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The History of the Tooth Fairy

Tales of the Tooth Fairy from around the world!

Origins of the Tooth Fairy

Children can start losing baby teeth as early as age five. While a loose tooth hanging by a thread may cause some anxiety in children, it is also a very exciting milestone. One of the joys in life is seeing a child wake up to find money or treat left behind by the Tooth Fairy. Like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, your child may someday ask about the tooth fairy: where does it live? What does it look like? The answer you provide will likely depend on your personal or regional culture, or you may come up with creative answers for your child. But where DID the tooth fairy come from and how did this tradition begin?

Traditions of the Tooth Fairy date back thousands of years. There are several different versions of the Tooth Fairy's origin from around the world:

  • One of the earliest recordings of a "tooth fairy" occurred in Europe as the Norse and Northern European traditions called the "tand-fe" or tooth fee. When children lose their teeth, a small amount of money was paid to them by adults or parents. It was believed that children's teeth brought good luck in battle; thus, created necklaces out of them.
  • In Russia, Spain, Greece, France, and China, it is not a fairy but a mouse who enters a child's room and removes the lost baby tooth from under a pillow or the nightstand. The tooth is then replaced with money or a gift.
  • In Brazil, a bird collects only clean baby teeth that are lost.
  • The earliest recording of the Tooth Fairy in the United States dates back in 1908, when the Chicago Daily Tribune proposed that kids should place their lost tooth under their pillow and moms should replace it with a nickel.

Thanks to popular culture, the Tooth Fairy has become a household name, making losing a tooth a more pleasant experience for children. Some parents make the lucky decision of how much to place under a child's pillow after collecting their tooth based on current economics, child's behavior, and condition of the tooth.

From Garden to Pillow

The contemporary version of the Tooth Fairy involves children placing their lost tooth under a pillow. Did you know that it stems from early Europe when Children buried their lost tooth in the gardens so that the new tooth will grow to replace the missing tooth?

Your child should have all twenty teeth in their mouth by age three. Reach out to their dentist if there are more or less than twenty teeth present by this age.