A Look at the History of the Tooth Fairy from Lynn Dental Care
For many of us, the tooth fairy was an important part of our childhoods. Losing a tooth was made all the more exciting when you could put it under your pillow and wake up to money in its place. At Lynn Dental Care, we always enjoy when our younger patients come in and show off their latest missing tooth and tell us what the tooth fairy left for them under their pillow.
However, the tooth fairy hasn’t been around as long as other popular figures like Santa Claus. Humans have had a number of different traditions involving children’s teeth for thousands of years, many of which have played a role in the tooth fairy story we are familiar with. In today’s Lynn Dental Care blog, we take a look at the history of these traditions and how that led to the tooth fairy that we all know and love.
Origins in Europe
Some of the earliest accounts of traditions with children’s teeth come from the Middle Ages. It was a common belief at the time that if a witch gained possession of a person’s body parts that a curse could be placed on that person. Many also believed that if teeth weren’t disposed of properly, the person would spend the afterlife searching for the teeth. To prevent curses and issues in the afterlife, baby teeth were often burned or buried as soon as a child lost them.
Victory for the Vikings
As time went on, beliefs about teeth began to change. Vikings believed that children’s teeth would bring good luck in battle, and warriors would often pay children for their teeth. The Vikings would then make necklaces out of the teeth to harness the good luck as they fought.
Providing cash for teeth became a more common practice across Europe as well. Many groups only provided a reward for the sixth tooth, and the tooth wasn’t always taken in exchange for the gift.
Similarities Across Cultures
While in the United States the tooth fairy is often portrayed as human, many other cultures have similar characters that are animals, such as mice, bats, bears, and more. Many Hispanic cultures have a tooth fairy-esque character called Ratón Pérez (or el Ratón de los Dientes), a mouse that will exchange a tooth placed under a pillow for gifts.
The Tooth Fairy Today
The earliest written evidence of the tooth fairy in the US was found in the early 20th century. The amount of money paid for each tooth varies widely across the country, but the current average is around $2. Many parents use the tooth fairy as a way to encourage better oral hygiene in their children—the tooth fairy pays more for healthier and cleaner teeth.
Oral Health Services from Lynn Dental Care
Whether or not you believe in the tooth fairy, you should believe in good oral health habits. At Lynn Dental Care, the health of your teeth and mouth is our top priority. Dr. Brock Lynn and the Lynn Dental Care team have been providing excellent quality general and cosmetic dentistry services to the Dallas area for over 30 years. We also offer orthodontics and periodontist services to provide our patients with the best overall care. For more information on our services, check out the Lynn Dental Care website and schedule your appointment at our Dallas dentist office at 972-934-1400.