Raise your hand if you’ve ever slept through tooth fairy duty. You’re not alone. Most of us have woken up with that sinking feeling at least once in our lives. Some parents adore tooth fairy duty–and others not so much. But regardless of where you stand, wiggly baby teeth and presents under pillows actually offer opportunities to talk about oral health. Every lost baby tooth is a chance to reward excellent oral hygiene and discuss why caring for our teeth and gums is essential.
How Much Does The Tooth Fairy Leave These Days?
The days of happily finding a quarter under your pillow are long gone. Today’s tooth fairies leave closer to $5. A 2020 Delta Dental survey found that the average baby tooth brought in $4.70 that year. If that seems a little steep, no worries. Parents can get creative with dollar coins and other unique ideas. Whatever your tooth fairy’s budget, don’t forget to remind your kiddos that she’s more generous when teeth are clean.
Tips For Making the Tooth Swap–Without Getting Busted
If your child is a light sleeper, the midnight tooth swap can be a source of stress. Here are some tips for making the exchange without getting caught.
- Start a new tradition: the tooth fairy doesn’t have to collect teeth under the pillow. A special container or any designated spot will do.
- 21st Century tooth fairies don’t necessarily remove the teeth. Some of them just leave the money. Set expectations with your little one in advance and roll with it.
- Get a dedicated pillow with a pocket just for teeth. It makes the tooth easier to find.
- Wrapping the tooth in a tissue or piece of cloth also makes the tooth easier to locate and grab without disruption.
What If I Forget About Tooth Fairy Duty?
If you’ve ever heard the terrifying words “The Tooth Fairy didn’t come” at 6 a.m., you’re not alone. Fortunately, the internet is full of brilliant parents with clever diversion tactics.
- Write a note from the tooth fairy for your child explaining why she missed a stop.
- Have a neighbor call and tell your child the tooth fairy hit the wrong house.
- Tell your child the tooth fairy had the night off for wing surgery or another creative excuse.
- Leave cash on the kitchen table and tell your child the tooth fairy was especially busy and will return for the tooth the following night.
What If My Kid Questions the Tooth Fairy’s Existence?
As with our favorite holiday hero, many kids go along with the tooth fairy charade well after they know the real deal. As long as cash is changing hands, it’s usually worth suspending disbelief. If you slip up and forget or get caught, you can generally make excuses a few times. But after that, the jig is up (depending on your child’s age). If an older child asks you directly, it’s best to be honest about the situation. But remind them about not letting younger siblings and classmates in on the secret. And keep celebrating the loss of baby teeth as they get older. Let them know the tooth fairy will continue to show up as long as they keep up with oral hygiene. You can even ramp up the payoff for those last molars and congratulate your tween on a mouthful of healthy teeth.
Should I Keep My Children’s Baby Teeth?
Many parents aren’t entirely sure what to do with their children’s baby teeth. Some diligently save every tooth in a special box, while others take a more relaxed approach. A 2020 survey in Dentistry Today indicated that most parents–almost 60 percent– keep their children’s teeth. Around 20 percent got rid of them– simply throwing them away or burying them in a house plant or the backyard. Some parents get creative–making jewelry or crafts with baby teeth. It all depends on your family culture and outlook. However, a significant scientific development that’s coming into play: new research shows that stem cells from baby teeth can be used to regrow tooth tissue in case of injury to an adult tooth. Because of this promising news, it’s a good idea to keep a few of your children’s baby teeth on hand for the future.
How Can The Tooth Fairy Encourage Oral Hygiene?
Let’s be honest: we don’t all love tooth fairy duty. But the tooth fairy can be a parent’s best friend. She loves clean teeth and is an excellent motivator. Here are some tips for using the tooth fairy to encourage excellent oral hygiene:
- Remind your child from a young age that the tooth fairy appreciates clean teeth and pays accordingly.
- Leave toothpaste, floss or other dental care products in addition to cash. It’s more fun to use if it comes from a special guest.
- Leave a tooth brushing calendar and reward your child when they complete it.
- Leave a note from the tooth fairy praising your child for leaving a clean tooth with no cavities.
- Leave a special note and reward from the tooth fairy after a successful visit with your family dentist.
You might not know it, but at Greenhill Family Dental Care, we’ve got the tooth fairy on speed dial. She’s our partner in promoting excellent oral hygiene for kids of all ages. To steal a line from another nocturnal nomad, she knows who’s been naughty and nice regarding dental care. As always, positive reinforcement is our favorite approach for promoting good habits. We have the best partners in the tooth fairy–and parents all over Northern Virginia.