Right around the time that your little one prepares for kindergarten, they’ll face another rite of passage. How do you cope with your child’s first loose tooth as a parent?

Fortunately, most families eagerly anticipate this time. It’s such a joy seeing your child’s face light up when they find a prize under their pillow for being a brave little one. Here are six tips for how to make the most out of your first tooth fairy experience.

Know What to Expect

Your child’s young life is full of milestones. How they react to their first loose tooth depends on their coping skills for dealing with the unexpected. Fortunately, you have some time to help your little ones identify and manage their emotions before their first adult tooth starts to emerge.

Some children begin losing their baby teeth as young as 4-years-old, although most parents get a reprieve from playing tooth fairy until age six or so. Your little one might have an easier time if they encounter their first wiggle after a friend or two has already lost a tooth and shared their experience. Conversely, they might feel pressure to keep up — please reassure them that mother nature will take her course in due time.

Calm Your Little One’s Fears

Many children get excited when their first tooth grows wiggly. However, your child may react with terror — this emotion is equally normal and valid. Please don’t shame them by telling them to suck it up or confuse them by saying, “Oh, it doesn’t hurt that badly,” when they complain about pain. Doing so teaches them to doubt their perceptions and emotions.

Often, the first tooth is the worst. Try the following mom-hack to make subsequent tooth loss less tearful and filled with dinnertime temper tantrums. After your child survives the harrowing experience, have them record an advice video to give to a friend going through their first tooth loss to reassure them — never telling your little one that they can also benefit from watching when they panic at the next wiggle.

Decide on a Reward System

The most entertaining part of your first tooth fairy experience is deciding on a reward system. You can, of course, go with the traditional standby — cold, hard cash. The all-time average high occurred in 2017 when parents shelled out an average of $4.50 per tooth, but that number plummeted to $3.70 in 2018.

What if you are one of the many parents who are more than a little financially strapped amid the pandemic repercussions? If money is tight, why not seek an alternative to slipping a $5 bill beneath your little one’s pillow? You can make them king or queen for a day, letting them decide everything from the family dinner to what shows you watch on TV. Alternatively, take them on their favorite free excursion to celebrate their big day — playgrounds remain free.

Reinforce Good Oral Hygiene Techniques

Your child’s first tooth loss coincides with the developmental age when they start taking more responsibility for daily tasks like grooming. Ensure that you harness this time and don’t let them backslide on proper tooth brushing techniques. Be prepared for tears or tantrums — your little one might have valid concerns about pain, so be gentle.

However, you do want to remind them that they should brush their teeth twice a day, making one cleanse a complete job, including floss and rinse. Let them know that they must still gently brush the loose tooth without applying pressure. A fluoride mouth rinse could help prevent cavities that could form from plaque not removed through standard brushing.

Let Your Child Set the Pace

If your parents “helped” you remove a loose tooth with the old string around the doorknob trick, please retire this tradition with your generation. Yanking a baby tooth before it is ready can damage surrounding gum tissue, even injure nearby teeth. Pain and infection could result — and most parents don’t relish extra dentist visits.

While you don’t want to use outside means to remove the tooth, it’s okay for your child to wiggle it. Doing so with their finger or tongue can help it work its way out as nature intended. Most children instinctively shun pain, so you don’t have to worry about them harming themselves.

Know When to Call the Dentist

While it’s rare, a loose tooth does merit a dentist visit sometimes. If a loose baby tooth hasn’t fallen out after two to three months, go ahead and book an appointment.

Another condition that may require an appointment includes when an adult tooth emerges above a baby tooth. If the new one doesn’t have space to come in, your child could later need braces to correct a crooked smile. Your dentist may be able to extract the baby tooth so that the adult version grows straight.

Have a Positive First Tooth Fairy Experience With These Tips

Many parents and children alike look forward to their first tooth fairy visit. Use these six tips to make it a positive experience for everyone.