The legend of the Tooth Fairy

Do you remember placing your baby teeth under a pillow and having money magically appear the next day? A visit from a Tooth Fairy is a very big deal for a lot of children. Over many centuries parents have developed traditions to excite their children about losing their first chompers. It can provide comfort to many kids who may experience pain and fear associated with losing their baby teeth.

The Tooth Fairy folklore began in early Europe when children buried their teeth in the garden so a new tooth would grow in its place. As the cities grew, the traditions have changed and teeth began to get ‘buried’ under the pillow. This is how the modern legend of the Tooth Fairy was born and is wide-spread through many English speaking countries like Australia, England, Canada and United States.

In 1908, the Chicago Daily Tribune suggested that the child should place a tooth under the pillow and mothers should replace it with a gift such as five cent piece1.

Even the Tooth Fairy is not immune to inflation and these days one to five dollars seems to be a common rate per tooth.

However the Tooth Fairy doesn’t visit children all over the world. In Spain, Greece, Italy, France and many South American countries kids’ teeth get collected by a mouse that in return will place a gift or money under the pillow.

In Brazil, lost baby teeth get collected by a bird but only if they are clean. What a great way to promote good oral hygiene from an early age!

In many Asian and African countries it is customary to throw teeth either on the roof or towards the sun. Japanese tradition suggests that upper teeth should be thrown down to the ground and lower teeth vertically into the air so the permanent teeth will grow straight and even2.

No matter what tradition you tend to follow, sooner or later children will question whether the Tooth Fairy may not be real. It is best to gently explain to them that it is a custom that children and parents have been continuing for centuries. Remind them of how much fun they had placing the tooth under a pillow and receiving a gift in return. If there is a younger sibling, ask them to keep it a secret so they can have just as much fun believing in the Tooth Fairy.

Here at Bite Dental we recommend that children come to their dental appointments every 6 to 12 months to ensure that Tooth Fairy visits them when it supposed to and those pearly whites are kept in good shape for life!


1.Chicago Daily Tribune, 27 September 1908

2.Legends of the tooth fairy, RDH Magazine

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