21 Comments

  1. Definitely a tooth extraction. Zoom in and you’ll see the string goes to the kid’s mouth.

  2. What Philip said, and Mom(?) seems visibly upset that the tower is taking so long to topple.

  3. She would have to wait a very long time. The costumes emphasize the fact that this is a “historic” scene, set in the middle ages. The method never could be successful today, following the stabilization of the tower. Nevertheless, taken with a little suspension of comic disbelief, it’s still amusing.

  4. I never understood the cartoon meme (I mean mostly animated cartoons) of tooth extraction by string.

    First of all, how is it even possible to tie a string around a tooth? Is there an implication that the neighboring teeth are already gone? And even then, to fit and be knotted there, a string would have to be as thin as thread, and probably not strong enough to do the job.

    And then there is the dubious “get it over with, quick and sudden”. But it certainly wouldn’t be quick-and-painless! And this somehow gets mixed in with having it be accomplished by someone else’s agency, e.g. tied to a door knob and waiting for someone to arrive and open it from the other side. Is that supposed to make it less painful.

    The chilling thuught is that underlying the cartoon meme there must have been some kind of real life tradition of trying it.

  5. @ Dana K , Google indicates that the tooth-string-doorknob method is recommended on the websites of several actual pediatric dentists. I cannot say I have witnessed the method in real life practice, but it seems to be more than an urban myth. I have seen it simulated (I assume/hope) in live action television. I have seen string without a doorknob used to help pull a loose tooth in real life, however, with the string yanked by hand.

    Floss or thread can be plenty strong enough to do the job, provided the tooth you are trying to extract is loose (which it ought to be, yes?). The tying may be be the most challenging part, but it is made easier by the fact that there is usually more space around a loose baby tooth to work with than there is around adult teeth. I am doubting anyone actually using this method to pull a loose tooth does so without assistance, so I don’t think anyone has ever sat around waiting for someone else to open a door (or slam a door closed, as is more commonly depicted), especially since it is most commonly used as a method for extracting loose baby teeth from children.

  6. One sunny fall day I set out to climb the tower in Pisa on my European trip. Few tourists. Wonderful day.
    There are eight levels. At each level of the inner stairway I went outside and circled the tower and then entered the stairway again. So it was a stunt to amuse myself to be able to say I circled every level. Maybe half a dozen people up top on a lazy day to just idle away the view. Fond memory.

    Now tell me how many people ever did that same thing. Not a big deal, but I amused myself, didn’t I?

  7. That said, the tooth-string-doorknob method is also NOT recommended by many other pediatric dentist websites, though that is apparently as much because it can be scary for children as it is for any potential harm it might cause to the mouth or other teeth. I can say that it probably would have scared me as a child.

  8. Well perhaps people are talking about different things. There is removal of a damaged or diseased adult tooth, often a serious oral surgery procedure, performed with some form of anesthesia and professional tools. And distinct from that, encouraging or accelerating a “milk tooth” which is almost ready to fall out on its own.

    If the latter is what’s going on in this panel, I should probably not have used the term “extraction” which might be better reserved for the former situation.

  9. @ billytheskink – The reason that closing the door is more common than opening it is that it provides a more reliable “yank” via the string tied to the knob, and it doesn’t require “callous force” during the extraction event (the force is applied before the string goes taut). The patient could even use a door slam alone: all one needs to do is carefully measure the length of the string (a foot or two longer than the width of the door should suffice), and then stand (or preferably sit) in the correct location before swinging the door to slam it.

    P.S. On those occasions when my kids complained about an annoying loose baby tooth, I advised against “working” it, but did offer “string & door” as a potential solution if they wanted to try it (which they were always clever enough to decline). This had the strategic advantage of making “waiting patiently for the tooth to fall out on its own” seem like a more preferable solution.

  10. Chemgal’s linked video is very convincing, even though I couldn’t make it thru a second full minute!

  11. I’m old. I did get a tooth taken out by the door-and-string method.

    It works, but I do not recommend it and I would not do it to anyone.

    The tooth HAS to be very loose, so it wiggles around when you push it with your tongue.

    You can also use a 20-foot-string to tie your tooth to a cinder block and drop the block off a cliff. You will probably learn that the tooth is not as loose as you thought it was, but you will have a few seconds to rejoice that you will never have to go through THAT again.

  12. @ MiB – The cliff solution sounds barbaric. The poor kid won’t have anything to put under the pillow for the tooth fairy. 😉

  13. When I was a kid, my dad was the tooth-puller, completely manually. That was unpleasant enough that I after a point never mentioned loose teeth and would figure out a solution on my own. One of my last baby teeth though, the right-side upper canine, never really became loose. The permanent was growing over top so the dentist had to pull the other. To this day, that canine is slightly misaligned.

  14. “did offer “string & door” as a potential solution if they wanted to try it (which they were always clever enough to decline).”

    My dad did the same thing, but I was not a clever as your kids…I was totally gung ho! We got it all set up, and after a couple of attemts and violent jerkings of my head towards the slammed door, we gave up and waited for nature to take it’s course. I still got a dime for my tooth from the fairy, but sadly, I had to wait a few more days.

  15. @Kilby: If you do the cliff solution, you can drop a pillow off the cliff, and if it lands on the kid’s head, technically all the kid’s teeth are under the pillow including the loose one.

  16. I offered it for my daughters. One took me up on it (twice). I discovered tying a thread around a baby tooth is quite difficult.

    One of them we basically had so much difficulty getting the thread tied that we gave up.

    On the other one, I got everything tied and while I was getting the door set up… the tooth fell out. It was hanging from the doorknob by the thread without anything having moved.

  17. You have to make a slipknot, something like a hangman’s noose. You loop it over the tooth and pull it tight.

  18. When I was in kindergarten (not sure if still 4 or I had turned 5 by then) half of us were sitting in a circle on the floor while the other half was dancing in a circle in the middle of our circle. I looked down and saw a tooth on my skirt. I presumed it belonged to one of the children dancing and figured I would give it to the teacher when the dancers/sitter switched places. But it did remind me of my loose tooth and I put my tongue to play with it. And realized that I had lost my first baby tooth and it landed in my lap! Got an entire penny for it.

    The ones which come out during the pandemic will cost much more to deal with than a penny unfortunately. I have reached a point again where I treat a lost tooth as I did when it was a child – “well, lost a tooth, big deal”.

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