I Didn’t Know Tooth Fairies Visit 4 Year Olds

The thing about growing up is you don’t realize it’s happening. You only realize it’s happened. Like when your FOUR YEAR OLD loses his first tooth.

The first day of Spring Break started off as well as I could have hoped. I woke up to a clean house (a rarity), and felt generous enough to sacrifice a piece of that by letting the kids play Playdoh while I worked on laundry.

I figured it would be a great day to document some small, ordinary moments. I haven’t done that in a while. So I got my camera out and set it on the bar after I snapped a couple pics of them playing nicely.

Minutes after I took that picture, Kendall said, “Hey mom… look… at my tooth.” I turned to see him with his hand in his mouth. I assumed he was pretending a piece of Playdoh was a loose tooth… or something. I don’t know what I thought was going on, but I DID NOT think his real tooth was falling out.

“You’re so silly,” I joked, then turned back around.

“Mom… mom… look… look,” he said, and then thrust his hand out. In it was not a colorful piece of Playdoh, but something small and white.

Wait… we don’t have any white Playdoh… I slowly walked over to him, my head cocked to the side, squinty eyes.

“Kendall, where did you get that?” I stupidly asked, fully in denial.

“From my mouth,” he replied after giving me a totally deserved are-you-serious look. I looked up, and then I saw the black shadow where a tooth once was. I had no idea how to react so, naturally, I said, “Wait… let me get my camera!”

“Smile! Show me your teeth!” I nervously commanded with cheer. He struggled…

Then my string of questions set in.

“What happened? Did you hit your mouth? Does it hurt? Has it been loose for a long time?”

I’ll be totally honest. The horror that was bubbling up inside me was showing on my face. I just wasn’t prepared for this. I had no idea if it’s even normal for 4 year olds to lose teeth. Was he sick? Had we failed dental hygiene for preschoolers? I quickly inspected his tooth for any signs of decay that would make it fall out.

It was then that I realized how much I fail… just absolutely fail in the Keep Calm department when others are struggling. Here I was freaking out because I wasn’t ready for this, and poor Kendall knew even less about what was happening.

“Mom,” he said through tears, “can we put it back in? Can we go to the doctor and have him fix it?”

“Oh! Oh, honey. Oh, it’s okay! This is okay! This is normal. This is supposed to happen! You have another tooth… a grown-up tooth because you’re getting SO grown up! It will grow in it’s place,” I said in that high-pitched voice that’s my default when I panic.

Oh SURE it’s “normal” mom. YOU’RE TOTALLY ACTING LIKE THIS IS COMPLETELY NORMAL RIGHT NOW.  <<What I’m sure he was thinking on some level.


Note to self: Have the period talk with Leyna and prepare yourself WAY BEFORE you think all that will go down. Horrified, caught off guard faces that you physically can’t hide will ruin SO MANY LIVES when that happens.


“But mom, why do I have to lose my tooth? I don’t want a new one.”

And thus started the conversation we are still having- the whys and the hows and the whens.

I had to scramble to come up with what the Tooth Fairy in our house would do last night. Scott and I settled on a letter, a new toothbrush and toothpaste (needed anyway), and 4 gold $1 coins for the first tooth. We figured we’d do $2 for every tooth after this. We really have no idea what we’re doing, but the plan sounded okay at 10 p.m. last night.

Hat tip to the Facebook commenter who mentioned the ass-saving idea to put in a clause about how the tooth fairy can be a day or two late sometimes.

This morning, instead of excitedly running to our room, holding his loot up with joy, he muttered, “Mom, the tooth fairy didn’t bring me a new tooth.”

When I explained that’s not what the tooth fairy does, and that it would just have to grow in, and that takes time- he looked at me very suspicious of the whole tooth fairy thing. I mean, just what the hell IS her job, then, if not to bring you a tooth to replace the one she’s taking?

He eventually warmed up to the goodies, and I think he’s getting more comfortable with the extra space in his mouth. My biggest regret though all of this is simply not preparing myself for this. And not in the “I don’t have a cute tooth fairy pillow for him!” sense, but in the sense that, as a parent, I just wasn’t even in that space yet.

He’s FOUR. He’ll be 5 in May, but still, he’s FOUR. He’s in preschool. I thought loose teeth were a kindergarten and beyond thing, not a preschool thing.

After some internet hysterics on my part, a lot of people chimed in to tell me that it’s totally normal to lose teeth this early, especially if he got them all early, too. He did. I swear, he started teething out of the womb, had quite a few by 6 months, and all but his 2 year old molars in by his 1st birthday. The tooth he lost, bottom right, was actually the first tooth he got in. So all that makes me feel a little better.

Upon further interrogation, he revealed the tooth came out after he tried to take a Playdoh lid off the canister with his mouth. Something, I’ll confess, he saw me do minutes before.

Did I know it was loose? No. I guess looking back there were maybe a few small signs, but that kid always has his hands in his mouth, and his pain tolerance is so high. He never tells us when little things like that are bothering him.

So, lesson learned. Growing up happens. It’s happening right now.  It’s happening whether we want it to or not, whether we’re prepared or not. Sooner or later (or so much sooner than you ever thought) it happens.  Now, go talk to your 3 and 4 year olds about how TOTALLY NORMAL it will be when their teeth start falling out.

