Because what better day to write about teeth than on Halloween, the Scourge of Dentists?
Also, because my kid had extensive dental work done yesterday. Poor little muffin. She was really anxious and scared beforehand, and then the appointment took over an hour; the dentist discovered an unexpected cavity as well as the other hole we’d already known about. He also “shaved” some other teeth that are getting in each other’s way (ow!) and pulled out one stubborn long-rooted baby tooth.
I wasn’t terribly surprised about that extra cavity. My girl
has quite the sweet tooth, and dental
care, especially tooth brushing, is a constant struggle in our house. We’ve
tried nagging, sticker rewards, sparkly pink toothpaste …and still she weeps
and stalls and carries on as if we’ve demanded that she stick needles in her
mouth, not a fancy motorized Hello Kitty toothbrush.
Finally, earlier this fall, I gave bibliotherapy a shot, and
brought home a few tooth-related
books from the library. She brushed aside the factual and didactic titles,
but glommed onto Open
Wide: Tooth School Inside by the inimitable Laurie Keller. Not only is it
packed with fascinating (really!) tidbits about teeth, but also with sly and
silly jokes, puns, and sarcastic asides. For several days I was able to
convince her to brush her teeth just by promising to sing the
Another story that tickles the funny bone is Sweet Tooth, by Margie
Palatini, wherein Stewart’s tooth tries to take over his life, demanding cake
and candy at every turn, until he fights back with (argghh!) crunchy
vegetables. Palatini has a light touch and is good with the funny stuff, but
it’s Jack Davis’s illustrations that take the cake: his goofy, slapstick riffs
on proportion and perspective are almost surrealistic, as befits the whole
concept of a obnoxious, bullying tooth.
Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World, by Selby
Beeler, is one of my favorite tooth books. Dozens of kids from all over the
globe briefly explain what they do when their baby teeth fall out. The Tooth
Fairy doesn’t fly everywhere, it emerges (though sometimes a mouse or another
spirit might be involved in tooth pickup) and teeth don’t always go under a
pillow; they’re just as likely to be thrown on the roof, buried in the ground,
or even fed to a dog! This book would
make a perfect nonfiction companion to Penda Diakite’s I
Lost My Tooth in Africa, in which the African tooth fairy visits Anima
while she’s visiting her family in
No hens were left at our house last night, but we did awake
this morning to the cry of a jubilant—if still swollen-lipped—girl. Let’s just
say the Tooth Fairy is very generous in compensation for surgically extracted
Wishing everyone a sweet and happy Halloween…and don’t forget to brush!
October 31, 2008