So what exactly do you *do* with decomposing human teeth?

by DaniGirl on April 30, 2009 · 12 comments

in Mothering without a licence

The tooth fairy has started to visit our house. Last August – on my birthday, in fact – Tristan lost his first tooth. He lost the second one later in the fall, and the third one popped out a couple of weeks ago.

You know, I have a pretty strong stomach, and I like to think I’m generally not the squeamish type. I’m fine with blood, and for at least as long as it takes to get the job done, I can handle most of the products of the baser bodily functions – puke, snot, poop, whatever. Lucas peed on my leg yesterday and my only consternation was that it was my last clean pair of jeans.

This whole tooth thing, though? Ugh. The loose teeth make me feel more than a little squeedgy, and the tooth removed from the mouth makes my stomach do an unpleasant little roll. Blech. Teeth belong in mouths, firmly rooted to bony jaws, not hanging by (*gulp*) bloody little tentacle-like threads.

So once the tooth gets out of the mouth, it goes directly into a ziploc bag where nobody has to run the risk of touching it, especially of touching the (*gulp*) gutty parts where the roots used to be. The ziploc bag goes under the pillow, where it usually takes about three nights for the tooth fairy to magically transform that tooth to a shiny $2 coin. (Lucky for us, Tristan has been very accepting of the fact that the tooth fairy is more than a little overworked, and it’s not unusual for her to forget be so busy taking care of other kids that it takes a couple of nights for her to get around to everyone on the list.)

The first time he lost a tooth, after groping around under his pillow in the morning gloaming on the second day the tooth popped out, I managed effect the swap of tooth for twoonie and slip out of his room while he was still sleeping. I could hear him stirring, though, and knew it wouldn’t be long before he woke up. I froze once I hit the hallway, ziploc-sheathed tooth pinched distastefully between thumb and forefinger, flummoxed.

Now what?

I hadn’t thought the plan through past the tooth-to-twoonie alchemy. What the hell do I do with this decaying bit of human remains? I can’t just throw it out. (Could I *be* any more ridiculously sentimental?) Certainly not with Tristan about to walk into the room, anyway. So I did the first thing I could think of — I stuffed the entire ziploc bag, tooth enclosed, into the bottom drawer of my jewellery box. Where it remained, untouched and unconsidered, until the next time Tristan lost a tooth.

After three days of utterly and completely forgetting to effect the trade of tooth-for-twoonie, I found myself in the Exact Same Predicament: gnarly bit of discarded bone in hand (well, in ziploc in hand) and no idea what to do with it. So I stuffed it unceremoniously in the jewellery box with its mate.

Well, you can guess what happened with the third one. There has been just enough time between the loss of each tooth for me to completely forget to consider the problem of how to divest myself of the discarded baby teeth.

So now I have three rotting teeth stuffed in the lower drawer of my jewellery box and I have no idea what to do with them. I can’t bring myself to simply throw them out, especially now that I’ve taken steps – however rudimentary – to preserve them. Sheesh, they’re not even very good teeth – both of the big boys have already had cavities that need filling.

With three kids that will lose an average of 20 teeth each (Tristan actually has an extra one up front, just to add to my vexation) I’m facing in the neighbourhood of 60 teeth over the next dozen years or so. If nothing else, I’m eventually going to need a bigger jewellery box. And I no longer wear any of my jewellery because I’m beginning to feel vaguely squeamish every time I get anywhere near my dresser. Pretty soon I won’t even be able to get out any fresh underwear and that can’t end well.

What do you do with the teeth your kids lose? Surely if there are regulations against dog poop in household waste there must be some prohibition against decaying human remains? Do you flush them and release them to the wilds? Bury them in the backyard? Save them and present them in a velvet lined box to his future wife the night of the rehersal dinner? Help!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ari April 30, 2009 at 8:56 am

Ewww, I knwo what you mean!! My students come up to me all the time, showing me their wiggly teeth and it totally squicks me out. Something about a loose tooth just seems seems unnatural or I don’t know… it gives me the creeps to see them.

I don’t know about saving the teeth – I don’t think my mom saved my teeth and to be honest, I don’t miss them!

