The Legend of the Tooth Fairy

With the holidays right around the corner, everyone is talking about Santa Claus. But what about our other favorite character? When you lose a tooth, you are visited by a fairy who replaces your tooth with money. You may remember getting a few coins as a child, but in recent times, the Tooth Fairy is paying an average of $2 per tooth. Where did the tooth fairy legend originate?

Who is the Tooth Fairy?

Santa Claus lives in the North Pole with Mrs. Claus, has elves and reindeer to help him, and even has an established look. The Tooth Fairy, however, is based on individual imaginations. The fairy made her first appearance in the 1900s. The Tooth Fairy is most commonly believed to be a beautiful, small woman with wings, a magic wand, and a crown. When you place a lost tooth under your pillow at night, she comes in while you’re sleeping and replaces it with a reward. Since losing teeth is often a scary experience for young children, the prize helps make the process more fun. The Tooth Fairy is believed to have two different uses for teeth. One myth says that she turns teeth into stars in the sky, and the other says she uses the teeth she collects to help build a castle.

The origins

In the Middle Ages, baby teeth were burned or buried. Witches used hair, teeth, and fingernails for potions to work their black magic and put a curse on the child. If the baby teeth were discarded out of sight, the witches would not have access to them and the spell would be avoided.

In other European traditions, parents took their children’s baby teeth and buried them in the garden or field to help grow strong, healthy teeth in their place. When they moved to America, they buried the teeth in flowerpots instead. The meaning was transformed into the tradition we know today: burying under the pillow.

Tooth loss around the world

In some countries, like Austria, Chile, and Italy, people keep baby teeth as a small treasure to use in jewelry.

In some Spanish-speaking countries, like Mexico and Spain, they have a character called Ratoncito Perez. This is a magical little mouse called the “ratón de los dientes” (tooth mouse) that replaces the baby tooth in the middle of the night.

In some Asian countries, it is customary to throw lower teeth onto the roof and bury upper teeth in the ground. They believe that the new adult teeth will grow towards each other and come in straight.

Contact our dental office in Livonia, MI at (734) 425-4400 to schedule an appointment. We welcome families from the surrounding areas of Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Novi, Dearborn, Redford, and other nearby communities.