The Tooth Fairy has been a tradition across cultures for generations. The American Tooth Fairy we know today is a story of a woman that comes to take lost baby teeth, which the kids place under their pillow for pickup. In the morning, kids find money, a toy, or oral care prizes in place of their lost tooth.
But where did the idea of the Tooth Fairy actually come from in the first place? Here we uncover the story behind one of our most popular and iconic fantasy figures from our childhood!
A Tradition with Deep Roots
The Tooth Fairy comes from a myth that, like cultures, has evolved over time. In Early European tradition, a child’s lost tooth was burned or buried as people believed it would prevent the child from experiencing suffering in the next life.
In some cultures, a child’s first lost tooth was taken by their father to battle because they thought it brought them good luck. Every human culture ever recorded has some tradition or ritual for disposing of their children’s lost baby teeth !
Developing into our Modern Version
In 18 th century French culture, the Tooth Fairy myth was actually about a mouse that would go into children’s rooms and remove the baby teeth at night, based on a fairy tale called La Bonne Petite Souris .
A unique fact about rodents’ teeth—they continue to grow their whole lives. This is because these animals are constantly chewing and biting in the wild, so their teeth are continually growing to provide them with strong teeth throughout their lives.
The idea behind this mouse Tooth Fairy was that the strong teeth the rodent had would bring the children strong healthy teeth when they came to collect human baby teeth at night.
The Tooth Fairy Today
While the idea of the Tooth Fairy has ancient origins, our modern Tooth Fairy concept has a rather recent origin.
The American Tooth Fairy as we know her today was inspired by the mouse legend from Europe, but it’s been changed a bit for our culture. In 1927, a short American play was published by Esther Watkins Arnold called The Tooth Fairy that modernized the Tooth Fairy as what most kids and adults know today .
The Tooth Fairy is, of course, more than a myth or a story we tell our children. The Tooth Fairy brings comfort to kids as they grow up. It can be scary for kids to experience changes as their body grows, and losing teeth can certainly be distressing. The Tooth Fairy, as well as dentists and parents, can play an integral role in comforting children and encouraging them to take care of their teeth!