From about the age of six, your little one’s milk teeth will start to fall out (helped by a little wiggling, no doubt!). Often this occasion is marked by the exchange of the tooth for a shiny coin, delivered by the tooth fairy. But if you’d rather the whole affair didn’t revolve around money, try these alternative ways to create a family tradition that is all your own:
1. Leave a thank-you note
A handwritten note or ‘receipt’ from you, the dentist, the ‘tooth fairy’ – or whomever else you like – will capture your child’s imagination. Choose pretty paper and a pen with glitter ink, and write a simple letter, including the date the tooth was lost and thanking your child for leaving such a clean and sparkly tooth that’s been so well cared for (you could even score the tooth out of 10).
If you want it to be hand delivered by the tooth fairy, you could spray the note with glitter spray after you’ve written it, and create ‘footsteps’ in glitter on the windowsill by scattering glitter and ‘walking’ a suitable doll’s feet through it.
Create a keepsake bag or box for your child to keep the tooth correspondence in – children have 20 first teeth, so it will soon fill up!
2. Create a chart to track your child’s tooth loss
Much as you would a reward chart, draw up a fun and colourful record of each tooth as it fell out. Include things like when the tooth first wobbled and why (biting into an apple, for instance), where in the mouth the tooth was, how many days it wobbled for before coming out and where your child was on this momentous occasion. You could even weigh or measure it for extra scientific rigor!
3. Play dentist
We’re all born with 20 ‘milk’ or ‘baby’ teeth, and your dentist will be happy to give you a chart that outlines where all the first (primary) teeth are. As your child’s teeth fall out, you can refer to the chart and colour in the tooth that’s been lost, counting up how many have come out and how many there are to go.
You can also talk about the shape of the tooth and what its job was. For example incisors cut our food, while we use our molars to chew before swallowing. Hello future dental professional…
4. Leave a goody bag
A colourful bag filled with a new toothbrush, ‘big’ boy or girl toothpaste and a fun gift, such as a timer your child can use to ensure optimum brushing time, reinforces good habits.
You could also upgrade to an Oral-B Stages Power Kids electric toothbrush, sporting their favourite movie character for extra appeal – then download the free Disney Magic Timer app, which leads to 90% of kids brushing for longer, helping them develop good habits for life.
Have a look at our guide to children’s tooth care for tips on how best to protect your child’s teeth based on his or her age.
5. Leave a trinket in return for the tooth
Rather than money, the tooth could be exchanged for a small token, such as beads or stickers. Treat these as currency that can be used towards a new toy or activity you know your child really wants to try. When they’ve collected three of these tokens, they get to choose the toy or activity they would like (of a monetary value and activity type agreed to previously with you, of course).
Lost-tooth ‘rewards’ in this vein help children learn about delayed gratification and the value of saving – both super-important lessons that are hard for even some adults to master!
How did you make losing teeth fun for your kids? Leave a comment in the box below – we’d love to know.