The Origins of The Tooth Fairy

28 January,2018

The Origins of The Tooth Fairy

When children start to lose their teeth, one little trend that starts to come up is the tale of the tooth fairy. Whether the tooth is nestled under their pillow or placed in a small glass next to their bed, when the child awakes they are usually greeted by a gold coin (or for the very lucky children, a flashy note).

But where did this craze of collecting teeth for money come from?

Whilst the tooth fairy’s counterparts, like the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, can be traced back into history it wasn’t until around 1990 that the origins of the fairy came to light.

 The History of Losing Teeth

Of course, losing baby teeth is not a new phenomenon. It is a natural occurrence, making way for adult teeth. There are many cultures across the world, both modern and ancient, that have various ways of disposing teeth. Some of these rituals involve burying the tooth, burning the tooth and placing it inside of a wall.

The most likely tale linked to the tooth fairy, out of all the other historical links, is a French fairy tale called La Bonne Petite Souris. The story depicts a good queen who is held captive by a bad king. In her strife, the queen enlists the help of a mouse to help her out of her troubles. The mouse then presents itself as a fairy, who lets the queen free and knocks out the king’s teeth. After this, the fairy then hides the teeth under the pillow of the king.

Wells: The Tooth Fairy Consultant

Along came Rosemary Wells, a professor at Northwestern University Dental School, who started to research the true mystery behind our teeth collecting tradition. At the time her research started, the activity was already carried out by millions across the country and the western world.

After years of solid research, studies and tests, Wells drew the conclusion that the tooth fairy was born from two traditions in history: The offering of teeth to rodents (as seen in La Bonne Petite Souris), and the general wish for a ‘good fairy’ (like in the tale of Cinderella, amongst other fairy tales).

But why the tooth fairy was created remains a slight mystery. Wells believes that the purpose of the tooth fairy was to ease the minds of little children in a painful and confusing time. Whatever the reason, it is well and truly a staple in the dental world.