Preschool Years at Home

Laughing, Loving, and Learning Together

Another Milestone …

on March 7, 2013

“My teeth hurt too bad to eat!” Little Bear complained Monday. She’s slowly recuperating from a nasty respiratory infection, complete with cold sores, so I assumed she was erroneously ascribing her general mouth pain to her teeth.

… Until I brushed her teeth Tuesday afternoon and discovered that her lower left central incisor was noticeably out of place and standing at almost a 45-degree angle inside her mouth. A quick examination revealed that BOTH of her lower central incisors were loose … to the point that she really was struggling to bit such things as carrot sticks, apple slices, and other crunchy foods.

My first thought was that our calamity-prone child had somehow knocked her own teeth loose, and I immediately began to quiz her.

“Has anything hit you in the mouth recently?” I asked. “Have you fallen on anything? Have you pulled anything over onto yourself? Have you run into anything? Have you dropped a book or the iPad or anything else on your face?” (All of the above have been known to happen.)

Little Bear assured me that she had not injured her mouth in any way and that her teeth had just mysteriously started hurting over the weekend. That’s when we examined her mouth more closely and discovered two new teeth already pushing their way through her gum line.

I was still not mentally prepared, however, to believe that my “little” girl, just 4 1/2 years old, was already losing teeth. So I turned to Dr. Google. With a bit of research, I discovered that most children lose their first teeth between the ages of 5-6, with girls generally loosing teeth a bit earlier than boys. I also confirmed that while 4 1/2 may be a bit younger than average, it’s still within  “normal” range for tooth loss, especially if a child teethed at a young age. Um, yeah, Little Bear’s lower incisors popped through when she was about 10 weeks old. She definitely qualified as “teething at a young age.”

Little Bear does not do well with pain … or the mere thought of anything that might cause pain. We opted to let nature take its course and wait for the teeth to fall out on their own.

The girls were participating in a toddler/preschooler art class at a local museum this morning, so we decided to have a picnic lunch at a nearby outdoor playground. Little Bear had repeatedly climbed to the peak of the highest play structure, slid down a gigantic spiral slide, run around the play structure, climbed back up, and slid again. Baby Bear insisted on following suit, so I was stationed at the top making sure my daring 21-month-old didn’t tumble over the edge and fall nearly two stories to the ground. When I saw Little Bear reach the bottom and deviate from her usual pattern to run over to the picnic table and Daddy Bear, I assumed she needed a drink. Moments later, though, she was back by my side, jumping up and down with excitement.

“Mommy, Mommy! Look in my mouth!”

I looked and saw blood — along with a gaping hole.

“You lost your tooth!” I exclaimed. (Nothing like stating the obvious!)

“Yes!” she replied. “I was wiggling it with my tongue as I went down the slide and it just fell out!”

Now, when a 4 1/2-year-old has just lost her first tooth, life can’t just go on as normal. I wasn’t sure whether to breathe a sigh of relief because the tooth had come out on its own, without tears or distress (and without her accidentally swallowing it!) or whether to cry because my “baby” had just taken an undeniable (albeit involuntary) step toward adulthood. I really wanted to cry. But I didn’t. (At least, not then.) Instead, I pulled her into a tight Mama Bear hug, gave her a kiss, congratulated her, and high-fived her all at the same time. Then I started racking my brain to come up with ideas for celebrating the first lost tooth.

As most things do in this house, The First Tooth Celebration called for stories:

It involved cupcakes (because Little Bear wanted cupcakes).

It involved chatting and daydreaming and wondering what the Tooth Fairy does with all those lost teeth.

It involved a healthy dose of skepticism. “Because, Mommy, Fairies aren’t real. They’re just pretend.”

It involved a little bit of handwriting, as Little Bear put her tooth in an envelope and painstakingly addressed it to the Tooth Fairy. (Gotta slip fine motor work in wherever we can!)

It involved role play with stuffed animals and Snap ‘n Style dolls and magnetic dress-up dolls.

It involved staying up too late, then laying in bed beside a little girl who just couldn’t go to sleep because she wanted to catch a glimpse of the tooth fairy (whose existence she still isn’t sure about).

It involved some creative writing on Mommy’s part, along with temporary defacing of U.S. currency. (I promise, the glittery “fairy dust” I used to edge her $5 bill will wear off in short order!)

It involved an early morning “The Tooth Fairy came! The Tooth Fairy came! And she took my tooth and left me a letter with money on it!” wake-up call.

It involved more skepticism as Little Bear contemplated the letter and said, “I don’t think the Tooth Fairy put this under my pillow. I think you did it after I was sleeping because fairies aren’t real! And I don’t think that’s fairy dust. I think it’s really glitter.”

It involved an ultimate choice to believe — for now — because “the Tooth Fairy is so much fun!”

Sadly, it did not involve pictures, because Mommy discovered late in the day that our camera was on the fritz. Still, we had fun, made memories, and entered the world of “lost teeth” as a family. (Toothless pictures will soon follow!)


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