a young girl is crying because of a loose tooth
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Here’s the Only Thing That Worked to Get My Daughter Over Her Fear of Losing Teeth

Apr 24, 2018

I couldn’t tell you when my daughter got her first tooth. In fact, a friend with an infant asked recently and I couldn’t remember. I know I tried the homeopathic stuff and couldn’t tell if it was working, and that my kid preferred an ice cube wrapped in a facecloth to any of the teething rings or gadgets. I can, however, tell you the first time my daughter gave a doughnut away — and this is related.

We were walking around our weekly local farmer’s market, checking out produce. Anna, who was five at the time, had these mini doughnuts on a stick and was happily wandering around snacking. A friend stopped to say hi. Anna unexpectedly and forcefully demanded she take the doughnuts. I couldn't help but wonder why. My kid doesn’t have the biggest sweet tooth and is good at sharing, but this was still very uncharacteristic. The doughnut giveaway turned into hysterics I couldn’t quite make sense of, and then she began demanding napkins which she proceeded to shove into her mouth. Was my child possessed?


Relevant Reading: How I Became The Tooth Fairy Other Parents Weren’t Too Fond Of — But Kids Loved


Here’s what was happening: My kid is terrified of blood. Though she’d been ecstatic to find herself with her first loose tooth, and was eager and excited to lose it, she’d not considered the blood factor. After seeing a friend lose her first tooth at the park, terror set in. My kid has loose teeth forever because she refuses to wiggle or assist their falling out, but day to day she was still very much into the whole thing. But any tiny drop or taste of blood — real or imagined — sent her into a doom spiral.

When I looked for resources on this, I was surprised to find there weren’t many available. There was material on kids who are afraid of blood, but it focused on needles primarily (blood work and vaccines). There was stuff about kids who were afraid to lose their first tooth, but it wasn’t specific to the fear of blood. Pain wasn’t even her concern, just the blood itself. My doctor was stumped (I had an unrelated appointment with her and asked if she had ideas). The dentist was nonplussed.

After seeing a friend lose her first tooth at the park, terror set in.

But no one other than me was there when she’d literally start hyperventilating, refuse to eat or put herself to bed in the middle of dinner in a complete panic. Once she passed out on the bathroom floor while I was trying to talk her down.

Everyone told me it would be fine after the first one, but I had my doubts. Once the tooth came out, she was completely fine. In fact, she was gleeful. But, sure enough, each subsequent loose tooth brought on the same flurry of terror: mouthfuls of tissue, tears and missing events because she couldn’t bring herself to move or eat. And after each tooth came out, she’d deliriously talk about how she’d been so brave and not scared at all… 

I wish I could report that the problem went away on its own, that I found a great book or was given excellent advice. In actuality what happened next is that I had a bit of an unlikely supermom moment: it seemed my daughter wouldn’t listen to anyone but herself on this one, so I figured out a way to get her to give herself the right advice. After one of her teeth came out and she was on her post-tooth loss high, I had her record a short video on my computer talking herself through the process, telling herself not to be scared, etc. It’s quite adorable, if I do say so myself (“Hi Anna, this is Anna…”). I have her watch it when it’s time for a loose tooth to come out.


Relevant Reading: Get Kids To Brush Their Teeth With ‘Toothbrush Song’


Kids’ faces change so fast, especially at this age when front teeth are coming in and out. She's at a point now where she is very much taking advice from her younger self. But the weird/great thing is it works! I don’t know if she’s taking her own advice, or if she’s just over the phobia, or if there’s something in the absurdity of the experience that distracts her from what’s happening, but it works.

I’m certainly not suggesting this is the answer, but I very much hope that anyone dealing with a blood-phobic, wiggly-toothed, distraught child (with or without the very gross tooth hanging on by a thread…) finds something, absurd or not, that works for them. In the meantime, you have my solidarity, and I highly suggest you console yourself with any delicious snacks your kid refuses to eat while in this frenzied state.

Article Author Tara-Michelle Ziniuk
Tara-Michelle Ziniuk

Tara-Michelle Ziniuk is a writer and editor based in Toronto. She’s a queer single mom to a 7.5-year-old. She’s overshared about her daughter for Today’s Parent, Bunch Family, Baby Post and various other print and digital publications. She’s also a poet (her kid says “of sad books”) and book reviewer (for Publisher’s Weekly, The Canadian Children’s Book News and more). You can find her on Twitter @therealrealtmz.

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