Many children and adults alike probably assume the tooth fairy is a global phenomenon similar to the celebrations at Christmas time involving St. Nick, Santa Clause or some variations in most of the world. However, the traditional tooth fairy as we know her is an American tradition that most experts believe resulted from a mix of other cultures’ tooth related traditions, and the Disney inspired fairies depicted in films like Cinderella and Pinocchio which were being released at the time of her creation. Here are some fun facts about tooth traditions around the world:
Some Hide, Some Throw
Not all cultures help their children place their baby teeth under their pillow at night to await a treat or monetary exchange. In some countries in the Middle Easter, Greece some areas of Mexico throw their baby teeth onto the roof. Asian countries often throw their teeth depending on which part of the mouth they fell out of. If the tooth came from the top jaw, they throw them to the ground to encourage their teeth to grow straight and strong in the right direction. If the tooth came from the bottom jaw, they throw them to the sky for the same reasons.
Hammaspeikko is the Finnish word for “tooth troll.” It was the title of a children’s book that introduced cavities and bacteria to children in 1949. Norwegian and Finnish children brush their teeth faithfully or risk the sugar smelling trolls drilling holes in their teeth.
The Tooth Fee
The big bad Vikings weren’t immune to superstitions and anything that could help them win their epic battles. They paid their children “tooth fees” for each lost tooth and wore the baby teeth on necklaces and other wearable items into battle as they believed the purity of children brought them luck and power.
In France, Belgium, Italy and some Spanish speaking regions, the tooth fairy is a cute little mouse. In French, he/she is “la bonne petite souris” (the good little mouse). This mythical creature originated in 17th century France based on a dark fairy tale, like many of its time. It was retold centuries later in a much more kid-friendly way in a book called The Tooth Mouse by Susan Hood.
This legendary rat has his own plaque in Madrid outside the warehouse he was believed to have lived in. He was featured in an Argentine movie, appeared in the story of the Vain Little Mouse and even has a cameo in Dreamworks’ Rise of the Guardians. Ratoncito Perez lived in a cookie box with his family and traveled through pipes all over the city into the bedrooms of children who had lost their teeth.
The importance of oral hygiene from a very early age seems to be a universal understanding. Dr. Danna recommends cleanings every six months to keep baby teeth and adult teeth alike, looking and feeling their best. Give our office a call at 972-267-6244 to schedule your next cleaning.