The tooth fairy is a fun mythical creature that parents have concocted to explain the money replacing teeth underneath the pillows of their children during night (night terrors in toddlers). The actual story of the tooth fairy goes back a long way, but much like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, it continues to be a fun tradition enjoyed by many families.

But in every healthy household, there comes a point in time when the tooth fairy’s magic has to be dispelled. When that time arrives, make sure you package the cold, hard truth about the tooth fairy with an educational conversation about healthy dental habits that your children need to adopt.

Here’s a rough guide for navigating that inevitable conversation:

Addressing playground word-of-mouth

Sometimes you get to be the bearer of bad news. Other times, it’s kids on the playground you have to worry about. Yes, you don’t always have the luxury of controlling when your child is illuminated about the truth of the tooth fairy, so you’ll want to be prepared for that day to come unexpectedly. If your child comes home and questions the existence of the tooth fairy based on what he or she has heard at school, don’t ignore the questions or insist on the contrary. Sit down with them and have a calm, reassuring explanation of how the tooth fairy is celebrated in your home.

Breaking the news

It’s important to be sensitive to your child’s emotions during this time. (check “Avoidant Personality Disorder Test” and “Erythrophobia Treatment and Causes” article). Yes, one day they’ll probably laugh at their one-time belief in the tooth fairy. But young kids can be rattled by the discovery that something they believed in doesn’t actually exist. Their reactions may be cute, but try to keep your visible reactions in check. Instead, offer comfort and be willing to answer all their questions until they are satisfied.

You might also want to disclose to your child that everyone learns about the tooth fairy at a different time. Because of this, your child might not want to run around school insisting the tooth fairy isn’t real. Give other kids a chance to learn in their own time.

Discussing the importance of dental health

A conversation about the tooth fairy offers a natural transition to discussing the importance of dental health with your children. As your kids start to lose their baby teeth, explain to them that their new set of teeth will be permanent, and proper care is essential to making sure those teeth last long into life. Once permanent teeth come in, it’s time to start scheduling regular dental appointments and have teeth cleaning procedures done.

If the thought of dentist and/or dental health costs feel prohibitive, keep an eye out for dental coupons that can lower the cost of proper dental care and help prevent cavities in your children.

Dental health is a serious health consideration in all phases of life, but poor dental habits during childhood can rear an ugly head come adulthood. Once your children understand that teeth are not magically maintained by a tiny winged person, it’s time to introduce them to the necessity of brushing and flossing regularly, and making sure the health of their teeth is kept in mind. Your kids might have intitial resistance to this enforced diligence, but they’ll thank you later in life.