Column: The importance of losing teeth

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By Heather Kestian

With a week before first grade to go, my oldest lost his first tooth. This has been a long time coming and has involved more than its fair share of drama. He reports that he was the last child in his kindergarten class to lose a tooth. Do you know how difficult that is – to be the “baby” in the class? Through this lack of tooth-losing drama, I learned that losing a tooth sets you on the path to being a big kid. Honestly, I had no idea.

I challenged him to think of it a different way, a technique I call “positive reframing.” You have not lost a tooth because you have taken such good care of your teeth, brushing and flossing them on a daily basis. You have taken such good care of your teeth that they are not ready to leave yet. It has nothing to do with whether you are a big kid or a baby, you have created an environment that keeps your teeth happy, and they want to stay for as long as possible.

This was satisfactory for a month or so, then his friends starting losing more and more teeth. He says, “My friend has lost four teeth. Four! I haven’t lost one! Maybe I should stop brushing my teeth.” Bye-bye, positive reframing.

Thankfully, summer arrived, and not too soon. We headed to the dentist and she assured him he would be losing them soon. One was a little wiggly, which relieved him. I was worried – only one? We are putting a lot of faith in one tooth.

As it would turn out, another tooth loosened. And eventually fell out with exactly seven days before the start of first grade. This created another crisis that had not had to be dealt with in our house – how much does the Tooth Fairy bring these days? Admittedly, I am not a spring chicken, and when I was a kid, my teeth fetched $0.25 each. How has a few decades of inflation affected the price of teeth? If the 20 teeth he has fall out in the next couple of years, this may be a rather large investment on the part of the Tooth Fairy (depending on the cost per tooth and then multiple that by the number of children in the house). Be sure to set a reasonable price, oh great, Tooth Fairy!

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