Attention All Tooth Fairies!

Until around age seven, most children believe that magic and fantasy are plausible realities. As a result, generations of parents have used mythical characters and the stories behind them to guide their children’s behavior. To reward their children for being well behaved, parents use positive characters like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. All of those friendly characters exist in the context of celebration, but the Tooth Fairy is unique.

The Tooth Fairy exists solely to celebrate the loss of a child’s baby teeth. Through ceremony and reward, the Tooth Fairy fantasy creates a sense of excitement and wellbeing, to comfort children who may be anxious or fearful of this natural transition.

Few people know that the Tooth Fairy tradition extends as far back as the Vikings in the Middle Ages. Fast-forward to the 17th century and we have a French fairy tale called “Good Little Mouse” by Madame d’Aulnoy. She imagined a “tooth mouse” who changes into a fairy and defeats an evil king by knocking his teeth out and hiding them under a pillow. In 1894, Spanish author Luis Coloma created “Perez the Mouse,” to honor the boy king Alfonso XIII who had lost a tooth at age 8. The tradition of the “Ratón Pérez” persists to this day in most Latin countries.

The fairy that we here in the U.S. know and love originated in the 1927 play “The Tooth Fairy” by Esther Watkins Arnold, and later, in a book by Lee Rowgow in 1949. The origins of the tradition of “cash for canines” are less well known.

    If you’re planning for that all important first tooth, you should know:

  • In 2019, cost per tooth was $3.70. The all-time high was $4.66 in 2017.
  • Your child has 20 baby teeth. Multiple kids? You do the math.
  • All 20 will fall out between ages 6 and 12 years old. Plan accordingly.
  • Keep a stash of crisp, small denomination bills. Venmo won’t save you.
    Oh, you can forget the fairy dust. Here are the Top 5 excuses for forgetful and/or sleep-deprived Tooth Fairies:

  • Your room was probably too messy.
  • She probably couldn’t fly in the bad (weather of your choice) last night.
  • She probably went to Mom-Mom’s house by accident.
  • Her schedule was probably full. She’ll stop by tonight.
  • Oooops!

Childhood is a brief and precious time. One of the greatest joys of parenting is to immerse ourselves in our children’s world of imagination and make believe as we guide them ultimately toward a safe and healthy adulthood. Have some fun with it!

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