Origins: The Tooth Fairy (2024)

The Tooth Fairy, like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, is a legendary figure solely (or at least primarily) believed in by children. Largely a phenomenon of the Western World, the Tooth Fairy is well known for visiting children who have lost their teeth and replacing the missing tooth with a coin – the value of that coin varying by location and averaging around £1 in the UK and $5 in America.

Though the Tooth Fairy is well known, she does not quite have the popularity of her two compatriots, and her origins are very murky – in fact, there is no true consensus on where precisely the legend of the Tooth Fairy came from. Instead, there are a number of tooth related traditions and tales thought to have contributed to the legend.

Around the world, there are a great number of small rituals and superstitions that revolve around a child’s lost tooth. One British superstition held that a child’s baby teeth should be buried in the garden to ensure the new tooth would grow in straight and strong – this was also thought to keep the tooth away from witches, who could use them to magically cause injury or illness to the child. Other ways to keep your baby tooth safe from witches involved swallowing or burning the tooth. On the other side of the world, according to an Indonesian superstition, the child should throw the tooth over their shoulder, attempting to get it over the roof of their house. If their throw is straight, their tooth will be too. If their throw is crooked, or the tooth doesn’t make it all the way over their roof, the tooth will grow in crooked. A Nigerian version of this superstition also involved throwing the tooth. The child holds a number of stones in one hand, and the tooth in the other, shouting that they want their tooth back before throwing both handfuls in the air and running off as fast as they can.

There are also a number of legends and traditions which, like the Tooth Fairy, involve the child getting a reward for their missing tooth. One saw the child receiving a reward upon losing their sixth tooth, which was seen a sign of their growth. There is also a Scandinavian tradition known as tand-fe (tooth fee), in which a child is given a reward for losing their first tooth. This tradition appeared in ‘The Poetic Edda’, one of the most iconic accountings of Norse legends. One of the epic poems in the collection accounts that the god Freyr was gifted the realm of the elves – Álfheimras a tand-fe.

One story which is popularly attributed to the existence of the Tooth Fairy is a French tale, ‘La Bonne Petite Souris,’ or the good little mouse. The story tells of an evil king who went to war against a neighbouring kingdom.

The evil king killed the neighbouring good king, and took the man’s pregnant queen as a hostage, declaring that if the queen had a daughter, she would be married to his son. If the queen had a son, however, both the queen and her child would be killed. During her imprisonment, the queen befriended a mouse in her cell, sharing her meagre meals with it, and keeping the mouse from harm. This mouse was later revealed to be a fairy in a disguise. She saved the queen and the princess and punished the evil king – hiding beneath his pillow and stealing his teeth while he slept. The French equivalent to the Tooth Fairy is also a mouse, la petite souris, who – like the Tooth Fairy – brings a coin in exchange for a tooth.

Though the tradition will have begun earlier, The Tooth Fairy herself is said to appeared in print in 1908, as part of an article published by the Chicago Daily Tribune. Her fame grew, and became popularised due to a play produced nineteen years later, in 1927. The play, ‘The Tooth Fairy: Three-Act Playlet for Children’ featured the titular fairy flying through children’s windows and trading the tooth beneath their pillow for money.

Despite her popularity however, the Tooth Fairy does not really have one iconic image like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny do – a fat, bearded man in a red suit, and a giant, anthropomorphised rabbit, respectively. While the Tooth Fairy is known to be a ‘fairy’ she is depicted as many different fey creatures. Whether she is tall or small, winged or not, one person or a number of tooth collecting fairies is very much up to personal interpretation, and while the Tooth Fairy has now appeared in a number of films and books, these adaptions vary dramatically –

In the UK, February 28th is known as national Tooth Fairy Day, and is a time (likely suggested by dentists) to encourage children and their parents to think about good oral hygiene – in particular in relation to a child’s baby teeth.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it and would like to see more, please consider leaving us a tip on Ko-fi.

