Many Americans grew up getting money, typically a few bucks for every baby tooth they lost. Maybe you’re in the same boat right now with your own children. Where did this concept of giving swapping out a child’s tooth for a few dollars?
Child Tooth Loss Customs From the Past
Throughout history and cultures, there have been different tooth disposal traditions. In some cultures, the baby teeth were burned or swallowed. In some countries, a child’s tooth symbolized success in battle and were worn around the necks of warriors. During the Middle Ages, or Medieval Ages, the child’s tooth was often buried in a hole in the ground in order to avoid giving any indications to a witch that a child lived in the home. For a long time in Europe, it was tradition to give a child either money or a small gift when he or she lost their sixth tooth.
The idea of a fairy and leaving the tooth under a pillow came from a popular French child’s book from the 1800s. In the book a queen is imprisoned by an evil king. She eventually escapes with the help of a mouse who turns out to also be a fairy. For revenge, the mouse fairy knocks out the king’s tooth and hides it under his pillow.
The American tooth fairy that we know today didn’t make an appearance until the early 1950s. During this era Americans generally had more wealth and children were very important. As a result, a money-giving tooth fairy emerged. Like her fictional counterparts, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, the hype of the media also helped jumpstart her notoriety. However, her fame wasn’t widely well-known or popular until the late 1970s.
There are many factors that have come into play regarding the Tooth Fairy’s “rate.” The biggest factor is the amount the child’s family can afford to spare. Another factor was how much the child’s peers received. As time has gone on, the rate of inflation, living costs and the value of the dollar has increased. Today, the estimated tooth fairy rate is around $3.25.
The Tooth Fairy phenomenon has now become worldwide to include countries like England, Canada, Ireland and Australia.
The Shedding of Baby Teeth
Children begin losing their primary, or baby teeth around the age of six. The teeth fall out in the same order in which they grew in, with the front, center incisors falling out first and the molars falling out last. These last teeth to be lost occur around the age of 12. A third set of molars, more commonly called wisdom teeth often don’t erupt until the late teenage years. These teeth don’t fall out on their own, but are surgically removed by the dentist. Not every patient needs their wisdom teeth pulled.
Most parents make the mistake of not caring for their child’s teeth as well as needed because of the inevitable shedding of baby teeth. While these teeth will eventually fall out, it is still important to take good care of them. Baby teeth that become decayed or fall out prematurely can have negative repercussions on the permanent, adult teeth growing in underneath as well as throwing off the correct positioning and growth of neighboring teeth.
Though most children quickly figure it out that it’s not the Tooth Fairy giving them money for their teeth, they are still appreciative of the couple bucks. If you have any concern about the development of your child’s baby teeth, it’s recommended that you schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist.