The Origins of The Tooth Fairy

We’ve all grown up hearing about the Tooth Fairy and now that we know that it’s not real, what are the reasons of the practice of parents placing money in return for missing baby teeth under their child's pillow and then claiming to have been visited by the Tooth Fairy? Here's a short history of the American Tooth Fairy culture.


European roots

While the loss of baby teeth has traditionally been a widely celebrated occurrence for an infant, it is difficult to determine the exact origin of many dental traditions. For instance, several European countries have a tooth-collecting mouse that replaces the missing tooth of a child with a reward but the origin of this mouse is unknown.


Perhaps, the custom may have been a more welcoming take on a grotesque French fairy tale written by Madame D'Aulnoy in the late 1700s or perhaps an adornment of the Spanish story of Ratón Pérez written by Luis Coloma in the late 1800s. Although, in Britain, by the late Victorian era, missing teeth were left out for a mouse or squirrel to take.


Tooth fairy in American history

The earliest oral descriptions of a tooth-collecting creature, most likely inspired by early European tooth rituals, date from the early 20th century in the United States. The first print reference was a column in the Chicago Daily Tribune of 1908 entitled "Household Hints," in which Lillian Brown stated that a child would tolerate removal of a loose tooth if he learns about the tooth fairy. If he picks up his little tooth and places it under the pillow before he goes to bed, the tooth fairy will come in the evening and take it away and leave a little gift in its place. Visiting the 5 cent counter, as per Brown, and laying in a number of articles to be used on these occasions is a good strategy for mothers!


In 1927, Esther Watkins Arnold's publication of a short children's play, “The Tooth Fairy” made the legendary tooth collection fairy even more popular.


Today's culture

Many parents can perpetuate the Tooth Fairy fantasy in order to recall the magic and innocence of childhood to themselves and their children. The Tooth Fairy may also act as a source of security during a rite of passage that may scare a child, with the monetary reward reflecting the growing maturity and responsibility of a child as they step into adulthood.


What's even more rewarding for a child upon losing a tooth is proper dental care. Transiting from childhood to adulthood is a time when their oral health must be in top shape. So, bring them to your dentist in Greeley CO and protect their oral health with the best pediatric dental care!