Every year, the American Dental Association helps raise awareness about the importance of oral health for children by sponsoring National Children’s Dental Health Month. One of the most beloved mascots known to children everywhere is the tooth fairy. She is very well traveled and takes part in quite a few unique traditions that kids from other countries find magical.
In Asia, if a child loses a lower tooth, they throw it right on the roof of their house and if the tooth came from the upper jaw, they put it in a space beneath the floor. While they are letting go of the tooth, they shout out that they want their tooth to be replaced with a tooth from a mouse. Mice grow teeth their whole lives, so they are a symbol of good strong teeth.
Japanese children throw the tooth straight up or straight down and make a wish that their new tooth will come in straight too.
Long ago, European children often threw their teeth into a fire or buried them because they didn’t want a witch to get a hold of them. If she did, the witch could have magical powers over the child. Sometimes they would just bury teeth in the ground to and hope that a healthy tooth grew in just like a healthy plant develops.
Some Middle Eastern children also throw their teeth up into the sky as an offering to the sun and request a better replacement. Indian children wrap their tooth up in a cloth before giving it to the sun.
Spanish, Scottish and French history shows the tooth fairy changing into a tiny white mouse similar to the Asian tradition. She replaces baby teeth with coins just like in America or might even leave some candy.
Brazilian kids throw their teeth outdoors so that birds will carry it away and leave a treasure. Dirty teeth are not accepted, so children are extra careful to brush and floss well.
Australian and Argentinian children put their shed teeth in a glass of water
Ireland, Great Britain and the United States all see the tooth fairy in her traditional glittery gown and wings, flying from home to home and finding little teeth hidden under children’s pillows.
No matter what your family tradition is, the tooth fairy likes to play dress up and pretend with you. She is a symbol of growth, change and childlike wonder. Although baby teeth don’t last forever, they serve a very important function and need to be taken care of. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, regular visits to the dentist should start at age one. For more information about making brushing and flossing fun, check out our blog post about brushing and flossing apps.