So you just lost or you’re getting ready to lose your first tooth. How exciting! You’ll be getting your adult teeth in sooner than you know and moving on up in the world. But first, there’s that one burning question you just have to know the answer to.
Is the tooth fairy real?
The Mystery of the Tooth Fairy
While I have never personally seen the tooth fairy, I can tell you that sprite is alive and well. I myself was visited by the tooth fairy a few times when I was a kid, and my children have gotten visits of their own, as well.
In my experience, the tooth fairy leaves something a little different almost every time. Sometimes it’s a little bit of money, other times it’s a note or maybe some other kind of small treat.
Here’s the thing, though, the tooth fairy prefers teeth that are in great shape. The tooth fairy isn’t going to be as generous for teeth that have a lot of cavities. That’s why it’s important to brush and floss your teeth every day and go to the dentist for teeth cleanings twice a year.
So, what does the tooth fairy do with those teeth, exactly? We may never know for certain, but there are plenty of theories out there. She might use them to make magical fairy dust, they could go towards making her castle, or maybe she’s just collecting them. What do you think the tooth fairy uses those teeth for?
Origins of the Tooth Fairy
It’s difficult to trace exactly when the tooth fairy came about or how. In the United States, the first time it showed up in the news was in a Chicago newspaper in the early 1900s. Her roots go back much further than that, though.
There are records written that date all the way back to right around the year 900 to the Norse people in Europe. There are texts that talk about something called the “tand-fe,” which translates to “tooth fee.”
The tand-fe describes children being left a small amount of money after losing their first tooth (sound familiar?). People in those countries had many superstitions surrounding teeth. They were thought to be valuable and bring good luck.
For the Parents
Ok parents, now that we have (hopefully) gotten far enough down the page that the kids have stopped reading, we can talk.
When you’ve got kids of your own, it’s a lot of fun to pass down traditions like the tooth fairy, just like your parents did for you when you were a kid. This one, in particular, is a great way to get your little ones to pay attention to their oral hygiene and develop good habits that can last them a lifetime.
Talking About the Tooth Fairy
It’s really up to you what to reward your child with when they lose a tooth. That’s the easy part. But eventually, they’re going to come to you and ask, “is the tooth fairy real?”
How you answer that is going to depend on their age. If they are ready to hear it, you can tell them what’s up. If they’re still a little young for that, your best bet is to let them guide the conversation.
Instead of trying to come up with an answer right off the cuff, go with something like, “well, what do you think?” That gives a chance for you to see how their imagination has run with the idea of the tooth fairy and can help you answer them.
The big thing here is to make sure you’re reinforcing the meaning behind the tooth fairy: the importance of healthy oral hygiene. Continuing the tradition of leaving behind a little treat of some kind for a recently lost tooth is a great reward for keeping those baby teeth from getting cavities before they fell out to make room for the grown-up teeth.
Don’t Stop Believing
The mystery surrounding the tooth fairy as kids go through this sort of rite of passage towards being young adults can be a really fun time for parents. Like many other things in life, believing is half the battle, so a little reward for a baby tooth can go a long way.
Seeing the wonder in the kids’ eyes and helping them learn how important brushing and flossing are magical moments in and of themselves, much less the magic of the tooth fairy herself. Enjoy it while it lasts. Those moments truly do come and go entirely too fast.
Despite advances in oral care in the United States, about 26% of adults have untreated tooth decay. When that is left untreated long enough, it ends with a tooth extraction. Instead of getting a dental bridge or dentures, you’ve got the option of dental implants.
What Are Dental Implants?
A dental implant is basically a full-on replacement for your teeth. Instead of just being like a cap or a denture, the implant is actually attached to the jawbone to make it a more permanent solution. Dental implants function exactly like normal teeth, and they’re made up of three main components.
The implant is the first of those components. This is the part that is inserted into your jaw. It’s basically a screw that goes into the jaw and functions like the root of the tooth.
Next, you have the abutment. It’s a connector that attaches to the implant and will hold the third and final component of the dental implants.
That third part is the crown, which is a prosthetic tooth. It’s often made of porcelain or zirconium, which makes it look good and makes it very durable.
How Dental Implant Surgery Works
Dental implant surgery is usually an outpatient surgery that is done in several stages. Going through the entire process often takes several months.
The steps for receiving a dental implant are:
Removing the damaged tooth
Preparing the jawbone, sometimes grafting if necessary
Placing the implant
Allowing for bone growth and healing
Placing the abutment
Placing the artificial tooth
When the surgeon places the implant, he or she will cut the gum to expose the bone. Then a hole is drilled into the bone for the metal post to be placed. It has to be placed deep into the bone because it’s meant to serve as the tooth’s root.
After the post is in place, you’ll wait for the area to heal before moving onto the next step. At this point, you will have a gap where the artificial tooth will go, but you can get a partial denture to use temporarily. You’re waiting period is to allow the jawbone time to grow into the surface of the dental implant so it fuses together. The process is called osseointegration.
