My fourth grader lost her fifth tooth this weekend. It was the first tooth that she’s had come out on its own. Normally, we have to take her to the dentist to pull the baby teeth, because the adult teeth have come in behind the baby teeth. What can I say, she just has really reluctant teeth.
Her condition is common. About 1 in every 10 children has what is called “shark teeth”. This is when the adult teeth come in behind the baby teeth, so the child has a double row of teeth. My daughter had both her two upper front teeth and her two lower front teeth come in this way. The recommended solution is to wait about three weeks to see if the baby teeth will fall out without any intervention. If not, then a visit to the dentist is required to extract the baby teeth.
We were all very happy when this fifth tooth fell out on its own. It startled and delighted my fourth grader. We’ve tried to not make her shark teeth a big deal. The tooth fairy has even paid her more, and left notes, because of her needing to go to the dentist to get the teeth out. Her baby teeth have been so worn down before they were pulled, that there really hasn’t been much of a tooth left for the tooth fairy to take.
Most children get to have Jack-O-Lantern smiles when they are six or seven. So, by the time they are nine and ten, it’s not nearly as neat or new. But for my fourth grader with her reluctant teeth, this loss was a fantastical and amazing moment. She was so excited; she had to tell everyone she met that she’d lost a tooth. This was a really big deal for her. It is the first time that she has a gap in her mouth. She now has a gap to push her tongue into and a place to put her straw without opening her mouth. I remember drinking my milk at school without opening my mouth. It was a lot of fun – granted I was in first grade – but still I thought it was cool.
Now my daughter, finally, gets to have this same experience. This rite of passage, so to speak, from babyhood toward adulthood happened for my daughter this week. She has truly lost her first tooth. This happened without any visit to the dentist, or extra help. It just popped out “normally” like everybody else’s teeth. She was so excited that she asked me to write a post about this momentous experience for her. She finally felt like her teeth were acting like her friends’ teeth. She felt “normal”.
Is losing her baby teeth a big deal; probably not. But to her the event was a big deal because it happened on its own. That was the big deal. That’s what she was so excited about. Her baby tooth fell out, just like everyone else’s. The tooth fairy came, and she hadn’t needed the help of a dentist appointment to make the visit happen.
I find it amazing how important these little things are to my children. And the reminder to me is that these events aren’t little if my children don’t think they are little. Every experience like this is important to them, and so, needs to be important to me, even if it’s just a baby tooth falling out of my fourth grader’s mouth.