First tooth turning black and then tooth fairy movie are two of the biggest tooth decay-related concerns for kids.
But, for some parents, tooth fairy movies can also cause tooth decay, especially if the kids are young and the movies don’t have teeth.
“There are a lot of movies where there are some kids, some adults who are not aware that they’re having tooth decay,” said Dr. Mark Kornberg, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota.
“So, when you see them, they can have no teeth, and so they’re not feeling any pain, they’re fine.
But when they’re watching that movie, their teeth turn black, their tooth fairy starts showing up.”
The problem can be even more acute for children younger than 5 years old who are watching the movie with a parent who’s having dental problems.
“They’re just seeing their parents go into shock,” Kornburg said.
“It’s the same thing for kids that are younger and younger,” he said.
In most cases, children can get better after they’ve watched the movie, but they may also experience some permanent damage to the teeth and/or loss of teeth.
If the kids watch the movie after the dentist has left, they might get a different experience, said Dr and co-author Dr. John Pappas, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research at the National Institutes of Health.
“And if they’re in a dentist’s office and the dentist’s gone away, that’s a different story,” Pappis said.
For kids, the movie also can trigger an episode of “tween” where they’re learning to love, laugh, talk and sing to the other kids, said Pappes.
“In a way, the kids see that they have a parent that’s trying to help them, and they’re kind of falling in love with them, so that’s the kind of love you need in order to have a happy childhood,” he added.
“But when you have a kid who’s not yet really getting that, it’s kind of like, well, they just got to get that out of the way and go back to playing video games,” Pappa said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a problem with tooth decay or a family member, call 1-800-273-8255.