Where Did the Tooth Fairy Come From, Anyway?

Tooth Fairy Origin

The tooth fairy is real!

Or so you thought, the first time you lifted your pillow and saw a quarter staring back at you. Of course, if you’re over a certain age, a quarter for a tooth might have been considered excessive. Maybe a nickel was all your tooth was worth back then.

But who is the magical creature who left you gifts throughout your childhood?

Who Is the Tooth Fairy?

It’s only in modern America that the tooth fairy is pictured as a benevolent, magical creature. The tooth fairy secured a foothold in pop culture between the 1950s and 1970s, with the popularity of Disney’s “fairy godmothers,” and a book on the legend released in 1927.

In Hispanic cultures, El Raton de Los Dientes, also known as Raton Perez, is the creature believed to sneak away with baby teeth, leaving presents behind. In Argentina, children place the tooth in a glass of water. In the morning, the mouse will have drained the glass of water and left a present inside.

In Asian cultures, the tradition shifts dramatically. Instead of placing the tooth by their bedside, children throw their lost upper teeth onto the floor and toss their lost lower teeth onto the roof because tradition says the new teeth will be pulled toward the missing teeth.

The ways different cultures handle the loss of baby teeth has always differed, depending on the period in history, the religion and the geographical location.

Vikings put baby teeth on a necklace to protect themselves in battle. Some cultures advocated swallowing teeth, while some threw all baby teeth into the fire.

What’s the Going Rate?

Now you’re older, you’ve come to realize that the real tooth fairy is the parent, and you have to be prepared. As of 2013, the average payout from parent to child for one lost tooth was $3.70. In 2012, the average was only $3, so inflation is taking its toll.

If you grew up receiving a nickel or a quarter, it’s time you knew that trends have changed. Now, no parents want their children to be the ones who got the least money for their teeth, so spare change won’t cut it anymore.

If you can’t seem to decide on a set amount for your child, don’t fret. Visa has you covered with their tooth fairy calculator smartphone app. You can input your age, income level, family size and location and you’ll get an accurate calculation on how much to give your child based on real data.

By the time your children know and love the story of the tooth fairy, they should be seeing the family dentist regularly. If you don’t have a dental team you can depend on, consider partnering with Oak Hills Dentistry and working with us to maintain your child’s oral health.

And when your children get excited about losing a baby tooth and getting money from the tooth fairy, use the opportunity to share about how important it is to keep their teeth clean and healthy — those lessons will last a lifetime.