guide for the permanent tooth that will succeed it: It holds a space open in the jaw and doesn’t let go until the grown-up tooth is ready to erupt (emerge) from beneath the gums. If primary teeth are lost too soon, due to disease, decay or accidents, bite problems (malocclusions) can develop.
A malocclusion (“mal” – bad; “occlusion” – bite) can result when permanent teeth don’t erupt in their proper locations. “Crowding” is a common type of malocclusion that can occur when baby teeth have been lost prematurely. The new, permanent teeth may come in too close together because neighboring teeth have shifted into the gap left by the prematurely lost tooth, creating an obstruction for the incoming teeth. In other cases, the permanent teeth may emerge in rotated or misplaced positions.
Bite problems make teeth harder to clean and thus more prone to disease; they may also cause embarrassment and social difficulties. The good news is that it’s generally possible to fix malocclusion: orthodontists do it every day. The bad news: It will almost certainly cost more than $13.25 per tooth. Alternatively, baby teeth in danger of being lost too soon can often be saved via root canal treatment or other procedures.
We’re not advocating giving big money to toddlers — but we do want to make a point: The tooth fairy’s payout: a few dollars. A lifetime of good checkups and bright smiles: incalculable.
Many youngsters look forward to finding a surprise under their pillow after a visit from the “tooth fairy.” This fable may comfort children who wonder why their first teeth come out. Parents need to know that losing baby teeth, also called primary or deciduous teeth, is completely normal, but at the right time and the right “space.”
A child's first set of teeth must be lost to create room for the adult or permanent teeth that have been forming beneath them. The buds of the permanent teeth grow within a child's jawbone just under the baby teeth. The tops, or crowns, grow first, followed by the roots. Then as the roots develop, the permanent teeth push the baby teeth above them up through the gum tissues. As this happens, the roots of the baby teeth are resorbed, or melted away.
With their roots gone, eventually the baby teeth become so loose that they can be easily removed or fall out on their own, making room for the adult teeth to appear. Sometimes, when a baby tooth is so loose, it can be wiggled out. It leaves a little bleeding gum tissue that heals easily. This is also normal.
Besides making sure the tooth fairy comes, parents need to be sure that their children are evaluated to determine whether baby teeth are being lost in the right sequence so they will act as guides for the adult teeth. If teeth are lost prematurely because of decay or trauma, it is important that space is maintained for the adult teeth when they come in.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss whether your child's baby teeth are being lost in the right sequence and the adult teeth are coming in correctly. To read more about losing baby teeth, see the article “Losing a Baby Tooth: Understanding an important process in your child's development.”