Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Tooth Of The Matter

I was intrigued to read in Scribbit the other day that Michelle pulls out her children's loose baby teeth. She was, in fact, complaining that this job has fallen to her because her husband is too squeamish.

Let me add that I am with her husband. Just reading her post made me want to vomit.

But here's the thing (as I wrote to her): In all my years as a parent, I have never even considered pulling out a loose baby tooth. Did I miss something in the parenting manual? Are we supposed to do this? It's true that Anna managed to swallow not one, but two of her baby teeth - is it because of my neglect of this essential duty?

(We had Anna write an explanatory note to the tooth fairy, by the way, and she still received compensation. Whew.)

Michelle explained to me that her dad always pulled out her baby teeth when they were loose. She never even considered that there could be another way. The let-'em-wiggle-it-until-it-falls-out-way, say...the please-don't-even-show-it-to-me, wrap-it-in-a-napkin-and-shove-it-under-your-pillow way...

So, it's time for a poll - how many of you are proactive like Michelle (and her dad)? How many of you are lazy and neglectful and/or squeamish like yours truly?


And here's the best tooth fairy story I've ever heard, which was told to us by a former parish priest. Apparently, after earning an entire dollar for the first baby tooth that he placed under his pillow, he was entranced by the money-making possibilities of the whole tooth fairy deal. His family had a puppy which was at that point losing its first teeth, so he spent weeks assiduously collecting the discarded canine canines (ahem) and dreaming of the riches that would soon be his.

Oh, his parents tried to warn him: "It's not a good idea to try to fool the tooth fairy." But he was sure that she couldn't tell the difference and he put all the teeth under his pillow one night, confident that he would wake up in the morning to a pile of crisp one-dollar bills.

The next day, he found something under his pillow, all right - a very large Milkbone dog biscuit.

I like his parents.

[Puppy image credit: DIY Puppy Training]


  1. We only pulled if they were hanging by a thread and we just couldn't take it anymore.

    And the dog biscuit? Brilliant.

  2. I let nature take its course. My oldest (the only one to lose teeth so far) is not a wiggler. I am pretty sure that if I tried to yank out his tooth he would scream bloody murder. You should have heard him the other day when I was getting ready to pull out a tick--not even pulling it (which was practically painless), just getting ready. I have to say, it seems kind of... cruel... to pull out a kid's tooth unless he or she is totally, completely on board with it. Anyway, two teeth fell out not too long ago because the new ones pretty much pushed them right out. Like I said, not a wiggler, that kid.

  3. We are of the pull it if the kiddo wants it out. Actually my neighbor pulled many of my oldest's teeth because she wouldn't let us do it. I think it had something to do with the fact that the neighbor used Laffy Taffy to yank out teeth!

  4. I was stumped by Scribbit's post. Why would you pull out a tooth that's going to make it's way out by itself anyway? Wouldn't it probably bleed a lot more that way?


  5. Love the tooth fairy story!

    When I was five, I shoved one of my teeth out in a day after a friend of mine told me she got $5 (in 1972!) for hers. I got a quarter and a space that took about four years to grow a tooth.

    Anyhow, I'll pull my kids' teeth if it's hanging by a sharp little toothy thread, because I don't want them cutting their tongues. If I pull, we just make the cash exchange then and there. I take the tooth and hand them a dollar. (The Tooth Fairy has been known to space off and leave teeth for days under pillows around here.)

  6. Michelle says she simply didn't know that you could just let them fall out. Her dad always pulled hers out, so she never thought twice about it. That's what cracks me up.

  7. Sign me up for neglectful.

    They can pull their own teeth.

    And? If the little buggers don't fall out, like, ever? And new teeth are growing in all crooked? That's why God made dentists and laughing gas.

  8. We pulled--or had them pull--when they were almost ready to come out. My daughter's best friend would spend hours in the bathroom working a tooth out as soon as it became the least bit loose. Now that creeped me out.

  9. I'm with you, SC: totally squeamish, please don't wiggle that in front of me, eeeeek! kind of mom. And I don't do such a great job with vomit, either. Let's not even THINK about mice!!

    My 9yo has several loose teeth right now. I guess the tooth fairy had better get ready!

  10. We would just pull the tooth if it was hanging by a thread....but only if the child was totally on board. Funny how OUR tooth fairy seems to have the same problem as Jami's.....and had to compensate by paying DOUBLE on the second night!

