alarm-ringing ambulance angle2 archive arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up at-sign baby baby2 bag binoculars book-open book2 bookmark2 bubble calendar-check calendar-empty camera2 cart chart-growth check chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up circle-minus circle city clapboard-play clipboard-empty clipboard-text clock clock2 cloud-download cloud-windy cloud clubs cog cross crown cube youtube diamond4 diamonds drop-crossed drop2 earth ellipsis envelope-open envelope exclamation eye-dropper eye facebook file-empty fire flag2 flare foursquare gift glasses google graph hammer-wrench heart-pulse heart home instagram joystick lamp layers lifebuoy link linkedin list lock magic-wand map-marker map medal-empty menu microscope minus moon mustache-glasses paper-plane paperclip papers pen pencil pie-chart pinterest plus-circle plus power printer pushpin question rain reading receipt recycle reminder sad shield-check smartphone smile soccer spades speed-medium spotlights star-empty star-half star store sun-glasses sun tag telephone thumbs-down thumbs-up tree tumblr twitter tiktok wechat user users wheelchair write yelp youtube

The Tooth Fairy Then and Now

We can all remember what it was like to put a baby tooth under the pillow and find a shiny quarter there in the morning.

The Tooth Fairy is a prominent figure in the magic of childhood, and it’s fun to look at how cultures have approached lost baby teeth differently throughout history.

The Superstitions That Preceded the Tooth Fairy

Long before the Tooth Fairy was sneaking teeth out from under pillows, she was digging them out of the ground. Medieval Europeans would burn or bury baby teeth because they believed that a witch could control people if she got hold of their teeth.

In addition to protecting themselves from witches, kids would burn their baby teeth to help ensure a peaceful afterlife, because they might be doomed to an eternity of searching for their teeth as ghosts if they didn’t destroy them! That sounds pretty intense.

Unlike their neighbors to the south, the Vikings considered baby teeth to be good luck in battle — so much so that they would buy them so that they could wear necklaces made out of children’s teeth! That could either be very intimidating or very strange-looking — or maybe both.

Tooth Fairy…or Tooth Mouse?

The Tooth Fairy doesn’t look like Tinkerbell in every culture. Many Latin and European countries have a Tooth Mouse instead! She’s called Le Petit Souris in France, which translates to “the little mouse,” and like the Tooth Fairy, she swaps out teeth hidden under pillows for money or small gifts. In many Spanish-speaking countries, the Tooth Mouse is Raton Perez.

How Did We Come Up With the Tooth Fairy?

Like many of our traditions in the U.S., the Tooth Fairy has its roots in European folklore. The modern idea of the Tooth Fairy got its start in the early 1900s, and it was actually the beloved fairy characters popularized by Walt Disney that helped the idea gain enough traction to become what it is now.

Why Do We Need the Tooth Fairy?

We probably don’t “need” the Tooth Fairy, but losing a tooth can be a scary experience for many children, and having something magical like a reward from the Tooth Fairy to look forward to can really help. They’ll have something to be excited about instead of focusing only on how much it might hurt to lose the tooth. But fantasy characters aren’t the only ones out there who can help with children’s tooth concerns: dentists can too!

We have the best patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.