Tales of Lost Teeth and Other Dental Adventures

Eliza Clark
July 7, 2010

You knew the time would come, but it's still a shock when it happens: your little darling runs up to you and announces, "My tooth is loose!!" You inspect the wobbly bottom incisor and remember the day that tiny pearly white first emerged from drooling pink gums just like it was yesterday. A baby getting his first tooth and a six-year-old loosing her first tooth are both huge milestones. The difference between the two is that the six-year-old understands just what a big deal it is, and suddenly wants to learn everything there is know about teeth, the tooth fairy, and even dentistry! To satisfy this immense burst of interest, we've gone out looking for the best books we could find on all things dental. We hope that you and your soon-to-be toothless wonders will enjoy!

Open Wide: Tooth School Inside by Laurie Keller
An entertaining, wacky and highly informative book about teeth.  Learn about the function of primary teeth, the different categories of teeth and what they are made of, broken teeth, braces, cavities and tooth cleaning. Bone up on a little dental history too - did you know that George Washington eventually lost all but one of his teeth, and had dentures made of elephant ivory, hippo tusks and cow teeth?  Poor man, it must have been hard for him to smile.  And discover Toothland, where the Tooth Fairy takes all fallen baby teeth. Your tooth-obsessed child will be fascinated!

Dear Tooth Fairy by Pamela Duncan Edwards
Loosing a first tooth is generally accompanied by a lot of anticipation, and no small dose of anxiety. And who can blame children for fretting when all around them they see gaping holes in the mouths of their peers? But amazingly, what five and six-year-olds seem to fret about the most is how soon they big event will occur.  In fact, most can't wait to lose their first tooth. Crazy kids! The heroine of this lovely tale, Claire, is so impatient that she writes a letter to the Tooth Fairy and, amazingly, receives one in return! So begins a delightful correspondence and a lovely book.

The Tooth Fairy by Peter Collington
This wordless picture book offers a detailed, fanciful rendering of a Tooth Fairy, her hidden tree trunk home, and her mysterious ways.  When a neighborhood girl loses a tooth and places it under her pillow, the fairy heads to a mine to forge a coin to place in the little girl's tooth box.  She then takes the tooth home and fashions it into the last ivory key for her piano.  Her house is filled with interesting dental details such as a "tooth alarm" and a "home sweet home" picture frame made of teeth.  In the last scene the tooth fairy plays a tune on her piano and a little girls wakes up to find her newly minted coin.  

Little Rabbit's Loose Tooth by Lucy Bate
A Little Rabbit has her first loose tooth and all the usual worries that go along with it.  She has to chew hard food with her other teeth, and only soft foods with her loose tooth - until it comes out in her ice cream!  She thinks about what to do with the tooth, and wonders whether the Tooth Fairy really exists, but in the end decides to put it under her pillow and see what happens.  Can you guess?  A sweet and reassuring story.

Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World by Selby Beeler (Author) and G. Brian Karas (Illustrator)
All children around the world loose their baby teeth.  But does the Tooth Fairy bring a coin to each and every one of them?  As a matter of fact, no.  In France and Venezuela, a mouse will do the job.  In other parts, children bury their lost teeth, or turn them into charms.  This delightful and well-researched book brings cultural differences alive through the lens of the universal childhood preoccupation with losing teeth - how brilliant!

One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey
Little Sal of Robert McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal returns to us in this story, but oh, what happened? She's not so little anymore. We meet her again on the day she loses her first tooth. In case the sight of Sal as a "big girl" sends you into a fit of anticipatory mourning for your own little one's toddlerhood, she's got a little sister now named Jane who is just as scruffy and scrumptious as the Sal of yore. And this older, "big girl" Sal remains a charmer. She still talks to the Maine wildlife, showing off her loose tooth to a fish hawk, loon, and seal. And she still has a healthy appetite for sweet things (but in time-honored kid fashion, she's moved on from blueberries to chocolate ice cream -- sound familiar?). We get to meet Dad here too, Mr. McCloskey himself, digging for clams and wrestling with a broken outboard motor. The theme here is growing up, and the losses and rewards that come with it, explored in a multitude of small motifs: that loose (and then lost) tooth, a seagull's feather, a baby clam, a new sparkplug, and ice cream cones all add up to one of the most delightful books we know.

Dr. Desoto by William Steig
Young children are not uncommonly scared of the dentist.  Who wants a strange adult poking around in one's mouth with sharp instruments?  No child in his right mind, really.  And yet, dentist visits must nevertheless be born.  So it is useful to remind kids that the job of poking around another person's mouth full of sharp teeth is not necessarily a picnic either.  And that where Dr. Desoto comes in handy.  To watch this dashing little mouse dentist brave the jaws of a wolf  to extract a rotten tooth is bracing for even the most reluctant dental patient.  The brilliant William Steig's Dr. Desoto is a memorable character, and is sure to become a household favorite.  You can follow his continued adventures in treating the teeth of large mammals (an elephant this time) in Dr. Desoto Goes to Africa.

From the Parents

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