But where did the tooth fairy come from? That’s a harder question to answer. Some scholars point to the Viking tradition of the tooth fee, or tann-fé, paid to children when they lost their first tooth.
Wherever the tooth fairy came from, it wasn’t a popular creature until around 1900. The big population explosion in tooth fairies came around 1950 and now these little winged creatures travel far and wide throughout the English speaking world.
Things are a bit different for Spanish speaking countries. They don’t have a tooth fairy, but they do have Ratoncito Pérez (“Pérez the Mouse”) or “el Ratón de los Dientes” (“the tooth mouse”) who behaves very similarly. It’s thought a mouse is a good choice to trade money for teeth because, in addition to being small and sneaky, rodent teeth are sharp, strong and never stop growing. They won’t keep a kid’s tooth for themselves making them the perfect thief for the Tooth Fairy Corporation.
In parts of Asia, children throw teeth from the lower jaw straight up into the air, while teeth from the upper jaw are thrown straight at the ground. This is to encourage the new tooth to grow in straight and true. The tooth fairy just has to come along at night and pick them up from the ground. They don’t even have to pay for them!
Whichever tooth fairy visits your home, it’s important to acknowledge the milestones they represent. From the first tooth that grows in, teeth are an important part of our lives and how we see ourselves.
Losing teeth can be scary and embarrassing. Visits and gifts from the tooth fairy can help you embrace the changes that come with growing up into big kids.