Deciduous (baby) teeth are lost and replaced by permanent teeth. The first permanent tooth usually erupts at around six years of age, shedding the baby tooth. The mouth undergoes a transition period of mixed dentition until the final deciduous tooth is lost, which can happen as late as the age of 12.
Loosing baby teeth happens to everyone. We all remember obsessively wiggling the tooth with our tongue, pinching it between our fingers, or having a cruel older sibling try to muscle it out for us. Once it popped out, we rejoiced with the knowledge that the lost tooth came with a monetary reward. In order to collect, the transaction simply required placing the tooth under your pillow and, while you slept, the Tooth Fairy exchanged it for a little money. According to USA Today, the average child receives anywhere from $3 to $20 per tooth. This seems excessively lucrative considering the average reward when I was a child was a dollar.
Although well-meaning, it seems the Tooth Fairy is also taking criticism from the British Medical Journal over stray teeth disappearing into other facial orifices such as the ears and nose. In one notable case, a CT scan was run on an 8-year-old boy whereupon a foreign calcified object was discovered lodged in his left ear canal. Three years prior, the boy had awoken distressed, accusing the Tooth Fairy of placing the tooth into his ear. The parents ignored his claims, assuming he was merely confusing the events with a bad dream. In response to the odd discovery, the British Medical Journal remarked:
“‘We are concerned that the actions of the mythical character (Tooth fairy) at the root of this report must be brought to the attention of the medical community, as it seems to represent the first signs of a worrying new trend in malpractice.”
There have also been cases of trauma caused by teeth getting lodged in the esophagus. The American Dental Association recommends placing the precious enamel in a small container or envelope before slipping it under your child’s pillow to prevent loss and injury.