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Losing Your First Tooth

By May 4, 2021May 7th, 2021News

Losing your first tooth is usually a major milestone for a child. Children’s feelings are predominantly positive when they lose their first baby tooth especially when the tooth fairy comes and the child receives a reward, but that’s not always the case.

An interdisciplinary team of dental researchers and developmental and health psychologists at the University of Zurich,  studied over 1200 families, to examine children’s emotional experiences when they lose their first baby tooth, and what factors influence these experiences.

Children generally lose their first milk tooth (also called a deciduous tooth) when they’re about six to seven years old. The front tooth becomes loose and eventually falls out, leaving a gap which is then permanently filled by its replacement adult tooth. This gradual process is probably one of the first biological changes which a child experiences consciously. The emotions that accompany this milestone are extremely varied, ranging from joy at having finally joined the world of grown-ups to fear about the tooth loss or discomfort. Witnessing other children going through the same experience and adult preparation for this event are helpful in allaying the child’s anxiety.

Approximately 80 per cent of parents reported positive feelings, but 20 per cent told of negative emotions which is a real concern.

The researchers found that previous visits to the dentist played a varying role when it came to children’s feelings. Children whose previous visits were cavity related and thus perhaps associated with shame or guilt experienced fewer positive emotions when they later lost their first  tooth naturally.  However, if previous dental appointments were the result of trauma, then the loss of the deciduous tooth was more likely to be associated with positive emotions. According to the researchers, one possible explanation for this is that baby teeth loosen slowly and predictably before falling out. Our experience at Coburg Dental group is that children who attend the clinic on a regular basis have a much more positive experience with all aspects of their dental health.

This is also supported by the fact that children who experience the loosening of their tooth over an extended period of time tend to have more positive feelings. The longer the preparation and waiting time, the greater the relief and pride when the tooth finally falls out.

Moreover, the study also found that socio-demographic factors can influence children’s feelings. For example, children were more likely to have positive feelings such as happiness or pride if the parents were more educated and came from non-Western countries. The researchers said cultural differences could be a factor.

Our team at Coburg Dental Group loves to see children in our clinic. Our oral health  therapist Keely Hawkes loves to treat children.  “We aim to make a visit to the dentist a fun experience which is positive and encourages good oral hygiene habits at home so that there is good growth and development of the teeth and jaws.” said Dr Jeff Kestenberg, the principal dentist at Coburg Dental Group. Many of our child patients are eligible for the Medicare Child Dental Benefits scheme so there is no out of pocket expense for the treatment.

Dr Matthew Siebel performs our orthodontic work.  “We like to do an assessment of the teeth and jaw development at around four and a half to five years of age which is usually before the first tooth falls out so that we can plan for early intervention orthodontics if it is needed.  No referral is needed to see me”  Dr Siebel added. So if you’re looking for orthodontics Preston, Dr Siebel is not far away. Our orthodontic treatment is a lot more affordable than specialist orthodontics Preston.

For further information, please contact us on 9386 1805.

Reference:  Patcas, Raphael,  International J. Paediatric Dentistry 2018, https://doi.org/10.1111/ipd.12427

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