We all remember the excitement of our first visit from the Tooth Fairy, waiting for that magical visit each time we lost a tooth.
And while the anticipation remains the same for each generation of children, the price tag associated with that visit has certainly reached new heights! In 1900, the going rate for a lost tooth was around 12 cents – MY, how times have changed...
Baby Boomers fondly recall getting a shiny new quarter for their teeth in the 1950s, which gave way to $1 in the 1980s. According to a VISA survey, the national average price tag for a lost baby tooth is $3.70 today...with many websites reporting the base price starts around $5 and ranges up to $20 per tooth! According to the same survey, only 3% of children find a dollar or less and 8% find a five dollar bill OR MORE under their pillow.
Although the price tag has certainly changed, the lore surrounding the Tooth Fairy has been around for centuries. The origins vary and each culture has put their own spin on the Tooth Fairy – with stories arising from Europe, Asia and the Americas. And while each offers slightly different takes on the tale, the rewards for a lost tooth remain a constant theme.
Documentation dates all the way back to the time of the Vikings, who paid children for their teeth. In the Norse culture, children's teeth and other articles belonging to children, were said to bring good luck in battle, and Scandinavian warriors hung CHILDREN'S TEETH on a string around their necks as they faced an opponent. Whereas, mothers during this period in England would BURN their children's baby teeth, to ensure no WITCHES found them – which would allow them to GAIN CONTROL OF THE CHILD!
During the height of the Middle Ages parents actually HID any teeth their children lost...believing if the tooth was found by any animal, the CHILD would GROW A NEW TOOTH like that animal! Due to the typical environment of these times, the most frequently-seen creatures were mice, which gave rise to widespread incarnations of a rodent-like "Tooth Fairy" character.
However, France took this to whole new level! Holding this belief, many parents actually HOPED a mouse would find the tooth – so their child's new teeth would be strong and sharp, like the rodent. So, in the 1800s, the French began receiving visits from – wait for it – the "Tooth MOUSE" who would leave gifts and coins for the lost tooth! WOW!!!
A Hispanic twist on this "rodent" theme takes the form of Ratoncito Pérez (or Ratón Pérez), similar to the Tooth Fairy, originating in Madrid in 1894. As is traditional in some English-speaking countries, customarily a child places their tooth under the pillow, so Ratoncito Pérez will exchange it for a gift. This tradition is almost universal in Spanish cultures, but takes on different forms in different areas. He is known as "Ratoncito Pérez" in Spanish-speaking countries...with the exception of some regions of Mexico, Peru and Chile, where he is called "el Ratón de los Dientes" (The Tooth Mouse). And in Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay and Colombia, he is known simply as "El Ratón Pérez." Colgate even used the Ratoncito Pérez in their marketing campaigns in both Venezuela and Spain.
In some Asian countries – such as India, China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam – when a child loses a tooth, if it came from the lower jaw, it's thrown onto the roof ...and if it came from the upper jaw, it gets placed into the space beneath the floor. While doing this, the child shouts a request for the tooth to be replaced with the tooth of a mouse. YEP...that rodent gets around!
This tradition is based on the fact that rodents' teeth continue to grow for their entire lives. In some cultures, from around the country of India, children bury their teeth in the soil near big trees. And in Japan, a different variation calls for lost upper teeth to be thrown straight down to the ground and lower teeth straight up into the air to ensure incoming teeth will grow straight.
In Middle Eastern countries (including Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Sudan), there is a tradition of throwing a baby tooth up into the sky to the sun or to Allah. This tradition may have begun in a pre-Islamic offering, and dates back to at least the 13th CENTURY! It is also mentioned by Izz bin Hibat Allah Al Hadid in the 13th Century.
Finally, we note there is even a conflict in the observance of National Tooth Fairy Day! Some place the observance on February 28, while others celebrate the day on August 22. So,regardless of when – or how – you celebrate, in honor of ONE #ToothFairyDay we observed earlier this month, Best Choice invites you to ALWAYS celebrate your child-like joy...and allow us ensure YOUR smile is always the BEST smile!