alarm-ringing ambulance angle2 archive arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up at-sign baby baby2 bag binoculars book-open book2 bookmark2 bubble calendar-check calendar-empty camera2 cart chart-growth check chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up circle-minus circle city clapboard-play clipboard-empty clipboard-text clock clock2 cloud-download cloud-windy cloud clubs cog cross crown cube youtube diamond4 diamonds drop-crossed drop2 earth ellipsis envelope-open envelope exclamation eye-dropper eye facebook file-empty fire flag2 flare foursquare gift glasses google graph hammer-wrench heart-pulse heart home instagram joystick lamp layers lifebuoy link linkedin list lock magic-wand map-marker map medal-empty menu microscope minus moon mustache-glasses paper-plane paperclip papers pen pencil pie-chart pinterest plus-circle plus power printer pushpin question rain reading receipt recycle reminder sad shield-check smartphone smile soccer spades speed-medium spotlights star-empty star-half star store sun-glasses sun tag telephone thumbs-down thumbs-up tree tumblr twitter tiktok wechat user users wheelchair write yelp youtube

Baby Teeth Traditions of the World

As dental health professionals, our favorite figure in the magic of childhood has to be the Tooth Fairy.

We all remember what it was like to leave a baby tooth under the pillow and find a shiny quarter in its place the next morning. It’s fascinating to see how the traditions around baby teeth differ across the world and even in the past.

What Came Before the Tooth Fairy?

Medieval Europeans didn’t leave baby teeth under pillows for the tooth fairy; instead, they buried them in the ground. They believed a witch could control people if she got access to their teeth, so they had to hide them where she couldn’t find them.

Another tradition they had was to burn baby teeth to help ensure a peaceful afterlife because they believed that they might end up stuck as ghosts searching for their teeth for eternity if they weren’t destroyed. That’s a little more intense than a tooth fairy.

A little farther north, the Vikings took a very different view. They considered baby teeth to be good luck in battle — to such an extent that they would buy them in order to make necklaces out of children’s teeth. Would that be strange-looking or intimidating to go up against on the battlefield?

How About a Tooth Mouse?

Not every culture has a magical tooth collector who looks like Tinkerbell. Many European and Latin-American countries instead have a Tooth Mouse! In France, she’s called La Petit Souris (“the little mouse”), and she swaps out teeth hidden under pillows for small gifts or money just like the Tooth Fairy. Spanish-speaking countries typically call their Tooth Mouse “Raton Perez.”

Who Came Up With the Tooth Fairy?

Our modern Tooth Fairy traditions have their roots in European folklore, like many of our other traditions. The version we recognize began in the early 1900s with the help of fairy characters popularized by Walt Disney. They gave the idea enough traction to help it grow into what it became.

What’s the going rate for a baby tooth these days?

Is There Any Real Value in the Tooth Fairy?

We don’t strictly “need” something like the Tooth Fairy, but the idea is a really nice one for little kids. Losing a tooth can be a scary experience, so having something magical to look forward to like a reward from the Tooth Fairy can help a lot. Just keep in mind that you don’t have to rely on fantasy characters alone when it comes to loose tooth concerns. The dentist can help too!

We love our patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.