Tooth Fairy Trivia

Whether you count yourself a proponent, or opponent of the customary childhood tradition, have you ever wondered where the Tooth Fairy myth originally came from? And how inflation is linked to it? Why you could, or maybe shouldn’t, participate in celebrating a fictitious character that made it to Hollywood as recently as 2012?

Historically, Vikings valued their children’s baby teeth as good luck charms for battle and were willing to pay for them. Then they strung them together on necklaces they wore when they had to fight. In medieval ages teeth were considered equal parts promise or scare, depending on who got a hold of them. If the child disposed of them properly, by burial or burning, it was believed they would go on to a carefree future. Fallen into the hands of a  ‘witch’, it was believed they could grant access to the whole person, and therefore could be used to put on a curse.

From a more practical aspect, we tend to lean to the Vikings. No longer do we string teeth around our neck, but we do want our children to get a sense of achievement: Either that of growing up, or being brave by overcoming the pain that sometimes accompanies losing a tooth. Or maybe the reward under the pillow is meant to compensate for that awkward First Grade period with too few teeth altogether. Biting without any front teeth really is bothersome…

In any case, some people do take this custom seriously. So much so, that Huffington Post published an article last year with the following title: Tooth Fairy Inflation: Price of a tooth nears $ 4.

[…] Kids this year are getting an average of $3.70 per lost tooth, a 23 percent jump over last year’s rate of $3. And that’s a 42 percent spike from the $2.60 per tooth that the Tooth Fairy gave in 2011, according to a new survey […]

Sounds like financial analysis on a market trend like any other. And, following the line of reasoning of the article,  much of it driven by peer pressure: That of the parents’ peers, not the children’s.

We propose: If you want to maintain the tooth fairy myth for your child, for a season, do so for the benefit of your child. Maybe they need the extra encouragement. But don’t be pressured into social comparison over an issue some of your children’s friends might easily discard altogether.

After all, tooth brushes are imperative for everyone, but tooth fairies are optional.


Dr. Mead is an educator in the dental field, as well as an experienced family dentist with his practice located in Purcell, Oklahoma.
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