Do I Toss The Baby Teeth?

Dear Mamas,

What am I supposed to do with my son’s teeth after the Tooth Fairy picks them up? Do I save them? (Frankly that sounds very freaky and what will he do when I hand him his baby teeth as an adult–Eewww Mom!!?!) Or, do I throw them away? This seems incredibly cold, callous and unsentimental. Any advice?

Jaws Mom

Dear Jaws Mom,

First of all, what did you originally tell your son the teeth were needed for? I mean, what does he think the Tooth Fairy DOES with all those teeth she collects from children all over the world each night? It’s kind of funny to ask them if you haven’t already supplied an answer. It’s one of those things that does come up with little kids. It did with mine! When asked about it the first time I threw out “Oh, well you see, the Tooth Fairy actually recycles those baby teeth for all the new babies that are going to be born and needing teeth.” I know, that was probably wrong on all sorts of religious and philosophical grounds, but hey, I was tired and that was what came out of my mouth.

Funny thing is, my son accepted it immediately as a sensible answer and let his little sister in on it the next day. After that, it became Gospel. I tell you this only to warn you that when it comes to things like the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny you have to be ready for the questions! It’s also good to figure out how you will talk to your kids about keeping the secret of characters like Santa and his friends once they figure out who’s been leaving the quarters or presents under the tree. This can be an early lesson for them about protecting the innocence of younger children or respecting the traditions of kids of different faiths if they don’t celebrate those holidays themselves.

But back to your question…I think that in the long run those teeth will have more sentimental value for you than for your child. I did show my kids their teeth when they were alot older and they DID say, “Eewww Mom, GROSS!” But I’m glad I kept them. They are kind of precious and take me back to those days when they were so teeny tiny.

So I would say, store them in a little box somewhere they will never look, and take them out again when they get their driver’s license or their first college acceptance letter. Remember how little they once were and give yourself a pat on the back for how far they have come.

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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