2 Mom on the Go April 30, 2009 at 9:33 am

We have a small, round silver-plated tooth box that I received before Reid was born (it matches the one for the hair from her first haircut). I guess I thought I’d toss them in there. The tooth fairy just needs proof of tooth-loss, not the actual tooth, right. At some point, it would be cool to do an experiment with immersing the tooth in various kinds of pop, I’d think. I’m kind of gruesome that way ;+)

Reid is eager to lose a tooth but I can wait. I love little baby teeth and big ones are soo big in little mouths.

3 Jody April 30, 2009 at 1:15 pm

I have all of them in envelopes with labels. I have zero idea what to do with them, though. They’re just sitting in a box.

Somewhere in the attic is a small plastic box that used to hold the four teeth (adult teeth) that the dentist removed before I got my braces. Why do I have that box? Who the heck knows. It’s packed away and I couldn’t even guess as to whether the teeth are even whole anymore.

I like the future-experiments plan….

4 Sharon April 30, 2009 at 2:01 pm

I kept Miranda’s first one or two and the Same with Nathan. I throw the rest out. I have no qualms about it. I don’t need a WHOLE bunch of baby teeth that was used to bite me at the most inapporiate places.
Miranda has her first lost tooth in a beautful pewtar case that a friend of mine game me for her…
Nathan’s is in the bottom drawer of my jewerly box…LOL

5 alison April 30, 2009 at 2:34 pm

LOL. Both of my girls have been supremely helpful in that when they lost their first teeth, they LOST their first teeth. As in didn’t make it home from school/daycare with them. The Toothfairy was really good and exchanged a toonie for a note of explanation. The ones I did manage to keep are *surprise* in my jewelry box too.

Dani, I emailed you re the next OBB on Saturday.

6 Amber April 30, 2009 at 7:53 pm

My kids aren’t old enough that this has been an issue yet, but I vote for the velvet-lined box. πŸ˜‰

7 Theresa April 30, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Well….I had to laugh and the picture of you frozen in the hall with a tooth in a zip-lock bag….pretty sure I’ve worn those exact same shoes….utterly petrified at being caught with the tooth in hand….

I ALSO have a zip-lock baggie with a tooth in it in my jewelry box….for the same lack-of-better-place to stash it….(it was actually a second tooth cuz the first one really did fall out and get lost) SO on the third tooth I changed my plan. I took one very good sentimental look at the tooth and then wrapped it in a Kleenex (so it wouldn’t be discovered) and quickly threw it out….telling myself that I wouldn’t save one of their scabs if a scab were to fall off….SORRY *gross*but true!! Anyway it made me feel a little better….tooth four is already wiggly….oooh yay!

BTW you wouldn’t ever want your stash discovered….would you?!? The tooth fairy is supposed to ‘collect’ them in exchange for money…

8 twinmomplusone May 1, 2009 at 7:46 am

Oh dani! What a good morning laugh this was for me πŸ˜‰

Firstly, though, do realize that teeth don’t decompose, heck, those egyptian mommies still have theirs intact..

My mom kept mine in a little jewellery box and I’ve done the same with the kids, they each have their own. They will dry up in time and maybe split in half. Keeping them for sentimental reasons? Of course. Just like I still have their belly button stump, yikes.

Call me up if you want me to come over and help you dispose them or put them in a little box cause you can’t keep them in your jewllery box forever πŸ™‚

9 Susan May 1, 2009 at 2:11 pm

I kept the first for each in keepsake boxes (beside a lock of hair from each of their first hair cuts) and pitched the rest. It didn’t occur to me to keep them ALL. That’s kind of yucky…

10 kate May 3, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Hmmm. I didn’t hesitate one second in tossing out the teeth– even the first one. (There have only been two so far.) In my defense I will say that I do have an envelope of “first haircut” hair from each of the three kids in their respective baby books…

11 Laura May 7, 2009 at 7:50 pm

When I was in my teens and snooping through my mom’s jewellery box, what did I find? Ta, da… a whole box of teeth! You can’t imagine the look on my face when I found that. I had 2 sisters as well, so lots of teeth! I have to ask my mom if they are still there!

12 DaniGirl May 8, 2009 at 9:13 am

I’m laughing — what *is* it about jewellery boxes and baby teeth? I’m sure there’s grant money in a study of this (obviously pervasive) phenomenon!!

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