Gen Alpha’s Tooth Fairy Pay-out: How much are Baby Teeth worth today?

Kieran was so proud of the gap in his mouth. Being the youngest in the class, he was surrounded by a whole bunch of gappy toothed kids. After weeks of obsessively wiggling his first loose tooth, it finally came out on its own bringing him a great sense of accomplishment.

 $20 for a single tooth?

Kieran is the eldest of my five grandchildren. I can’t remember much about when my kids lost their first teeth, but I still have them. Stuck on to a page in their baby books with yellowing pieces of sticky tape. And they would have got a big brown two cent piece – or a 20-cent piece if the tooth fairy was feeling generous. They certainly didn’t get $20 for a tooth like Kieran did. And you can’t put a note in a glass of water. When I looked shocked, his mother (the tooth fairy) said that was the only cash is the house. A $20 note. I understood. You can’t prepare for something that just happens, even though it’s imminent.

Sorry Sarah, I couldn’t find yours.

The baby teeth

Time has funny way of sneaking up on us. It seems as if it were just yesterday when Kieran was five or six months old and those first little baby teeth started peering through his gums. Fast forward to the present, and at six and a half years old, he is standing on the cusp of yet another dental milestone ready to welcome his permanent teeth. Unlike his mother, aka Hannah, whose first incisors didn’t make their appearance until the eve of her very first birthday. Not long after that, her first set of canines and all the other teeth she was meant to have by that landmark age followed suit as if to make up for lost time.

The toothbrush

The early days of using a toothbrush inspired the creative side in my kids – something that I haven ‘t noticed as much with my grandchildren. Maybe it’s because of the suction holder. After each use, the grandies firmly push their toothbrushes onto a bathroom wall tile. The suction works so well that a strong adult is required to disengage their toothbrushes from the wall. There was none of this fancy suction to wall technology when my kids were little. They put their toothbrushes in the toothbrush mug, but they didn’t always stay there. They found plenty of other uses for the humble toothbrush.

And the toothpaste

The discovery of the toothbrush (and the toothpaste) brought on a whole new dimension of exciting things to do. Besides brushing the teeth that is. Brushing one’s hair, brushing dolls’ hair, bravely prodding it at a sleeping cat, poking the brushless end in one’s ear, nose, in fact any other orifice, using it to clean the toilet- the list is endless. And as they got older, the toothbrush served as a relay baton for relays up and down the runway – aka our driveway, a tool for spattering paints, for scratching one’s back, in fact any itchy body part, for cleaning – that became less as they got older, and a myriad of other uses.

Has the toothbrush suction holder shattered creativity in the mini millennials?

Maybe this contrast in the generations is not just due to the toothbrush suction holder. It’s more likely to be attributed to the generation gap between the millennials and their children, the mini millennials. Nowadays, there are toys for everything.  Not only that, but a lot of creativity also happens on digital platforms.

An overdose of toothpaste is not fatal

As for the toothpaste, Hannah couldn’t get enough of the stuff.  This is the same kid who ate rat poison.  One day, just after her second birthday, I discovered her sitting in her cot sucking the toothpaste straight out of the tube. I feel I’m going to be judged here if any millennial parents read this. I want to assure you that the bathroom door was firmly closed, the screw cap was screwed onto the tube of toothpaste and the drop down (fleeing) side of the cot was locked. Despite that, she triumphed over the barriers and had swallowed at least half a tube of the stuff. I knew how much she’d eaten because it was a new tube. I immediately rang the Poison’s Information Service (PIS) and they assured me that she would not die or come to any harm from an overdose of toothpaste.

…but it could destroy your teeth

My fears were reignited after reading a report and warning by the National Health and Medical Research Council which stated ‘children who swallow toothpaste could destroy their teeth. The excess fluoride intake increases children’s risk of tooth decay and destroys the adult teeth still forming in their gums. So parents make sure only a pea sized amount of toothpaste is used on children’s brushes and that it is not swallowed’.

An excerpt from my memoir, 1989 – My Kids and Me 

After the teeth come through, it doesn’t seem that long until they start to fall out. This can cause financial ruin for the tooth fairy, but an exciting time for children. They look forward to having windows in their teeth and greater financial security. Unfortunately, sometimes parents forget about their added role as the tooth fairy, especially when there is only one parent but more than one child in the family losing teeth together.

Occasionally, a child may become visibly distressed after losing a tooth. This happened to Adam when he lost his first tooth. After a few days, I finally discovered the reason for his sorrow. With a tear-stained face, he said, “I don’t want to lose my sweet tooth, and I’m not sure which one it is”.

And then there are other children who will try to trick the tooth fairy in order to increase their bank balance. On one occasion, when we were staying in a motel, Hannah lost a tooth at breakfast time. It lodged itself in her toast, but luckily she didn’t swallow it. She immediately put it in a glass of water and left it beside her bed.     

 After a day out , we returned to find the glass empty and the tooth gone. Hannah refilled the glass and left a note beside it which read,

To toth fairy, the cleaning lady threw my toth away, Love from Hannah Notrup.”

Needless to say , the tooth fairy flew in overnight and left a small financial token.

 A few days later, when we were back at home, I happened to notice a glass of water and a note beside Hannah’s bed. The note read,

“To toth fairy, anuther toth fell out but Mummy threw it away, Love from Hannah Notrup”.

The wise old tooth fairy, well aware of children’s ploys for financial gain did not come. However, a few months later when Hannah really did lose another tooth she was rewarded once more by the tooth fairy.     

Image of Kieran on his way home from school proudly showing off his first missing tooth. Photo taken by Mum, Hannah.

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