The Tooth Fairy

The history behind the myth and today’s more modern traditions.


The Tooth Fairy is often a fond memory of one’s childhood, similar to the way we remember Santa Clause, or the Easter Bunny. But where did this mythical creature originate, and how can Drs. Hochberg and Diora use the Tooth Fairy as a tool to encourage dental health in young children?

There are many traditions around the world commemorating the loss of a child’s tooth. In Italy, the Tooth Fairy is thought to be a mouse, named Topolino. In fact, many countries, portray the Tooth Fairy character as a mouse.  In Asian countries, tradition has been to have the child throw his or her tooth onto the rooftop of their house. And in Japan, the lost tooth is often thrown straight down to the ground if an upper tooth and straight into the air if it is a lower tooth, symbolizing that the teeth are to grow in straight.

The Tooth Fairy legend as we know it to be, a tiny fairy in a tutu with fairy wings, is believed to have originated in the United States. And although it began in the early part of the 1900’s, the custom has remained popular even today. The folklore states that when children lose one of their baby teeth, it should be placed under their pillow. Once they are fast asleep, the Tooth Fairy will visit and replace the tooth with a small payment.

According to a survey conducted by VISA INC., an American child will receive $3.70 per tooth on average. However, in recent years with influences like mommy blogs and Pinterest, many parents choose to get a bit more creative when rewarding their child for losing a tooth. With ideas like hand written notes from the Tooth Fairy, dental fairy dust (glitter) sprinkled on a pillow or bedding, or even incentives like eluding that a perfect tooth receives a greater reward than a decayed one, the possibilities are endless.

In the event a baby tooth may need a little extra help by the dentist to “wiggle” it out, the Tooth Fairy can oftentimes be the voice to praise the child for their bravery. A colorful note accompanied by a small treat, encourages the child at his or her level of understanding.

By the time all 32 permanent teeth have come in, your child will have lost a total of 20 primary teeth. The expectations of each lost tooth vary from family to family, but the goal is to encourage your child to brush, floss, and keep their teeth healthy for a lifetime. The Tooth Fairy is always watching.

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