  11. Depends on the kid. My oldest (boy,9)ASKS me to help him pull it out as soon as it's wiggly enough (he hates eatting with loose teeth). I want to be a nurse when the kids move out, so I never thought of being grossed out by it. All I think about is how to get the grip to pull it, cause it's wet in there!

    My second (girl,7) won't let me near her mouth and has her teeth so wiggly, that they move when she breathes, talks or eats.
    So for me, it's just helping my kids. My oldest does LOVE money, so he might just endure the pain because he wants the tooth fairy's 50cents faster. Yes, our tooth fairy is cheap. it was a bargin between mom's 1$ and Dad's one quarter.

  12. No one ever pulled any of my teeth... well, the dentist pulled a few, but that doesn't count. My oldest lost her first tooth a few months ago, and I ended up pulling it. In fact I TRIED pulling it many, MANY times (she begged me to) to no avail, but one night it was SO loose that I decided it must be done. Oh, she fought me, but once it was out, she was quite pleased. She hasn't had another loose one yet.

  13. When the kids were little, we would assist with the teeth pulling, mostly to stop the kid from constantly having their hands in their mouths, wiggling their teeth. As they get older, they just yank them out themselves.

    When my daughter lost her first tooth, the tooth fairy....forgot to show up. Imagine my surprise when she came running into my room the next morning, waving a dollar that she found under her pillow.
    I later found out that her older brother (who was only 7 at the time) had checked under her pillow before she did, and noticed that the fairy hadn't shown up, so he took a dollar out of his bank and put it under her pillow so she wouldn't feel bad.

    The next morning the tooth fairy left a dollar under his pillow to reimburse him for her stupid mistake.

  14. I just let the kids pull them out themselves if they wanted to. I pulled my own out when I was a kid. Did you ever have the book "Bruce's Loose Tooth" about Bruce, his loose tooth, a goose and a caboose? It had a string running through the whole book and I loved it as a kid!

    And the milk-bone story? I love his parents too, very very clever!!!

  15. Are you serious? It would never have occurred to me to actually pull out their loose teeth. In fact, in my twenty years as a parent, this is the first I heard of such a thing. Weird.

    And my Daughter also swallowed two of her baby teeth and another got accidentally thrown out by a classmate.

    Like you, we wrote notes to the Toothfairy and she was very good about it.

  16. i read that post - and until then had totally closed off that nasty chapter of parenthood (wiggely teeth with blood here and there are right after puke on my list).

    as i child, i pulled out the teeth myself, except for one or two that didn't want to come out. my sister helped me with that, i believe.

    btw, there is no tooth fairy in germany. we're cheap that way


  17. We always went the "natural" way, too. My dad tried to get me to let him pull one of mine a time or two, but it never happened. And I never pulled any of my four children's teeth. They'll come out eventually.

    I did however keep each first lost tooth. I have four of them in my jewelry box. Don't ask me whose is whose, though. It seems a little gross now that I think about it and even the kids think it's a little weird.

  18. I read Michelle's tooth post and was equally eww'd by it. I admit she is more woman than me! I am a let it fall out on its own kinda Mom. When my eldest was young he had some extensive 'toof' surgery and was knocked out from the meds. I went in that night, in my white night gown and shoved money guiltily under his pillow. The next morning he said the Tooth Angel came, I corrected him that it was the Tooth Fairy. He said, "No Mama, I saw her, she was dressed in white, she was an angel." Moments like that make all this parenting stuff worthwhile.

  19. I would have been happy to let Miss Pink's come out naturally, but she wanted them out. As I commented on Michelle's post, she had the school nurse pull one and her dad did the other. I didn't have to see either event happen. She said it didn't hurt, so that was good since she is usually extremely dramatic about any type of pain.

    I never wanted mine pulled as a child. My dad used to teasingly threaten to tie the tooth to the doorknob and slam the door. *shudder*

  20. J likes to pull her own- I don't like to pull hurts me to do that...eek

  21. My. God. I am sick to my stomach, and yet I couldn't rip my horrified eyes off that picture of the tooth with the ROOT STILL ATTACHED.
    It never ever ever ever ever occurred to me I was supposed to pull out my children's teeth. And THANK GOD.

    We also have done the note, both for lost/swallowed teeth and for forgotten teeth (like I forgot to be the tooth fairy) (Wait. WHAT? The Tooth Fairy ISN'T real...?)

