A new study from the University of Zurich (UZH) has found that children’s feelings when they lose their first baby tooth are predominantly positive. The study also reveals that previous visits to the dentist, parental background and level of education affect how children experience the loss.
Their first tooth loss is probably one of the first biological changes to their bodies that children experience consciously. The emotions that accompany this milestone are extremely varied, ranging from joy at having finally joined the world of grown-ups to fear about the loss of a body part.
A team of dental researchers and psychologists examined the feelings of children when they lost their first baby tooth. The scientists surveyed parents of children who had already lost at least one of their milk teeth. Of the nearly 1,300 responses received, around 80% of parents reported positive feelings, while only 20% told of negative emotions. Raphael Patcas, first author of the study says: “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”.
Children who experience the loosening of their tooth over an extended period of time tend to have more positive feelings. The longer the preparation and waiting time, the greater the relief and pride when the tooth finally falls out.
The researchers found that previous visits to the dentist affected children’s feelings. Children whose previous visits were cavity-related and perhaps associated with shame or guilt experienced fewer positive emotions when they lost their first baby tooth.