Gus has a few loose teeth, but there was one that was sticking out and was clearly ready to come out. When it finally got to the point of hanging by a threadlike piece of skin, even he wanted it out lest he accidentally swallow it. There was a sort of approach-avoidance thing happening. "Ok, pull it out…No! Leave it alone!" On and on it went, delaying the much longed for (by me, not him) bedtime. DH wanted me to just leave it be, but there was also the problem of Gus having field day the following day – wouldn't want it knocked out on the field, now would we? So we had to do something drastic. Here's the process that worked for me:
- Repeatedly assure your child that he can certainly leave the tooth in, especially when he insists he wants it out. Never underestimate the power of reverse psychology.
- Try an easy method of tooth removal first, like plucking out with your fingers. This can accomplish two things – first you can see just how ready the tooth is to come out an second, you can subtly loosen it a little more until your child screams again to leave the tooth in.
- Make lots of jokes and then pull out something really scary, like pliers. Tell your child to keep his eyes closed (he won't) and then grasp the tooth with the pliers. Do not pull! The tooth may come out, but not likely. Your child may think you're nuts and then (hopefully) will find it silly once you start laughing it off.
- Offer to use a string to pluck it out. For the child with sensory defensiveness, of course, this will not fly, but best to get all the options on the table, especially the ones you know are absolutely not going to work.
- Go brush teeth. The tooth will pop out like a hot kernel of corn. Your child won't even notice. He'll be too busy making sure you're not hiding pliers behind your back!
- Oh, and remember to take care of all tooth-fairy business as soon as possible! The worst is to forget and have your child confront you before dawn in the morning!
In all seriousness, I've now found that tooth brushing seems to be a fairly painless and easy way to get stubborn loose teeth out. How do you get your child's teeth out when they are ready? Or do you just leave them alone?
P.S. Just to be clear, I wasn't actually terrorizing my son - there was a great deal of laughing and silliness going on at the time.
Image from cksinfo.com