Origins: The Tooth Fairy (2024)


How do you answer the tooth fairy questions? ›

Follow Your Child's Lead

A great way to determine the answer is to respond, "Why do you ask?" or "What do you think?" If he or she seems ready for the truth, give it to them. However, if they want to hold on to the story a bit longer, simply say, "Well, I absolutely believe in the magic of the tooth fairy!"

How to answer is the tooth fairy real? ›

Be gentle with your response.

Explain to your children that the Tooth Fairy is a tradition that has been around for decades. If your children seem to be upset with your answer to the question is the Tooth Fairy real, make something positive out of it. Talk about your child's favorite memory of the Tooth Fairy.

What does the tooth fairy do with the teeth answer? ›

What the tooth fairy does with the teeth also varies. Some narratives say the tooth fairy will hold on to the teeth for their perceived value. Others say the fairy uses the teeth to make fairy dust or to continue building their castle.

What are the origins of the tooth fairy? ›

In medieval Europe, it was thought that if a witch were to get hold of one's teeth, it could lead to total power over them. Another modern incarnation of these traditions into an actual Tooth Fairy has been traced to a 1908 "Household Hints" item in the Chicago Daily Tribune: Tooth Fairy.

Is the Tooth Fairy real yes or no answer? ›

They point out that there is no scientific evidence to support the existence of the tooth fairy. Additionally, some parents admit to playing the role of the tooth fairy themselves, further fueling doubts about its reality.

How to trick the Tooth Fairy story? ›

Kaylee is a prankster who loves to trick her friends and even tries to trick Santa. Her biggest rival to be the princess of pranks is the tooth fairy. Kaylee tricks her too - only the tooth fairy tricks back. They get into a pranks battle that does not end well.

When should I tell my child the tooth fairy isn't real? ›

It can be difficult to determine an appropriate age to tell kids the truth about the tooth fairy. Children typically start to question whether the tooth fairy is real between the ages of 4 and 7. If a child is younger than 4, it might be wise to conceal the truth for a little while longer.

At what age should a child stop believing in the tooth fairy? ›

While the last baby teeth generally aren't lost until age ten or 11, most children stop believing in the tooth fairy by the time they're seven or eight. Of course, children are more than happy to play along with the game when there's money at stake!

What age do kids find out tooth fairy is not real? ›

Typically, children start questioning the Tooth Fairy between the ages of 7 and 9. By this time, they may have already heard whispers from their peers or noticed inconsistencies in the Tooth Fairy's visits. Use your parental judgment to determine if your child is ready for this revelation.

What do I write in the Tooth Fairy note? ›

You could personalise the Tooth Fairy letter with details about your child, such as mentioning the way they lost their tooth or the colour of their toothbrush. Remember, there are 20 teeth for each of your children to lose, so keep things manageable. You may not want to write a letter for every tooth.

How do you explain why the Tooth Fairy didn't come? ›

The dew was too heavy. Her wings got wet, and she couldn't fly. The Tooth Fairy was on vacation, and the substitute Tooth Fairy didn't know what she was doing. She couldn't get to your pillow due to your messy room.

What questions should I ask the Tooth Fairy? ›

Check out the most common questions she gets asked below!
  • Why do we lose our baby teeth?
  • Does everyone lose their baby teeth?
  • How many teeth will I lose?
  • How do we lose our baby teeth?
  • When will my tooth fall out?
  • Does it hurt to lose a tooth?
  • What does the Tooth Fairy do with all the teeth?

What to write in a note from Tooth Fairy for the first lost tooth? ›

I see you lost your very first tooth! You are growing up so fast. I was so excited to come to your house to see how big you're getting. Thank you for leaving a beautiful tooth for me to add to my collection.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Otha Schamberger

Last Updated:

Views: 6080

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (75 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Otha Schamberger

Birthday: 1999-08-15

Address: Suite 490 606 Hammes Ferry, Carterhaven, IL 62290

Phone: +8557035444877

Job: Forward IT Agent

Hobby: Fishing, Flying, Jewelry making, Digital arts, Sand art, Parkour, tabletop games

Introduction: My name is Otha Schamberger, I am a vast, good, healthy, cheerful, energetic, gorgeous, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.