If you live in America, then you are familiar with the tooth fairy! Surprisingly, the tooth fairy hasn’t been around for too long. Before Disney, this dental sprite wasn’t on the scene. Actually, countries celebrate the migration from baby teeth to adult teeth in several different ways. Cultures include beavers, cats, dogs, mice, and squirrels in their legends; however, the common thread that tied these civilizations together is a simple one: children must place their tooth somewhere for a beloved creature to collect. Let’s take a look at some of the different coming of age practices!
Tooth Traditions Around the World
- Parts of Asia believe that bottom teeth should be thrown on the roof and top teeth should be hidden in slippers. Throughout central Asia, baby teeth are fed to the dog or planted under a growing tree to promote healthy roots and adult teeth that will be as strong as a canine.
- In the Middle East, children throw their teeth towards the sun. This custom dates all the way back to the 13th century!
- Rituals in Spain involve a mouse, El Raton de Los Dientes, or Perez. The jolly rodent sneaks under your pillow, replacing your tooth with a small gift.
A 1920’s Fairy Tale
If you live in the United States, Australia, England, and Denmark then you know the story of the tooth fairy. She first made her debut in the late 1920’s as a “good fairy” that would sneak under your pillow, retrieve your tooth, and leave you with a coin as a token of gratitude. It is believed that this tale came about to ease the anxiety a child would feel from the loss of a tooth. This was designed to comfort a little one and monetarily reward them for their bravery.
Whether it’s a mythical fairy or a famous mouse, losing a tooth is a special occasion. So much so, that the going rate for a baby tooth has increased significantly! According to an annual study provided by The Tooth Fairy Pool, on average the tooth fairy left $4.66 per tooth in American homes, with 8% of children receiving more than $5.
We still widely honor these traditions, with roughly 89% of American homes receiving a visit. As dentists, we encourage you to get behind these traditions and promote positive oral health in your home!