Celebrate Tooth Fairy Day: The History of the Tooth Fairy

When compared with the other central figures associated with children’s mythology in America, the origins of the Tooth Fairy are somewhat mysterious. You know that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were brought about via a combination of pagan and Christian traditions; however, for the most part, the origins of the Tooth Fairy are somewhat of a mystery.

Celebrate Tooth Fairy Day: The History of the Tooth Fairy

A Radio Series Leads to Increased Curiosity About the Tooth Fairy

In the 1970s, a Chicago radio disc jockey (DJ) by the name of Dick Orkin created a radio series entitled “The Secret Adventures of the Tooth Fairy.” These broadcasts ignited the curiosity of those listening and the American Dental Association (ADA) was flooded with calls requesting more information about this intriguing character; however, at that time, even the ADA was lacking information related to this mythical sprite.

Professor Rosemary Wells Begins an Investigation

At around the same time as Dick Orkin’s broadcasts, a professor at Northwestern University Dental School became intrigued with the Tooth Fairy. Professor Rosemary Wells wanted to know what prompted children to begin the practice of placing their lost baby teeth under their pillows. And why did they think these teeth would be replaced with money?  A decade after her research began, Professor Wells had become the world’s expert on the Tooth Fairy. She even opened a museum dedicated to this beloved dental sprite: Much of the information that is available today was gathered by Professor Wells.

How Old is the Tooth Fairy?

The first known print reference of the Tooth Fairy in America can be found in the Sept. 27, 1908, edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune. The author, Lillian Brown, discusses how a child will allow the removal of a loose tooth if he/she is informed about the Tooth Fairy.

The first print appearance of the Tooth Fairy occurred in 1927. This initial depiction was created for Esther Watkins Arnold’s book, “The Tooth Fairy: Three-act playlet for children” and the oldest verbal references can be traced back to the 20th Century. When compared to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy herself is just a mere babe.

Traditions From Around the Globe Influenced the American Tooth Fairy

The American Tooth Fairy is most-likely based on a combination of creatures from around the globe who are believed to carefully exchange cash for teeth as a child sleeps as well as on the typical, European fairy.

Traditions from around the world:

  • The 18th Century bedtime story, “La Bonne Petite Souris,” conveys the tale of a fairy who transforms herself into a mouse so she can help a queen conquer an evil king. The mouse hides under the king’s pillow and is eventually able to conquer him by knocking out his teeth.
  • In Italy, a tiny mouse named Topolino serves as the Tooth Fairy. In French-speaking Belgium and France, a mouse also serves as the Tooth Fairy, this mouse is referred to as ‘la petite souris’ (i.e., the little mouse).
  • Lowland Scotland’s tradition includes a white fairy rat who uses coins to purchase children’s teeth.

It is easy to see how some of these other traditions influenced America’s modern-day Tooth Fairy. Today, the Tooth Fairy can be found in children’s books, on television programs and in movies. Specialty pillows that have their own ‘tooth-holding pockets’ are now available. These pillows can be placed on the nightstand next to the bed or even hung on the doorknob. Each of these pillows is specifically designed to make swapping out a tooth for cash easier than ever before.

Finding a pediatric dentist that can provide kind, gentle dental care is essential. At Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida, we are dedicated to providing your child with personalized care to ensure he/she remains comfortable throughout treatment. If your child needs a dentist, contact us today by clicking here or calling one of our offices at 407.593.8900 (St. Cloud) or 407.628.2286 (Maitland). When you choose Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida, you know that your child will receive high-quality dental care from dedicated, experienced professionals.