Every year, the Tooth Fairy comes by and swaps out lost teeth for cool gifts or a little bit of cash. As a parent, you can turn this fun tradition into a learning tool. With Santa, you teach good behavior and the spirit of giving. With the Tooth Fairy, you can teach good oral health habits and the value of brushing. The right tools let you turn a fun fairy into a solid teaching tool. Here are a few ways to incorporate teaching into the fun of a tooth exchange.
Leave a Note – Along with whatever presents you plan to leave or money, make sure to leave a note from the Tooth Fairy. Make sure to extoll good dental habits in the note and make it look as authentic as possible. You can use special stationery that has tooth-related decorations, sprinkle on some fairy dust and add illustrations. This will make the note feel like fun, even as it reminds kids to brush their teeth twice a day and remember to floss.
Introduce the Tooth Fairy Early – Even though most kids don’t lose their first tooth until age five or six, you can start introducing her earlier than that. Tell stories about the tooth fairy and read books that use her as a character. Several animated movies include references to the Tooth Fairy. Make sure she is a well-developed character, long before they lose their first tooth. Also, include factoids that push good dental habits. Explain that the Tooth Fairy has better gifts for better quality teeth.
Add Dental Health Supplies to the Haul – While most kids expect a cash gift in return for their tooth, you can also include some other fun items that relate to teeth. Look for toothpaste in a new fun flavor or a toothbrush that features a favorite character. This will reinforce the idea that the Tooth Fairy cares about the condition of their teeth.
Introduce Props – For Christmas, you might set out a plate of milk and cookies. For the Tooth Fairy, you can do something similar with a pillow shaped like a tooth or a designated item to handle the exchange. Things like pillows with a pocket make storing the tooth for collection both fun and more convenient when you go into their rooms at night to leave presents. You can also set something up for their bedside table, so you will be less likely to wake up your child during the Tooth Fairy’s visit. Makaboo.com has several items that work well when setting the scene the night before.
Decorate Items – If you do choose to leave cash as the major exchange item, you can decorate it to look more authentic. Sign a bill from the Tooth Fairy and sprinkle some glitter to act as fairy dust. A tooth-shaped stencil can help you make a permanent mark, so the bill looks like it came directly from the fairy herself. If you are using coins, find something unusual. A couple of fifty cent pieces make a much bigger statement than a one dollar bill. If you use coins, you can even add glitter to the edges to make them sparkle.
Leave a Receipt – A receipt can give information about the value of the tooth, based on your child’s dental habits. If they have been regularly brushing, you can mark the tooth in excellent condition. If they forget or rush through brushing, it may only rate a ‘good’ on the receipt. In either case, tieing in the shape of the tooth to the gift left behind can remind kids that taking care of their teeth is important.
Create Crafts – Get your kids involved in the preparation for the Tooth Fairy with some crafts projects. They can decorate their toothbrush or make one to leave for the Tooth Fairy along with their tooth. You could also work with them to decorate a pillow to leave the tooth on, so the Tooth Fairy will see at a glance where to find the small chomper. The more fun you make the legend, the more likely kids are to get engaged and think about their teeth.
Learning about oral hygiene doesn’t need to be a chore or a fight. If you make brushing teeth fun and exciting, you child will be more likely to enjoy it and remember to do it without reminders. The Tooth Fairy is a convenient and fun way to liven up daily brushing. Use your imagination and get into the fun of creating ways to bring the Tooth Fairy and her message of good dental health to life.
Leo Collins is at dental school, and as an Uncle to his 5 nieces and nephews has taken a keen interest in their oral hygiene. He hopes to become a qualified paediatric dentist in the not too distant future. In the meantime he writes articles for health and parenting blogs in his free time.