The Origin of the Tooth Fairy

Losing a baby tooth is usually an exciting time for children and their parents. Most children are thrilled at the prospect of a nighttime visit from the mythical tooth fairy. Like other ancient myths, the tooth fairy origin story is interesting. Keep reading to learn more about someone surpassed only by Santa Claus in popularity among children. And if you need help finding a children’s dentist we have offices in North Charleston, West Ashley, Summerville, Mount Pleasant, James Island, and Hanahan, SC.

To learn more about our pediatric dental services, schedule an appointment at Trident Dental to let your child meet our friendly and professional oral health care professionals.

A European Predecessor 

Although there is no direct link between the tooth fairy and Europe, it seems that precursors to this tradition may have existed during the Middle Ages. Parents in Northern Europe during this time paid a “tooth fee” when a child lost their first tooth. Writings from Norse culture during this time record children’s teeth bringing good luck during battles—this belief was strong enough that fighting soldiers wore children’s teeth around their necks. 

There was a superstition in England during this time period that children’s baby teeth affected their afterlife. If children failed to burn their baby teeth in fire, they faced the hardship of endless searching for them in eternity. Other European cultures burned or buried baby teeth to ward off witches.

America’s Tooth Fairy Origin Story

It seems likely that the “real” tooth fairy’s origin is more recent and closer to home than these ancient traditions and superstitions. In 1908, Author Lillian Brown had a solution to help parents coax their child into wiggling a loose tooth out. Her idea, published in the Chicago Tribune, was to convince the child to place the tooth under their pillow. If they followed this instruction, the tooth fairy would leave a five-cent gift in place of the tooth.

Lillian Brown’s suggestion caught on and spread widely as it was republished. The myth persisted and turned the loss of teeth into a profitable experience for young children. Perhaps due to inflation and other factors, children in America average as much as 5 to 8 dollars per tooth. 

The Importance of Baby Teeth

Although losing baby teeth and visits from the tooth fairy are fun for the whole family, baby teeth serve essential functions for a child. Baby teeth help ensure:

  • Healthy nutrition. Baby teeth help your child chew and digest their food. Premature loss can cause problems, such as nutritional deficiencies and gastrointestinal issues.

  • Clear speech. The  position of each baby tooth helps your child speak clearly. Since children learn to say so many words at a young age, it is critical to maintaining baby teeth until the permanent teeth can erupt.

  • Straight teeth. If your child loses a baby tooth too early, it can lead to crooked and crowded permanent teeth.

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Regular dental checkups can help keep your child’s teeth healthy and prevent problems that can affect their adult teeth. Contact us if you have questions about bringing your child to the dentist for the first time. The pediatric dentists at Trident Dental can help make your child’s dentist visits fun and relaxing.

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