History of the Tooth Fairy

History of the Tooth Fairy

Written by: Romanian Dental Team


The tooth fairy, along with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, is one of the most important fantasy figures in North American mythology for children. The legend says that when a child loses a baby tooth, he or she must place it under the pillow and the tooth fairy will come while the child is sleeping and replace the tooth with a small amount of money. The tooth fairy might be a very important figure in the child's perception of dental care and she sure knows how to turn a loss into a small gain.
Children in the United States and other English speaking countries are accustomed to leaving their teeth under a pillow for the fairy. This helps them get over the loss of the tooth by making them believe that a benevolent figure rewards them for their small act of bravery. Teaching children how to take care of their teeth using stories and fantastic figures might be a very good solution after all.

How the tooth fairy came to be

The tooth fairy’s appearance is not as detailed as that of Santa Claus, for example. This fantasy figure is shrouded in myth, but is seems that her arrival on the mythological scene took place at the end of the 1920s. The first documented reference is in an eight page play for children by Esther Watkins Arnold, in 1920, while oral references date back to the turn of the 20th century.
The tooth fairy is believed to be of American origin, a mix between existing figures that sneak into the rooms of children and steal baby teeth (usually mice) and the more general good fairy. The tooth fairy became popular with the help of pop culture: she is present in children’s boots, accessories and toys for children and movies.

The tooth fairy around the world

If in America and other English speaking countries children believe in the tooth fairy, around the world the fantastic figure that rewards children for their teeth is very different. And so are the traditions that surround baby teeth.
In Spain and other Hispanic cultures, Perez Mouse is the one who collects baby teeth from under the pillow. The mouse does exactly as the tooth fairy and leaves a small amount of money (or another small gift) under the pillow after it takes the tooth.  The French also have a benevolent mouse that replaces teeth from under the pillow. In some Asian countries children throw their teeth onto the roof of the house and in some Middle Eastern countries children also toss their teeth up in the air.
The child’s relationship with the dentist is very important and children must know how to take care of their teeth, especially as the baby teeth are replaced by the permanent ones. The tooth fairy is here to stay and she will continue to be an important mythical figure in dental care.


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