Losing their first baby tooth is an important milestone in children’s lives.
They encounter a mix of emotions - excited that they are finally a big kid and worried about having a new experience.
Well, according to a recent study, when it comes to teeth children's positive emotion usually outweighs the bad.
Dental researchers and developmental and health psychologists at the University of Zurich examined the feelings that children experience when they lose their first baby tooth and which factors are at play.
They surveyed 1,300 children and asked their parents how their kids reacted to this first tooth loss.
80 percent of parents reported positive feelings, while only 20 percent said there were negative emotions.
The majority of children loved losing their first milk tooth, for it made them feel a sense of accomplishment.
The study also found that children whose teeth were loose for an extended period of time were happier when they fell out.
The longer the preparation and waiting time, the greater the relief and pride when the tooth is finally gone.
In fact, teeth can play a major part in a child’s development, says Moritz Daum, UZH professor of developmental psychology.
“Our findings suggest that children deliberately process previous experiences concerning their teeth and integrate them in their emotional development,” she explained.
However, they found that many of the kids with negative feelings had recently been to the dentist for cavity-related visits.
This suggests that feelings of shame or guilt from having a cavity overshadowed the joy of losing their first tooth.
Such information is important for parents and dentists alike to keep in mind.
“Especially where cavities are concerned, it's worth communicating with children prudently," says Daum.
"This way, emotions in connection with teeth and dentists can be put on the most positive trajectory possible."
Raphael Patcas, the study’s leading author, emphasised that it is good for parents to be aware of this association.
And reassures them not to be worried when children encounter this first milestone, saying they should encourage it as much as possible.
“The fact that four out of five children experience the loss of a baby tooth as something positive is reassuring, for parents and dentists alike."