Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 31, 2013

There's money in those molars

Local columnist

---- — While yanked bloody body parts hardly sounds like the stuff of fairy tales, there is a happy ending — or at least a reason to smile a toothless grin.

It starts with a wiggle that eventually leads to a blank space between incisors. With the loss of another baby tooth comes tangible proof that the grown-up world is just beneath the surface; poised to erupt in molars and house mortgages.

Thankfully, the Tooth Fairy comes before the 30-year fixed interest rate.

Our 11-year-old lost a baby tooth earlier this month after a loose-tooth hiatus. Her mandible is growing up too fast. She would die of pre-teen embarrassment at such a dad statement.

For a tiny tooth, it was certainly a big production. For days our daughter pushed and pulled the askew tooth with her tongue. She bent it back and forth with her finger until it hung by the slightest root. However, no one else could touch her dangling tooth.

I suggested we yank it out by lashing the tooth to a doorknob or my 1984 snowmobile. For some reason she didn’t bite at either offer.

Her real motivation is the bucks-for-bicuspids program; otherwise known as the Tooth Fairy. The belief in gossamer wing nymphs has waned, but her tooth goes under the pillow just the same.

Hey, I might take pliers to a few teeth if I thought it might bring a visit from the 401(k) fairy.

As iconic figures go, the Tooth Fairy flies in the face of conventional ideals. She’s not a holiday commodity like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. She doesn’t attach her likeness to store sales flyers or bags of candy.

The Tooth Fairy makes no gift-wrapped present pretense – she just delivers cash.

While Kris Kringle tracks who is naughty or nice, the Tooth Fairy is ambivalent about a child’s behavior. Just don’t expect much legal tender for a cavity-filled tooth.

T.F. does not seek self-gratification through a plate of cookies, carrots or $25 photo ops at the mall. However, there is a price for this generosity in the form of bloodshed and teeth.

Of all the magical characters to sneak into a house at night, I’d least like to cross paths with the Tooth Fairy. Santa hauls a sack of toys. The Easter Bunny carries a basket of pastoral eggs. The Tooth Fairy totes a bag of human body parts.

Most kids don’t share my grim pixie perspective. Then again, I’d have reason to smile if someone was leaving money under my pillow.

I can be childish; fittingly, inside my mouth resides a very immature molar. I’m a 42-year-old man with a baby tooth.

The way I see it, if you factor in inflation since 1971, the Tooth Fairy owes me. All I need is those pliers.

Reach Garret Leiva care of the Record-Eagle or via email at