Ask a Dentist

Q: Where does the Tooth Fairy come from?

Young girl sleeping on a bed covered in stars

A: Every culture has a tradition involving the disposal of children’s teeth after they fall out. In Canada and the United States of America, when children lose a tooth they put it under their pillows at night for the Tooth Fairy. 

According to an article in the Smithsonian Magazine, the Tooth Fairy began to gain popularity at the beginning of the 20th century. She is an amalgamation of traditions from other cultures and perpetuated by increased popularity in fairies. Pop culture and movies such as Pinocchio and Cinderella solidified the idea of benevolent, maternal fairies into the minds of families across North America.

Here’s one of the traditions that predates the Tooth Fairy. We think it’s a little odd, but it is actually the most widely practiced tradition in the world (from Russia to New Zealand to Mexico) regarding children losing their teeth. In many of those cultures, the practice is to leave the tooth out for a mouse or rat to collect it. Rodents’ teeth are especially strong and sturdy, so the belief was that they’d help the child’s adult teeth to grow in the same fashion.

Combining leaving the teeth out for someone or something to take, mix in benevolent fairies, and the Tooth Fairy comes into existence.

Children begin to lose their baby teeth between the ages of 5 and 7. They lose a total of 20 teeth, in case you want to do the math on how much the Tooth Fairy has to pay over the years. 

The loss of a tooth is a great moment for parents to reinforce good oral hygiene and dental care practices. We understand that the Tooth Fairy sometimes leaves notes encouraging children to floss and brush regularly.  

If you’re looking for a dentist for your family, book an appointment at either of our Winnipeg clinics. We’re located in Garden City Shopping Centre and St. Vital Centre for your convenience.