All About the Tooth Fairy

Who is the Tooth Fairy?

The Tooth Fairy is said to be a 3 to 4-inch-tall fairy who wears a white dress and white slippers with wings that sparkle with glitter when she moves. However, the Tooth Fairy is very stealthy, and no one has claimed to catch her in the act of retrieving teeth from under their pillow. It is said that she lives in a castle and keeps tracks of children’s teeth in a log book and checks it before doing her nightly rounds. Once collected, the children’s baby teeth are stored in a tooth library where the names of all the children around the world are posted.

Children lose 20 baby teeth over the course of a few short years; that’s a lot of teeth! So, the Tooth Fairy gives some of the teeth to her friends to make jewelry out of them. There are a variety of stories and tales about the Tooth Fairy that are told internationally about who she is, where she lives, how baby teeth became valued, what she pays for baby teeth, her hygiene expectations, a museum, and even a national holiday!

History [in the U.S.]

The Tooth Fairy first appeared in a Chicago Daily Tribune “Household Hints” column in September 1908. A reader, Lillian Brown, wrote that “Many a refractory child will allow a loose tooth to be removed if he knows about the Tooth Fairy. If he takes his little tooth and puts it under the pillow when he goes to bed the Tooth Fairy will come in the night and take it away, and in its place, will leave a little gift.” The story was later popularized by Esther Watkins Arnold’s 1927 play for children, The Tooth Fairy.

Longstanding Traditions [around the world]

For hundreds of years, cultures around the world have been celebrating lost baby teeth. In the Middle East, children will throw their baby teeth into the sky (or “to the sun”) and pray for better teeth to replace the lost ones. Throwing teeth is a common practice in several countries, like in Turkey, Mexico, and Greece, where children traditionally toss their baby teeth onto the roof of their house. In India, Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines, children throw their lower teeth upward and their upper teeth to the floor, to encourage the new adult teeth to grow in straight. These traditions may seem fun and innocent, however not all traditions are cheery. In Norway and Finland children are warned of Hammaspeikko, the “tooth troll” who comes to take away children who don’t brush.

The First Tooth Fairy Payment

In Norse mythology from 13th century Scandinavia, a reference is made to the tand-fé (“tooth fee”), a small payment from parent to child to recognize the other side of the milestone—when an infant’s first tooth came in. The ancient poem “Grimnismal” even notes that Alfheim, the “fairy world” was given to their god Frey as a “tooth gift” in his youth. According to various sources, some Viking warriors would later wear their children’s teeth as talismans, believing they’d bestow good luck and protection in battle.

The Value of Baby Teeth

According to an annual survey conducted by Visa, 32 percent of children receive a single dollar per tooth, which is by far the most common amount. Whereas, 5 percent of children received $20 or more per tooth; bringing the nationwide average to $3.19.

Insurance group Delta Dental has been tracking average Tooth Fairy rewards since 1998, and comparing their results to stock market activity. They’ve found that in 12 of the past 13 years, trends in Tooth Fairy payouts have correlated to movement in the S&P 500 (the American stock market index). Their study also notes that in 2015, the Tooth Fairy gave out a total of $256 million dollars!

Tooth Fairy Hygiene Expectations

The Tooth Fairy promotes good dental hygiene from a young age. She pays more for a healthy tooth than one with a dental cavity. If your child is lucky, the fairy might even give extra money when your child brushes their teeth every day twice a day for 2 minutes each time.

Tooth Fairy Expert & Museum

In the 1970’s, Northwestern University Professor Rosemary Wells realized that while the practice of replacing baby teeth with money was extremely popular, little was known about the origins of the Tooth Fairy. She decided to interview anthropologists, parents, and children, write a series of magazine articles exploring the roots of the Tooth Fairy, and conduct a national survey of 2,000 parents to learn more about families’ various traditions and interpretations. Her fascination with the Tooth Fairy led to an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and her business cards were labeled “Tooth Fairy Consultant.”

In 1993, Dr. Wells turned her split-level suburban home in Deerfield, IL into the Tooth Fairy Museum. A popular choice for local elementary school field trips, the museum contained art, dolls, books, and other memorabilia celebrating depictions of this famous fairy across various cultures. The museum closed following Dr. Wells’ death in 2000.

National Tooth Fairy Day

According to toothfairy.org, National Tooth Fairy Day is celebrated annually on February 28. However, other sources and calendars also list the holiday on August 22. With such a busy schedule, the Tooth Fairy doesn’t mind having two days off work to be celebrated.

At Advanced Children’s Dentistry, your Garden City Pediatric Dentist, we want to make sure you and your family promote creativity and daily hygiene habits. Call us today at (516) 758 – KIDS to reserve your child’s dental care appointment.

Advanced Children’s Dentistry is proud to serve the surrounding cities: Mineola, Hempstead, West Hempstead, Franklin Square, Uniondale, New Hyde Park, Westbury, North New Hyde Park, Roosevelt, North Merrick, Roslyn, Carle Place, Williston Park, Old Westbury, Albertson, East Meadow, Garden City Park, Floral Park, East Garden City and many more.

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