The History Behind the Tooth Fairy Legend|National Tooth Fairy Day

By: The Mint Dentistry Team


When a child loses a tooth, they know to put the tooth under their pillow at night to receive money or treats in exchange. (Some, even tying a string around lose teeth and a doorknob to make the process unfold more quickly!) The Tooth Fairy is a common folklore in our culture today, but where did the story originally come from? It's National Tooth Fairy Day, and we're going to dive deep into the history of this legend to discover why we're compensated for losing our teeth.

Tooth-Loss Traditions

Throughout the centuries, people have found different ways of disposing of baby teeth. Many years ago, children and adults would lose their teeth primarily because they didn't have the tools for proper oral care. Because of this, in countries in Europe and the Americas, people would leave their teeth as an offering to mice that were believed to have good strong teeth. The people hoped this offering would help their teeth grow back.

Certain cultures and Indian tribes would plant baby teeth in sacred locations in hopes that this would help the permanent teeth grow in or provide the child luck in the future. In Tibet, they would crush the lost tooth and then toss the dust into the wind. Other cultures would include baby teeth in their clothing or jewelry while others fed them to dogs — but most tooth-loss rituals were taught to children by their parents in hopes to bring stronger healthier adult teeth as replacements.

History of the Tooth Fairy

A French story from the 18th century called, La Bonne Petite Souris (The Little Mouse), seems to be the closest to our modern-day version of the Tooth Fairy. In this story, an evil king traps a queen, and a mouse comes to her rescue. To the queen's surprise, the mouse is actually a fairy who rescues the queen and knocks out the king's teeth and she hides them under his pillow before he is killed. (Yikes! Talk about a family-friendly tale!)

In the 1920s, this story was released in English, which led the mouse-fairy to new levels of recognition. Though this story was more widely available, the Tooth Fairy didn't become the phenomenon we know today until after World War II.

The Rise of the Tooth Fairy

As prosperity increased in the United States after the end of WWII, parents had more money to give to their children. The Tooth Fairy was a fun way for families to celebrate the rite of passage of losing one's baby teeth. The media, of course, helped influence this phenomenon. In the 1950s, movies featured good fairies such as Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and Tinkerbell, reinforcing this idea in children's minds.

From 1993 to 2000, a Tooth Fairy Museum was established in Deerfield, Illinois, where visitors could see drawings and books about the Tooth Fairy and the history of its becoming. Boxes of baby teeth were even featured prominently throughout the exhibits. Still today, the Tooth Fairy is a cultural icon who can be found in various movies and stories — and she's even featured in ads for dental products and runs an advice column called, "Ask the Tooth Fairy" with the American Dental Association!

While the Tooth Fairy, in its modern form, was a uniquely American story — the present-day tradition has made its way around the globe. Today, children in countries like Britain, Ireland, Canada, and Australia receive visits from the Tooth Fairy with evidence of candy and coins left in exchange for their baby teeth.

Many cultures throughout history have held various traditions when it comes to losing baby teeth. But nothing compares to the cultural phenomenon of the Tooth Fairy. From museums to movies to commercials, this story has been passed down for generations, giving parents and kids a fun way to celebrate the transition from childhood to adolescence.

The Tooth Fairy rewards you with money and at MINT dentistry, we reward our patients with FREE whitening (with PPO dental insurance) and a luxurious dental experience (that is actually affordable) from the waiting room to your massaging dental chair. Book your next dental appointment with MINT today!

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