Dental Lessons can come from anyone, even a mythical creature like the Tooth Fairy. We have not mentioned her in a long time. However, if you have young children or grandchildren, you know all about the Tooth Fairy. Did you know that last Saturday was National Tooth Fairy Day? The President of our American Association of Pediatric, Dr. Jessica Y. Lee recently gave some dental lessons in honor of the Tooth Fairy’s holiday.
Dental Lessons and a Tooth Fairy Celebration
She was invited interviewed by the app, Caribu. This is an app that encourages connections between kids and parents, grandparents, uncles, or aunts who cannot physically be with them. The Caribu app allows kids to read a book, color, or play games with a loved one in a video-call.
“Grandparents, uncles, or aunts that can’t physically be with the little ones can connect in a meaningful way using the Caribu App.” Connecting the children with their relatives in an online playdate involves a library of carefully curated children’s books. It also requires coloring, games, and read-aloud experiences. Now, here is the good part. Some of the books contain dental lessons and storylines every child would love.
Special Dental Lessons from Literature
The special occasion of National Tooth Fairy Day brought a spotlight to those books and the lessons behind them. Dr. Jessica Y. Lee shared both the significance of proper oral healthcare and from books, stories told by the Tooth Fairy.
Dr. Jessica Lee stated, “It’s tremendously important to have books on digital platforms now because children connect.” And she added, in reference to dental visits, “They read stories over and over. They watch shows over and over. It sets the stage for such a positive visit. It’s something they’re looking forward to. They can relate it to a character that’s on the app.”
Dr. Lee Might Be the Tooth Fairy in Disguise
She shared that children repeated their stories to her with comments like, ‘Oh, that’s the chair that was in the book I read!’” She explained that, as a dentist, she could “play that up a little bit.” She said, “Even if it’s a short story or a short app, they remember the details.”
Dental Lessons in Courage
Thus, her young patients would relax and exhibit less fear because they read the stories. As previously mentioned, Dr. Lee is the Chair of the Division of Pediatric and Public Health at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Additionally, she is also a dentist at the UNC School of Dentistry and UNC Hospital. Here is her hint for parents. Reading books with an interesting dental theme or lesson can have a calming effect on children’s nerves when they visit the dentist.
The Big Dental Lesson Shared by Pediatric Dentists and the Tooth Fairy,
She shared how dental lessons within the stories help pediatric Dentists. Then, she explained “For a pediatric dentist, it really helps us. “They [the patients] know what the dentist is going to do, and they know what to look out for. They know that the chair will move up and down and that the dentist will count their teeth!
Here at Dentistry for Children, we agree with her on one of her most profound statements. “We want kids not to be afraid of going to the dentist. We want children to have a fun visit when they see us.” Dr. Troy King, here at Dentistry for Children, has said this many times. It’s one of his favorite dental lessons.
Here are a few top hits from the children’s Caribu reading list: Enny Penny’s Loose Tooth, Slumberina, the Tooth Fairy’s friend, The Mystery of the Missing Tooth, and Going To the Dentist. Dr. Lee brought out how reading books with kids about losing baby teeth or visiting the dentist can encourage them to learn about their dental health.
Dental Lessons beyond the Fairy’s Tale
Losing baby teeth is a rite of passage. It’s a significant moment that reaches far beyond the pocket change under the pillow. “When kids lose their baby teeth, it is an important milestone in their lives. Losing the tooth may on the surface not seem like a big deal…” However, “it’s a huge life event for a child of that age.” Dr. Lee added, “It’s a transition that shows that things are happening; that they’re in kindergarten and not in preschool, and that they can make some big kids’ decisions.”
She encourages families to celebrate the loss of each tooth. And she added, “Especially in times like now. It’s amazing to celebrate when something ‘normal’ happens!”
Have you shared stories about the Tooth Fairy with your children? Dr. Lee encourages families to share their memories about the Tooth Fairy to mark the occasion. She said, “Kids have a great imagination. Their imaginative spirit, their joy, and the playtime that you share are really more important than ever. It’s a source of comfort to grow up with those stories.”
Dental Care, COVID-19, and Tooth Fairy Advice
Like Dr. Lee, we know that parents might still have deep concerns over dental visits and care. This is especially true as COVIDA-19 continues to lurk in our lives. However, as she says, “Although families might have concerns about dental visits and care during the COVID-19 pandemic…it’s important to stick to regular dental check-ups and to contact your dentist with concerns.”
Dentistry for Children joins her in saying, “Let’s keep the communication going even now.” Likewise, Dr. Lee stated, “I tell parents—please communicate with me. 99 percent of the time I can answer questions over the phone.”
- Contact your dentist if you have any questions.
- “We can answer them through a tele-dentistry visit or phone conversation as opposed to you having to worry about it!”
- Dentistry for Children wants you to know that every effort continues to be given to your health and safety in regards to COVID-19, and the other viruses, like the flu. We are enforcing safety measures.
- Like Dr. Lee, we dress in PPE— gowns, gloves, face shields, and we try to make it fun and unthreatening.
- Our offices are continually sanitized. “You’ll find that dental offices have more spacing. Additionally, we do symptom checks, and we are practicing social distancing…”
Also Like Dr. Lee, we repeat the importance of dental cleaning and check-ups. We do not want to see a tiny cavity become a big one. Nor do we want it to turn into an infection that not even the Tooth Fairy could fix.
Now, let’s look at four lessons from the Tooth Fairy, Dr. Lee, and our own Dentistry for Children dentist, Dr. Troy King.
- Dental Care Lessons-Number One: Dental Lessons in Creating RoutinesWe join Dr. Lee in reminding parents to build good dental habits–Our Routine Dental Care Lessons. The rituals begin with brushing twice per day: once in the morning, and once before bed.
- A Special Night Lesson–Oral Hygiene Regime: Dental Care Lessons Number Two: Dr. Lee said, “The nighttime routine is the most important one,” she said. “We don’t want any of the plaque to sit overnight. Read a story, listen to music, integrate brushing your teeth into the nighttime routine, and it will become a habit for a lifetime.” And the more we research about good oral habits, the more we realize how very connected mouth health is to overall health.
- Brush Teeth You Want to Keep–Dental Care Lessons: Number Three: To put it simply, good oral hygiene is a lifetime investment in overall health.
- Dental Care Lessons-Number Four: Dental Care is a Family Affair! Even toddlers need to be “involved in the cleaning process.” We also agree that, like Dr. Lee, “Little kids can’t always brush by themselves, but they should participate. Let them pick the brush or the toothpaste so they’re invested. They like to be involved in it.”
Terrific Take-Away: Disrupted Routines and COVID-19 Sheltering Repercussions
Here at Dentistry for Children, when we stopped sheltering in place and resumed scheduling for exams and cleanings, we were a little shocked about the damage even a short amount of neglect can bring to young mouths. Certainly, decay doesn’t heal. It just gets worse, left unattended.
We have special advice for families who get shuttered at home during this coming fall, with sickness, flu, or viruses: Be Tooth-Care-Aware.
Dr. Lee puts it this way, “Because we all were sheltering at home for so many months, we were all snacking more because we had more access to snacks.”
- “We need to make sure that if we snack more, we brush our teeth more.
- If we have more exposure to sugars and other carbohydrates, we need to keep our teeth clean.”
- And we would add that we absolutely must not get out of the habit of regular check-ups and dental cleanings.
Note to Parents:
Check out the Caribu (not Caribou) App for dental stories. Plus, discover more tips about your child’s dental health, by visiting the AAPD website. Explore the parent’s section. You will find articles, downloadable printables, activities, and even a Tooth Fairy Message.