Many young children are apprehensive about losing their baby teeth — especially when it’s the first one. As a parent, you can ease that nervousness considerably if you just know the right things to say. Below, you’ll learn how to talk to your children about losing baby teeth, the right way.

Wait for the Right Time

It’s best not to overload your child with information about losing their teeth before they ask about it. Most kids will say something about it by the time they’re three or four years old — often, when they notice older kids with missing teeth they’ll be curious. Some kids might ask about losing teeth even earlier, sometimes as early as age two, especially if they have an older sibling that they’ve been watching closely.

When your child asks about losing teeth, always react in a positive way. Tell them that this is something that big boys and girls have to look forward to and that they’re becoming very grown up themselves. When they ask, they’re usually mature enough to have the conversation about losing their teeth.

Make it Magical

One great way to get your child fully on board — and even quite excited — about losing teeth is the tooth fairy. This tried and true tradition tends to capture the imagination of young children. If you want to really promote positivity in relation to losing teeth, consider buying a special tooth fairy pillow or bag to stow the lost teeth in. The “tooth fairy” can then leave a little gift (typically cash) in the pillow or bag — don’t forget to have some small denomination money on hand for these occasions!

Kids may enjoy the tooth fairy tradition so much that they actually look forward to losing their baby teeth — in fact, knowing that they get a reward for their teeth might make them more willing to help the teeth along by wiggling them or allowing them to be pulled out.

Ease Into the Idea of Pulling Teeth

When your child’s tooth is loose, don’t immediately suggest pulling it out — especially if it’s their first loose tooth. After all, even adults don’t enjoy tooth extractions, so they can seem really scary to young children who haven’t been through it before. Tell your child that when the tooth is loose that they can wiggle it back and forth (with freshly washed hands, of course.) If your child says it hurts to move their tooth, then tell them not to touch it any more right then. It will loosen further on its own until it’s ready to come out easily.

As your child grows older, they will likely grow more willing to have you pull the tooth out once it’s loose, but don’t push the issue because it might cause unnecessary stress. The teeth will come out sooner or later and there’s usually no need to hurry them along.

Prepare for Bleeding

While it’s unlikely that your child’s teeth will bleed dramatically after they fall out, a bit of blood is to be expected. Tell your child that they might notice a little bit of blood when the tooth comes out and that it’s completely normal and is nothing to be worried about.

Have fresh gauze on hand at all times. You can give your child squares of gauze to bite down on lightly to help control the bleeding if needed. This bleeding rarely lasts long at all, and with the distraction of the tooth fairy to look forward to your child is unlikely to dwell on the blood anyway.

Dr. Maggie Davis is a pediatric dentist who wants to help your kids grow up smiling. She offers dental exams, X-rays, fillings, restorations, bonding, sedation dentistry, and more. Dr. Davis treats young patients of all ages and is experienced in working with special needs patients as well. Contact Dr. Davis anytime to arrange a dental visit for your child.