Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Tooth Fairy

The other day NPR pointed out one exception to the economic crisis contributing to the Fiscal Cliff the world appears to be on the brink of…what the Tooth Fairy is putting under the pillow or in the glass these days.  The National average appears to be $ 3.00, although they didn’t adjust that for cultural or regional variance.
Julie Andrews

My grandson seems to have a sliding scale from $5 to $2 depending on whether he is part of the extraction process.  It got me thinking about my many experiences with the Tooth Fairy.

My father was a dentist ad I can’t remember a tooth he didn’t take out for me, most if not all with his strong fingers.  In my case, my boys had a more professional approach.  Possibly because Tim fell at age one-plus and fractured the root of one upper front tooth and devitalized its companion.  That meant a full blown visit with dental chair, tools and minor restraints.  I don’t precisely remember but doubt if the Tooth Fairy made a visit to the bank to open a Minor’s Account with Tim’s first income stream.

The Dental Museum
There are more ways to remove the wiggly tooth than I have room to mention.  I linked a few clips that I thought were exceptional.  Note the parental involvement.  In researching the subject I found the American Dental Association has contributed a goodly number of articles and even set up an opportunity for children to meet the Tooth Fairy in person at the Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore.

Rise of the Guardians
The Tooth Fairy is understandably international and seemingly one of the older mythical characters, much older than Santa Claus who joins her with Jack Frost and the Easter Bunny in a soon-to-be-released animated film called Rise of the Guardians.

The shedding of the first tooth, which is noticeable because it’s right in front, usually occurs between six and eight and the remaining 10 deciduous (baby) teeth follow in a sequence that compensates for the growth of the jaws and eruption of the permanent teeth.

As a dentist the parental concern I heard most often has to do with the lower permanent teeth coming in inside the lower baby teeth, a natural process that, although temporally ugly, allows the tongue to move them to their proper place in the lower jaw.  Occasionally a deciduous tooth does not get loose.  Sometimes this is because there is no permanent tooth to push it out.  We see this quite often in the deciduous first or second molars when genetics doesn’t form a subsequent bicuspid.  In those cases the tooth may last at least until age 35 before it fails to handle the stress of adult chewing.

In the case of my twenty-two year old granddaughter, the permanent cuspid at the corner of her upper jaw was partially impacted (buried) and only recently has decided to peek out behind her baby cuspid to see what it is like outside.  When that happens, we usually see a need to assist the process with an orthodontic procedure.

I like to use the loss of baby teeth as an opportunity to involve the child in learning about their mouth and more importantly about their personal role in maintaining a healthy mouth.  While it is a little late to teach them about the danger of “catching” the bacteria that cause decay (that happens between the age of 1 ½ and 3), it is the perfect age to teach them about brushing and flossing.  Baby teeth usually have enough space so they don’t need flossing like their permanent friends.  And the child’s dexterity and sense of time suggest this is the age to learn to brush; twice a day for two minutes.

That’s the name of the new ADA/CDA campaign that you’ll be seeing in the media; social and otherwise.

2x2Minutes.  Pay attention.

Next post I’ll teach you more than you thought you would ever want to know about Army Corps of Engineers.  I hope to have my posting issues resolved by them.

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