The loss of a baby tooth can be kind of a strange time for small children. They may have heard about the tooth fairy and her magical money-manifesting abilities, or they may be very nervous about what's going to happen after hearing what a friend went through. If your child now has a loose tooth and is not handling it that well, you can help him or her change the perception of that loose tooth in a number of ways.
Accidents and Age Are Different
First, realize that a tooth knocked loose by accident may be harder to handle than a tooth loosening with age. A baby tooth that loosens naturally is easier to understand because everyone goes through it, and you can talk to your child about how you felt when you realized another tooth was starting to wiggle. However, if the child was in an accident, there's the additional traumatic memory of the pain from that accident. Try to turn the loose tooth in that situation into a good thing -- the tooth was supposed to come out soon anyway, the child's adult teeth will be able to grow in with more room now, and the child will have an interesting story to tell his or her friends. Reassure the child that everything will be OK, even if it seems scary now.
What's Supposed to Happen
It really helps to know what's going on in new and strange situations. You might want to sit down with the child and tell them what happens when baby teeth become loose. Have the child clean his or her hands well -- and you clean yours, too -- and examine the tooth carefully in a mirror. Ask your child's dentist for recommendations for picture or pop-up books that might help explain how teeth grow.
Freaky Loose Teeth
Finally, let the child know what is OK and not OK in terms of handling the tooth. Tell the child that washing hands with soap and water before touching the tooth is important, and also discuss how to carefully brush the teeth around the loose tooth. The child will need to try his or her best not to play with the tooth too much because, even though the tooth might seem kind of freaky, touching it too much won't help anything. For example, when the tooth gets really loose, your child might be able to turn it around so the back is facing outward. If the tooth is accidentally pulled out prematurely, that can lead to a little blood, which might freak the child out even more.
A kids dentist can help you create a plan for when the child's tooth finally falls out. Start thinking of what you'll want to do now so that you can take charge once the loose tooth is gone.