  22. Hmm,

    My kids are not old enough, so I don't fall in either category, but when i was growing up we had our teeth pulled when they were almost ready to come out. All of my friends and classmates had the same done to them, mostly with the string. (Maybe, it's the Russian thing?) If not for this post, it would've never occurred to me that there was another way. You might have saved me some aggravation, LOL!

  23. UM...My oldest is nearly four, so I'm not there yet. BUT, I never imagined pulling out my children's teeth. Nope, not gonna do it.

  24. 3 of my five have lost teeth now. I've never pulled a tooth. I've wiggled them to test looseness at their request, but have never pulled. Because, why? It'll come. And as I think about it, I guess I am a little squeamish about pulling, but it never struck me as an issue, because...again, why?

  25. My kids wait so long for their loose teeth to fall out that the permanent teeth usually grow in right under them. When they finally fall out they are little flat stubs of teeth.

    My fingers do not belong anywhere near their germy little mouths!

  26. I only ever try to pull it out if they beg me to, but I've never managed to do it yet. (I admit I didn't try too hard!) We usually just let it fall out on it's own.

    Now a question for you - Is our tooth the fairy the only one who frequently forgets to visit the FIRST night the tooth falls out? Or do other people find that the tooth fairy can be rather forgetful?

  27. wait! we can write a note to the tooth fairy and explain why she should leave us money!!? WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SO SOONER!?

    My parents never pulled out my teeth. I'm sure I wouldn't have let them...that whole process traumatized me. It's gross I tell you! GROSS!

  28. It never once occurred to me that a parent would actually WANT to pull their children's teeth. My dad jokingly suggested it once or twice, but mostly he just encouraged me to wiggle it until it came out on its own, and to try not to swallow it on accident. ::shudder:: Yuck! I can't imagine having to do that now. I don't know how we managed to survive all the disgusting things we had to do as kids, like wiggle our loose teeth out. Blech!

  29. Lazy/squeamish here. I couldn't even wiggle my *own* teeth out. But hey, "normal" is what the norm was, and for your friend, "normal" was her dad helping nature a long a little. Even if that doesn't feel normal to you or me.

  30. Have never considered pulling my children's teeth. They are not of that age yet but when we get there, nature will be allowed to follow its course.

  31. I'm a non-puller. The very thought of pulling makes me nauseous. And I remember very clearly when my mom pulled out a tooth that was "just hanging on by a thread"--it was painful, I freaked out and bled everywhere, and she swore she'd never do it again.

    Does that make me lazy? I never though of it that way!

  32. AnonymousMay 03, 2009

    here is a link for you :)

  33. I pulled one. O. wouldn't let me near him after that and in fact, does not tell me that they are loose until after they have fallen out. Apparently he did not like me pulling out his tooth.

  34. The kids usually bring the teeth to me once they've fallen out. No big. We did have one where the new tooth was coming in but it didn't knock the old one out first. We had to wiggle that one. Eew.

    We sometimes forget to let the tooth fairy in. Ahem. Does anyone else have to go "looking for that quarter" under the pillow for them? They never can find the tooth, and I can usually palm the quarter under the pillow without them noticing. "Well, here it is, honey. Right here." ;)

  35. I read her post the other day too and was confused as well as nauseated.

    Growing up we always just pulled them out ourselves after days and days of wiggling.

    And when my son's first loose tooth refused to start wiggling and the permanent tooth was growing up behind it, I took him to the dentist. I prefer to let nature take it's course or let the professionals take over when nature isn't doing it's job.

  36. I also let nature take its course---but I grew up with a Dad that would tie a string around our teeth and tie it to a door---then count "1, 2,...and shut the door! He told us that he was going to count to 3. Oh, dear, another memory for my Monday memory post....

    Cute story, also.

  37. Julie in PAMay 03, 2009

    Wow, I never realized there were people who don’t pull their kids’ teeth out! Lol. Sometimes my kids’ teeth fall out on their own, but a lot of times the tooth is just hanging there by a thread. You can’t just let them walk around with their tooth just hanging there—gross!

    Oh, and yes the tooth fairy has forgotten to show up at our house a few times too, and the Easter bunny was late once also but that's another story!

  38. Dog biscuit? Awesome idea! :)

  39. Eww, gross! The idea of pulling baby teeth makes me want to hurl, and I was relieved when I recently looked online and found that we are NOT SUPPOSED TO pull out baby teeth. It can cause infection or something -- I don't know, I quit reading once I found what I wanted to hear.



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