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August 13th, 2018

Tooth Fairy Traditions From Around the World

Category: cincinnati dentist

Nearly every culture in the world has some tradition in place for celebrating or disposing of children’s lost baby teeth. Customs and cultural beliefs related to teeth have been in place for centuries, and vary by nation across the world.

tooth fairy traditions hagen dental blog

The United States

The fantasy concept of the Tooth Fairy is the most wide spread and most recent children’s tooth tradition in the United States and in most Western and Western-influenced cultures. The Tooth Fairy as a standard visitor after a tooth falls out is standard tradition for most households in America. In most accounts, the Tooth Fairy is a female character.

As the custom goes, the child places the tooth under the pillow, and once asleep, the tooth fairy stops by, retrieves the baby tooth, and leaves money in its place. In the morning, the delighted child finds the gift in place of the tooth.

The image creation of the gift-bearing tooth fairy was inspired by various European folklore tales – such as the fairies featured in many classic movies, such as the character Tinkerbell from Peter Pan. The current going rate for a lost tooth in America averages at just under $5 (1, 2, 3).

we care about those baby teeth

Hispanic Cultures

Residents of Spain, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Columbia have a different folklore character who visits when children’s teeth fall out – a Tooth Mouse named “Raton Perez”. The mouse also goes by the name “El Raton de Los Dientes”. Similar to the Tooth Fair, this Tooth Mouse visits after a child loses a tooth and places it under their pillow.

Raton Perez will replace the tooth with a gift – sometimes monetary in form, but not always – for the child to discover in the morning.

In Argentina specifically, some kids place the tooth in a glass of water instead of under their pillow. Legend has it that the thirsty Perez will drink the water, grab the tooth, and leave the gift in the empty glass (2, 3).

Europe

In Europe during the Middle Ages, there was a custom of burying baby teeth in the ground upon falling out. This custom was thought to ensure the adult teeth would grow in their place and to save the child from hardship in the afterlife.

Today, many of countries in Europe which are primarily English-speaking countries follow a tooth fairy tradition similar to the American custom.

France (and some parts of Belgium) boasts its own version of the Tooth Mouse: “La Bonne Petite Souris.” Children leave their lost teeth under their pillow, and the tiny mouse will stop by the house, retrieve the tooth, and leave money, or oftentimes, sweets and candies.

Italy also has their version of the Tooth Mouse, named “Topolino” (1, 2, 4).

Asia

In some Asian countries such as India, China, Japan and Korea, kids who lose teeth from the lower jaw follow a practice of throwing those teeth onto their home’s roof. Teeth from the upper jaw go on the floor, or are placed under the floor. The idea behind this tradition is the hope that the new, adult teeth will be pulled towards the old tooth.

In areas of Central Asia, such as Mongolia, it is a custom to feed the lost baby tooth to a dog. The tradition stems from the desire to have the adult tooth that follows to grow in as strong as a dog’s tooth. If no dog is available, it is traditional to bury the tooth near a tree so that the new adult tooth will have strong roots like a tree (2).

Middle Eastern Countries

Iraq, Jordan and Egypt residents follow a similar “throwing” tradition as many of the Asian countries. Here, you’ll see a custom where kids throw their teeth into the air towards the sky, sun, or Allah. One hope is that the sunlight will help their teeth grow in faster. This upward-bound tossing of the teeth potentially dates back as far as the 13th century, when it was considered a pre-Islamic offering.

In Malaysia, kids customarily bury their lost baby teeth in the ground, simply as a way to return them to nature.

In Nepal, children bury their lost teeth in a secret, hidden location (2, 3, 4).

tooth fairies traditions and stories found throughout the world

We Care About Your Family’s Teeth

No matter WHAT your baby teeth traditions entail, here at Hagen Dental, we want you to keep all the adult teeth AND all the baby teeth in your family healthy and strong, both for the benefit of the tooth fairy and for your dental health for years to come.

Set up your next appointment with us! Give us a call today at (513) 251-5500. We’re looking forward to meeting you and your family, or seeing you come in again!

Sources:

  1. http://www.childrens-dental.com/blog/the-tooth-fairy-tradition/
  2. http://mentalfloss.com/article/58503/7-tooth-fairy-traditions-around-world
  3. https://www.marcieinmommyland.com/tooth-fairy-traditions-from-around-the-world/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tooth_fairy

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