Once that process is complete, you’ll go back to the surgeon to have the abutment placed. That’s the piece the crown will attach to. Sometimes you’ll need another minor surgery to make this happen. The surgeon will have to reopen the gum to get access to the implant and put the abutment in place. Once the abutment is where it needs to be, you’ll have another couple of weeks for your gums to heal before the crown can be put on top.
The Benefits of Dental Implants
There are several advantages dental implants have over other methods of tooth replacement. They’re arguably the best looking solution available, which will make you feel better about your smile. If you’re not worrying about people noticing a difference between your real teeth and the replacement, this is the way to go.
Looks aside, dental implants have many practical advantages, too. As far as comfort goes, you won’t get anything better. With the implants looking and functioning just like your real teeth, you won’t really notice any difference in how they feel. There’s also no risk of poor fitment like you can get with dentures. That eliminates any speech problems or issues you may have while eating.
In addition, you’ll see lasting oral health benefits when you go with dental implants. You brush and floss like you would with your original teeth. All of the oral hygiene you’ve learned still applies, and there’s no new trick you have to learn.
You also don’t have to worry about having your other teeth reduced as you do with dental bridges. That means there is more longevity with a dental implant and less of a likelihood you’ll experience complications.
The Cost of Dental Implants
As with most health-related issues, costs for procedures such as this one can vary wildly depending on your specific condition, which surgeon you go to, and what your insurance will cover. Some plans include dental implant coverage while others don’t. You’ll need to have that conversation before you go in to have the surgery so you don’t end up with an unexpected bill.
In general, this procedure can cost anywhere from about $3,000 – $6,000 without insurance coverage. That’s for the entire procedure, from the damaged tooth removal all the way through placing the artificial tooth. Be sure to discuss the financial aspects and your insurance coverage thoroughly before undergoing this procedure. It may not be feasible for you if the price is too high, in which case you’ll need to look at dentures or a dental bridge to fix the problem.
When you need to see a dentist you probably don’t think about what kind of dentist to go to. Just like with medical doctors, there are many different types of dentists that specialize in certain areas.
Most of the time your general dentist will refer you to the right type of specialist if you need specialized care. There are some instances where you might need to know what you’re looking for, though. These 7 are the most common types you’re likely to run into.
A general dentist is the most common type of dentist there is. Anyone who earns a dental degree can practice as a general dentist.
This is where you’re going to go most of the time. You can get routine cleanings, emergency exams, gum disease diagnosis and treatment, and fillings when you have cavities. This is also where you could get things like crowns and veneers. Basically, anything that has to do with the restoration or beautification of your teeth can be done by your general dentist.
A pediatric dentist is who you’ll take your kids to see for their general dentistry needs. It’s like the dental version of a pediatrician.
Some general dentists will also see children, but many parents prefer to go to pediatric dentists because they specialize in treating children from the time their first teeth come in all the way through getting their adult teeth. Those offices are typically more kid-friendly, too, which can help remove some of the anxiety that some children experience with trips to the dentist.
An orthodontist is where you go if you need to straighten out your jaw or your teeth. An orthodontist will use something like braces or Invisalign to turn crooked teeth or fix an overbite or underbite.
Periodontists take care of your gums, bone, and tissue that supports your teeth. They are essentially gum disease experts and are there to help you prevent and treat the condition.
A periodontist will see you if a general dentist has done a cleaning or deep cleaning and your teeth or gums aren’t responding to treatment. The specialist will then be able to address any recessed gums, pockets, bone grafting, extractions, or implants as necessary.
Also known as root canal specialists, endodontists treat the nerves of your teeth. Inside of each tooth, you’ll find what’s called the pulp, along with blood vessels and nerves. When your tooth gets cracked or a cavity goes too deep, it can impact the pulp and lead to nerve damage. That damage can end up killing your tooth. Endodontists have the ultimate goal of saving your teeth so they don’t need to be extracted.
An oral surgeon is one of the types of dentists that perform surgery on your mouth. They’re most widely known for doing wisdom teeth extractions. Wisdom teeth are the ones in the very back of your mouth that come up last. Many times they don’t have enough room to erupt, so they end up becoming impacted and can potentially cause problems for the rest of your teeth.
Oral surgeons can also handle extractions, jaw surgeries, implants, facial trauma surgeries, and even biopsies for spots in your mouth that are concerning. Many times they work closely with ear, nose, and throat doctors, too.
If you need a tooth replaced, you’re going to be seeing a prosthodontist (think prosthetics). They handle dentures, crowns, bridges, and other types of treatment that improve the appearance of your teeth. That includes whitening and veneers.
Prosthodontists will also help treat Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ). They can assist with getting rid of pain caused by the pressure on nerves from the jaw disease, often using bite guards or some type of physical therapy.