One of the first major changes our bodies go through, that we can see, happens around the age of 6: we lose our first tooth. How many people remember that day? Was it a good or bad experience for you? Were you waiting for the Tooth Fairy to visit? Chances are your experience
depended on the amount of time that you, as a child, had to get used to the idea of losing a part of your body.
A research group at the University of Zurich conducted a study on children’s reactions to losing their first tooth and, for the most part, the experiences were positive. The study unveiled some factors that could weigh in on the outcome.
Your baby teeth (Deciduous Teeth) fall out from the ages of 6-7 until the age of 12-13. The American Dental Association says it’s common for teeth to fall out in the order in which they appeared.
A child’s 20 primary teeth have been in the jaw since birth. Once a child notices that a tooth is loose it can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to fall out. If a child wiggles it a lot, it will fall out sooner. Once the tooth falls out, it can take up to six months for the permanent tooth to come in. If it takes longer, you should take your child to the dentist.
The study at the University of Zurich involved 1,300 children. The result: four out of five children had a positive experience with their first tooth loss. Some of the factors that affected a child’s experience were:
1. Time: Researchers discovered the more time it took for the tooth to fall out, from the time a child first discovered it was loose, the better the experience. The longer waiting time led to more relief and pride once the tooth fell out.
2. Parents Education and Cultural Background: The study also revealed that sociodemographic factors played a part. Children of parents with a high level of education and that came from non-Western countries were more likely to have feelings of pride and joy at the loss of their first tooth. The cultural background plays a role depending on “transitioning rituals” that come with the loss of the first tooth.
3. Previous dental experience: Finally, a child’s dental experience prior to losing that first tooth plays a part. For example, if a child had cavity-related situations at the dentist there could be a tinge of shame or guilt associated with those dental visits. Research shows that children had fewer positive emotions in this case.
Bottom-line: The study revealed communication between parent and child regarding losing that first tooth, whether it be seen as a right-of-passage or a simple sign of growing up, has an effect on a child’s experience.
Talk to your children about the stages of losing that first tooth. It’s a milestone in your child’s life. If he/she does not find that exciting enough, try the promise of hard cold cash from the Tooth Fairy. That "trick” has worked for millions of children.