Most children these days are aware of the tooth fairy, if not only for the simple fact that a lost tooth equals a free coin or two. What is little known, though, is the story of how the legend of the tooth fairy came to be. Across Australia (especially in West End and Highgate Hill), the tale of the tooth fairy is predominantly one of a Tinkerbell-esque character who appears when children are sleeping to exchange their baby tooth for a coin or a small gift. The story hasn’t always been this way though.
The history of the Tooth Fairy:
How the story of the tooth fairy began is still somewhat of a mystery, however it seems as though it is a combination of myths and folktales from around the globe. One of the most common tales across the world, from Russia, to New Zealand, to Mexico is that the tooth fairy originated as a mouse. Children would leave their lost teeth out at night as a tribute to the mythical rodent in the hopes that their adult teeth would grow in as strong as a mouse’s. In some countries, the story has progressed into the mouse leaving money or gifts in exchange for a lost tooth.
The first official mention of ‘The Tooth Fairy’ was in 1908, when the Chicago Daily Tribune published a short article introducing her. The gist of the article was that should a child leave a lost tooth under their pillow when they go to bed, they will be visited by the Tooth Fairy, who will take it away in exchange for a small gift. It even advised mothers that they should be prepared with a supply of 5 cent gifts for such occasions.
Combined with a little bit of Disney magic from the likes of Tinkerbell and Cinderella, and the idea that a tooth fairy would be a bit more palatable than a tooth mouse, the Tooth Fairy began to take shape and become a widespread global icon. A lot has changed since the inception of the character though. From it’s humble beginnings of exchanging a tooth for a 5 cent gift, it is now not uncommon for children to receive several dollars for a single tooth. It appears the Tooth Fairy is not immune to inflation! Apparently, the average amount left for a single tooth is $3.19, with most parents paying between $1-5 per tooth.
What children at Highgate Hill Dental know about the Tooth Fairy
Because everyone has a slightly different way of imagining the Tooth Fairy, we decided to ask Dr Vanessa Romer what her young kids know about the Tooth Fairy. They said that the Tooth Fairy is a little glittery fairy with a gold bell in her castle that makes a special sound when a kid loses a tooth. Lost teeth need to be put under the pillow or on a bedside table so she can find them and leave a small thank you payment in return. If you lose a tooth at school and can’t find it, it’s important to leave a note under the pillow for the fairy to go back and find the tooth, also so she can leave a payment for the tooth.
Since the fairy uses baby teeth to build beautiful castles, she loves clean, sparkly teeth. If the tooth has a black spot or a little hole the fairy will throw them into a dragon’s mouth to be burnt into dust.
The kids also identified some very crafty reasons why the Tooth Fairy might occasionally miss collecting your tooth:
- It was raining and she couldn’t fly because her wings got wet.
- She was sick and the replacement fairy got too busy or confused.
- Your room was very messy and she couldn’t see where she was going.
Tips from the Tooth Fairy and Dr Vanessa Romer:
The Tooth Fairy is not just a fun character or something to make the kids excited about a loose tooth. It is actually an incredibly useful tool when it comes to encouraging good oral hygiene habits in children. Some ideas include promoting the idea that the Tooth Fairy loves to visit kids who brush or floss their teeth, or that healthier ‘clean’ teeth are exchanged for bigger and better things. This doesn’t necessarily mean more money either – it could be a voucher to go to the park, or picking a movie to watch together.
If you’re wondering when the best time is to bring your little ones in, we suggest that age three is perfect for a first check-up. In saying this, we do recommend that some time before their first visit, they come along to an older sibling’s or parent’s check-up to see what a visit to the dentist is all about and that it can be fun!
Happy brushing and flossing, and we’ll see you at your next check-up!