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  1. Umm, i had no idea they could lose teeth this early! Probably because the first teeth I “lost” were extracted by the dentist when I was in second grade, lol! Good to know. I have prepared my kid with the Yo Gabba Gabba “Teeth” episode (you should let Kendall watch it, they explain the whole “losing your teeth” thing pretty well).

    • oh I’m glad I’m not the only one whose kid has seen this, all the sudden I’m thinking ‘wow my kid watches too much tv, they told her that’.. lol

  2. Aw, at least he lost it naturally. I wish I could say the same for my kids. My 5 year old lost 4 teeth in an accident, and my 4 year old lost 3 due to a combination of failed dental hygiene and the fact that I would have to have her put under general anesthesia to fix them because of her fear of doctors. Oh, and I made it all bad by passing out in the oral surgeon’s office when I saw her sucking on a red ice pop afterwards. I’m hoping my 2 1/2 year old will lost all of his naturally. I’m totally with you in the keep calm department-I freak out and make everything so much worse. Now when anything happens, I let their dad handle it and I go hide in a room to panic.

  3. we are on the late side. ben lost his first tooth at the end of last summer AFTER he was six. at this exact moment, he has only lost two teeth. i think the top left is loose but he doesn’t let us come near. his first two teeth were literally hanging by a string when they “popped” out.

    we are also a non-tooth fairy family. not by choice but by fear. it’s so sad. the first tooth caused so much anxiety and fear that *something* or *someone* other than mom or dad was coming in his room. we are saving all his teeth until he’s ready…i should be putting money aside! i’m going to have one big bill.

  4. Welcome to the world of teeth! My son is almost 10 and just lost another one. He lost his first one around 5 but EVERYONE in his class had “wiggle tooth” syndrome. It’s fun until you realize you don’t have any money and give them the only thing you have in your wallet – a $20 bill! Yep – did that! Wish I had thought of the tooth fairy clause back then. This last tooth I couldn’t find in his bed with him asleep so I slipped $2 under his pillow anyways. He came in the next morning and ratted me out – “Mom, you forgot my tooth!” Um, I think he’s on to the tooth fairy gig now! Have fun with it.

  5. Monica Ølberg on

    Omg I can’t believe one fell out already. That scares me because Vincent (my 4 yr old) will be 5 in April. I’m so not ready for that. You handled it really well though.

  6. I had NO IDEA they can lose teeth this early and you did great – I would probably take him to the emergency room. Holy crap. Good to know…

  7. This is actually covered by several PBS shows and I think maybe even Disney, my daughter knows about it already. One of the stupid shows said she’d get a huge present and I said, well, probably not. (that may have been yo gabba gabba).

    We believe in keeping expectations low, so we may do one coin for one tooth, etc.

    • Well, I had to do this WAY early since Landon knocked out two of his teeth! Now I’m so use to that little space on the bottom and I think he looks too cute with it 🙂

      Yep, they sure do grow up when we’re not looking!

  8. I freaked out at my daughter’s last dentist appointment in October when her dentist said she had THREE loose teeth. She was 4. Dr. said it was perfectly normal to start that early, as others have said, especially if she got them early. She lost the first one in November, then the other two soon after – all before she turned 5 last week! I’m so glad we had that dentist appointment first, or I would have panicked!

  9. I do not look forward to this with my oldest. At 5, she has a major language delay and will not get this concept at all. I feel like its going to freak her out more then is normal. =/

  10. Courtney Helms on

    I’m so glad I have you and your blog to pave the way for me. My older son just turned 3, so hopefully we have a while before we have to worry about this!

  11. Samantha Jackson on

    I love the letter!!! How sweet is that, I never want to talk about periods…that talk will not be fun! I’m sorry this took you by surprise, enjoy it

  12. I lost my first tooth at 3, while at preschool. I freaked out BIG TIME. I lost my last tooth 3 days after I turned 8, and my 4 wisdom teeth came in when I was 13. I have always just assumed that some people lose their teeth earlier than others. Like how my son had 8 teeth by 11 months old, and both my friend’s kids had one tooth on their 1st birthday.

    But still…don’t blame ya for freaking out!!

  13. Kristen McCarthy on

    Oh JEEZ! I didn’t know it happened this early either! MY daughter is 4.5 years old and I’m not ready! She is excited about the idea someday but loose teeth and teeth falling out grosses me out to no end! I want them to just magically keep their baby teeth forever cuz I have no idea how I Will handle this!

  14. Pingback: I’m Going To Be A Wreck In August

  15. Michelle Kersey on

    Awwww…. so sad and funny at the same time. Thankfully, I’ve had the tooth fairy talk with my son and explained to him a few time about how his teeth will get loose and he’ll get a new one. So, I hope he’s adaquitly prepared. Me however…. my back got chills just reading this post. I’M NOT READY… not b/c of him getting older… because teething coming out gives me the freaking heebie jeebies.

  16. I had to come back and find this post. Almost started crying because Austin lost her first tooth today. What? Why? Why is she growing up? She is 4! God, now I’m crying. Thank you for making me feel better. Going to go curse time and sob into my pillow. So unfair.

  17. I highly recommend the book “parts” by Tedd Arnold
    It’s one of mine and my daughter (almost 4) favourites. Its really silly talks about losing teeth, peeling skin, boogers, ear wax etc. my girl is prepared because of it;)

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