The history of the tooth fairy

Children all around the world are told many myths about the places their milk teeth go when they come out. There’s the sneaky mouse, which comes and collects the teeth and leaves a coin in return, as well as the legend of the rabbit who builds his fort with the teeth of naughty children. But, if you’re from a Western World country, you have probably heard the legend of the tooth fairy. 

For interest sake, the tooth mouse expects to find the tooth placed inside of your shoe.

As the story goes, the tooth fairy collects the tooth from beneath your pillow.

Where does it come from?

Losing a tooth can be really scary for a small child. The teeth are part of the body, and some kids may associate losing a tooth with pain or illness. This is why it is important to explain to children that it is a normal part of growing up. This concept may be a bit more difficult to communicate to younger kids.

The teeth fall out from around four years old up until 13 years of age.

The legend of the tooth fairy is cross-cultural and non-religious. The story has been told in every country and even has a selection of animations that can be viewed by children.

The fairy herself is a relatively new rendition of the myths that surround tooth loss.

It is one of many world traditions.

The different versions of the same fairy

In Turkey, Greece and Mexico, kids traditionally toss their baby teeth onto the roof of their house, says Mental Floss. In India, Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines, lower teeth are thrown upward, but teeth from the upper jaw are thrown to the floor, to encourage the new adult teeth to grow straight. 

Some nations have more sombre traditions. Norwegian and Finnish children are warned of Hammaspeikko, the “tooth troll”. This is to scare them into brushing and flossing regularly.

According to an investigation by 123 Dental, early Norse and European traditions suggest that when a child lost a baby tooth, it was buried to spare the child from hardships in the next life.

Another tradition of the tand-fe or tooth fairy originated in Europe for a child’s first tooth, and Vikings used children’s teeth and other items from their children to bring them victory in battle.

Why the need for a legend?

As mentioned above, reasoning with smaller kids about the body’s natural functions can be difficult. Children react to things that excite them and make them happy. At a young age, our imaginations are wild and hungry!

The idea of the tooth fairy not only eases kids into the idea of losing teeth, but it also motivates them to keep their teeth healthy. The tooth fairy usually pays handsomely for clean, healthy teeth.

She, or other variations of the mouse etc, can be used as a motivator for kids to brush, floss and lay off sweets.

 The pop culture tooth fairy

There are no old drawings of what the tooth fairy is supposed to look like. It is, in fact, quite a strange phenomenon that people know of her, but there is no description or even set characteristics she embodies.

Unlike Santa Clause or the Easter bunny, there is no Tooth Fairy aesthetic. The fairy has, however, been portrayed in film many times. The fairy can be played by a male or female lead.

In 2010, actor and former wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson portrayed a new-age version of the legend, as a bruising hockey star who is pressed into fairy duty; the 2012 straight-to-video sequel re-used the concept with comedian Larry the Cable Guy in the title role, Mental Floss continues.

Other versions in cinema include veteran actor Art LaFleur in wings for The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3.

Isla Fisher voiced an animated version of the Tooth Fairy for the 2012 Golden-Globe nominated film Rise of the Guardians.

Why do teeth fall out?

Milk teeth, also known as baby teeth, fall out to make way for a permanent set of adult teeth.

When a permanent tooth is ready to push through the gum, the root of a baby tooth or milk tooth begins to dissolve until it’s completely dissolved and only held in place by the surrounding gum tissue. Children can usually recognise this process as their teeth start to feel ‘loose’ in the gum or jaw.  

Warn your kids not to play with or pull at the loose tooth. They can cause trauma to the gum tissue, and this can lead to painful swelling and infection.

Kids should definitely have regular oral check-ups. Your dentist can help you and your child through the many changes they will experience in the first years of life.

Having dental insurance can mitigate the costs of all the check-ups and possibly dental interventions that may come along as they grow.

Milk teeth may not be permanent, but taking care of your child’s overall oral hygiene is very important.

Affinity Dental offers affordable premiums and essential benefits with three expertly crafted dental insurance plans, structured to suit you and your family’s needs.

Children have many dental needs before they have lost their milk teeth and also once their permanent teeth start appearing. Having a dental plan in place can save you money by having you covered for the usual childhood dental qualms like tooth decay, mouth sores and other complaints. The dental cover will also assist with orthodontic needs such as braces and Invisalign. Policies do, however, vary regarding the amount of cover for braces.

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