How Did the Tooth Fairy Myth Start?

There’s no doubt about it: the Tooth Fairy is a beloved part of our culture. And it’s a genius idea, really. What better way to get kids to have positive associations with their teeth than to tell them there’s a magical fairy that gives them money for teeth that fall out? But it wasn’t just a few clever parents who came up with the Tooth Fairy one fine day. The myth of the Tooth Fairy, and of giving up our baby teeth in some sort of ritual, has been around for centuries.

girl dressed up as a fairy, jumping high in the air

Importance of Ritual

Disposing of baby teeth has been an important ritual in cultures throughout the ages. Losing a tooth can be a very frightening experience for a child, so ritualizing it with a tradition makes it less scary. In certain rituals, baby teeth were buried, burned, or even consumed in a ceremony to say goodbye to the baby tooth while welcoming the adult tooth.

Tooth Fairy Origins

There are many competing Tooth Fairy origin stories, including Italian and French myths. One of the first mentions of a fairy related to teeth was an 18th-century French fairy tale called “La Bonne Petite Souris,” in which a mouse helps a wrongfully imprisoned queen escape from an evil king. The mouse turned out to be a fairy, and she hides the king’s teeth under his pillow before doing away with him. The book was re-released in English in the 1920s, but it didn’t take off in America until after World War II.

1950s Perfect Cauldron

The Tooth Fairy became popular in America in the 1950s due to multiple factors. Firstly, after World War II, American families had more money to spend on unnecessary items, like coins for their children’s teeth. The world was also becoming more child-centered, with children’s experiences being respected as worthwhile in their own right, not just as a lead-up to adulthood. It was also a time when fairy stories were very popular in books and movies, for example the fairy Tinkerbelle from the Disney movie Peter Pan was widely popular. And so the Tooth Fairy myth took off!

If all this talk about baby teeth has made you think about the health of you or your child’s teeth, contact our team today to speak to our friendly staff.

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