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Who says the Tooth Fairy isn’t real?

Every parent of a young child knows about the Tooth Fairy. This mythical being reaches out to each child who has lost a baby tooth and left it underneath their pillow for the fairy. She visits each child’s bedroom and replaces the tooth with a monetary award. In days of old, this started out as a dime or perhaps a 25 cent piece. With inflation, the Fairy must adhere to the Cost of Living Index, the Carbon Tax and GST, and the average reward for such teeth is now $3.44 ea.
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Every parent of a young child knows about the Tooth Fairy. This mythical being reaches out to each child who has lost a baby tooth and left it underneath their pillow for the fairy. She visits each child’s bedroom and replaces the tooth with a monetary award. In days of old, this started out as a dime or perhaps a 25 cent piece. With inflation, the Fairy must adhere to the Cost of Living Index, the Carbon Tax and GST, and the average reward for such teeth is now $3.44 ea. Statistically, 40 per cent of parents today admit to coughing up $5 per tooth!

This habit generally continues until the baby teeth are gone forever, which coincidentally is about age 9 when it is virtually impossible to fool them about anything. Has anyone noticed that children who are above this age threshold still want a visit from ‘Santa Claus’, the ‘Tooth Fairy’, and the ‘Easter Bunny’?

First, think about the scope of business these three mythical characters play on the economy of the North American world. The financial ramifications are huge for retailers, manufacturers, and marketers. We live in a very complex society. We worship different Gods, we eat different foods, we speak a multitude of languages in every single Canadian city, and special event celebrations in some families look like a dinner at the United Nations! In dental offices our team members are often from mixed backgrounds, and we all manage quite well by celebrating our differences. Christmas is generically welcomed by everyone for ending one year and starting another, regardless of whether one is Christian or otherwise. Christmas is huge. The Easter Bunny is huge.

Candy, chocolate, and confectionary suppliers gear up for that date because they know that children between 3 and 83 are likely to be rewarded with treats on that day. For children beginning to lose baby teeth at age 5-7, this is prime time to join the parade along with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Many parents are also wishing their child wouldn’t grow up so fast, and mutually enjoy yet another stage of childhood joys to share.

What these mythical events do is encourage talk and good fellowship. Anything that accomplishes that is generally regarded as ‘good’. The Tooth Fairy provides an explanation for the changing mouths in children. Some parents explain that the fairy helps other younger children achieve teeth with these ones that are no longer needed by this ‘big’ child. It is the ideal time to encourage good hygiene habits amongst young children. In fact, it should begin as early as age 2. In dentistry, we see today some of the very worst times for fear of dentistry and abysmal hygiene conditions in some mouths.

Yes, we do have the most modern dentistry available, but frankly – some parents and caregivers have dropped the ball. Some of that is manipulation by children who have learned that they do have the power to make either mom or dad (or both) do exactly what they want. We see kids with a dozen cavities in their mouth at age 5, because nobody has brushed properly. Parents have to make dental hygiene a ‘family affair’, and participate with kids. Brush their teeth for them when they cannot, and don’t allow yourself to be manipulated with a 15-second splash and dash by children. Don’t be afraid to have them see parents brushing their teeth too. This is often done behind closed doors.

In Korea, the fairy’s place is taken by the magpie, who looks on the roof for teeth. Children and parents toss them up on the roof for the magpie who is a messenger between gods and humans.

In Japan and parts of China, lower teeth are sometimes buried and upper teeth are tossed upwards, to encourage the spirits to have the new replacement teeth grow in straight! We see patients from Central and South America who tell us of ‘Raton Perez’, their version of the tooth fairy who happens to be a mouse! She still exchanges teeth for gifts under the pillow.

Some of the fairies leave a note thanking them for their tooth, and perhaps personalize it with a reference to a sibling who may have experienced it already. The ‘sign-off’ is for a happy and healthy mouth.

Who said the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist? The power of the mind creates wonderful and positive tales!

Dr. Michael Dolynchuk is a General Dentist practicing in Caroline and Red Deer.