The History of the Tooth Fairy
The tooth fairy is a long-cherished iconic symbol of childhood, much like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. However, unlike these other two, the tooth fairy exists across many different cultures, religions, and countries. The team at HollowBrook Dental was curious about the origins of the tooth fairy and decided to do some investigating. Here’s what we learned:
Ancient Traditions Related to Tooth Loss
While the modern idea of the tooth fairy is a fairly new creation, like many other myths, it has evolved over time. Unlike the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, the tooth fairy has not been given one specific look. The look of the modern tooth fairy has been inspired by other fairies in pop culture, but over the years, it has appeared in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are many legends and myths dating back hundreds of years regarding losing baby teeth.
For example, Early European and Norse cultures would bury the baby tooth to prevent hardships for the child in the next life. In Europe, children would be given a “tand-fe” or “tooth fee” when they lost their first tooth. Vikings would use children’s teeth to bring them good luck in battle.
More recently, in Europe, the idea of a good fairy was born from fairy tales and popular literature. The most popular idea of a “tooth deity” in Spain, Russia, China, and other Asian countries is a mouse that enters the rooms of children to remove their baby teeth. The idea of the mouse is perhaps because rodents’ teeth continue to grow their entire lives.
In other countries and cultures, the legends vary to include squirrels, beavers, cats, and dogs.
The Modern Tooth Fairy
A recent survey revealed that the average child in the USA gets $3.00+ per tooth. In many families, as inspired by European tradition, larger teeth and the first/last tooth bring more.
The primary reason that the legend of the tooth fairy continues to be so popular and evolve across cultures is that it offers comfort for children. After all, losing the first tooth or two can be a traumatic experience and the tooth fairy brings some excitement.
Today, at HollowBrook Dental, we use the tooth fairy to encourage dental health. We work with parents to encourage children to keep their teeth clean and healthy with the idea that clean, healthy teeth get a higher reward. This makes dental visits much easier for our pediatric patients.