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The Legend of the Tooth Fairy

added on: May 21, 2014
Talking about the Tooth Fairy - little boy holding lost tooth

The Tooth Fairy! Almost every child knows about her. And when that first tooth is lost, they wait breathlessly for her to visit their bedsides and tuck a coin or even a dollar under their pillows. It is a really useful tradition– one that helps remove the worry and concern children naturally have over losing a tooth.

But where did this story originate? What in the world did a lost tooth have to do with fairies? Why do we exchange money for the tooth? And why are the teeth tucked under the pillow?

The Fairy

The origin of the tooth fairy may have been a mouse! Actually, the tradition of the mouse still continues in many  cultures today, while some children throw their tooth in the air for birds to catch or on the roof and make a wish.

There is some speculation that the mouse so often used to gather teeth in other cultures, was transformed to a fairy in our own after the publication of the tale, “La Bonne Petite Souris,” or “The Good Little Mouse.” In this story, a mouse hides under the pillow of an evil King, changes into a fairy, and knocks out all his teeth. Others speculate that the fairy developed simply as one of the more popular ways of explaining what happened to the lost teeth. In any case, the tooth fairy in her present form only came into being in the 20th century.

The Money

In many myths and legends, teeth have special powers to ward off evil or impart special strength. They were considered so powerful that they were worth paying for… evidenced by the  “tooth fee” the Vikings paid their children. When a tooth was lost, they would string the tooth onto a necklace thought to aid them in battle. This is probably where the payment for teeth originated.

The Pillow

Since teeth were considered so powerful, burying teeth to hide them from witches was common practice. Sometimes they were buried in flowerpots and eventually, the tradition moved indoors and the teeth were “buried” under a pillow.

Tips for making the tooth fairy even more fun:

1. Kids love to decorate so why not work together to create a special tooth fairy box or bag that can be used again and again?
2. Instead of simply leaving money, decorate the dollar bill with a gold or silver pen, or leave a little glitter with the money or gift.
3. Write a note to your children from the tooth fairy complimenting them on their great hygiene ( if they have been doing well) or gently suggesting a little more brushing and flossing (if they have been a little less than diligent).

Remember to have fun and celebrate every special moment with your child – even something as simple as a lost tooth could be transformed into a memory he or she cherishes forever. For a little extra fun, here is a great video about Peppa the Pig and her experience with the tooth fairy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1n2kahlvDE

For more information about baby teeth, when they should be lost, and how to best care for them, please call Dr. Ehrenman or Dr. Khan at our Long Island pediatric dental office today.