5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Tooth Fairy
Santa Claus, the Easter Bunner, and the Tooth Fairy make up the trifecta of North American children’s mythological entities that steal their way into our homes at night as benevolent home invaders. Of the trio, the Tooth Fairy is the most elusive.
Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny’s origins are well documented (a combination of Christian and pagan traditions), but the Tooth Fairy’s origins are shrouded in a bit of a mystery.
There are some questions about the Tooth Fairy that we may never have answered, like how did the Tooth Fairy get into the business of collecting teeth? What does she do with all of those teeth? How is she related to the Fairy Godmother?
Due to the many pediatric dental offices associated with the Tooth Fairy brand, I always assumed she worked during the day in a dental lab developing more effective implants and crowns and possibly experimenting with less painful oral surgery techniques.
There are some fascinating theories about the early life of the Tooth Fairy. They may or may not be true. The studies are inconclusive and as of this writing, we haven’t been able to pin her down for a statement.
In this article, we present our findings of the five most fascinating “facts” about the tooth fairy.
The First Tooth Fairy Is Probably Related to a Spanish-speaking Rodent
Nearly every recorded culture in history has some kind of tradition involving the disposal of baby teeth. In the 1960s a researcher named B.R. Townend distilled these rituals into nine basic forms:
(1) the tooth was thrown into the sun (2) thrown into the fire (3) thrown between the legs (4) thrown onto or over the roof of the house, often with an invocation to some animal or individual (5) placed in a mouse hole near the stove or hearth or offered to some other animal (6) buried (7) hidden where animals could not get it (8) placed in a tree or on a wall (9) swallowed by the mother, child or animal Of these ritual forms it seems as if the tooth fairy and her penchant for finding teeth under pillows, is most likely a direct descendant of Ratoncito Pérez (Pérez the Mouse), a folk character from Spanish and Hispanic American culture that may have evolved from the tradition of placing the tooth near a mousehole.
The Tooth Fairy is Younger Than We Initially Thought
Despite her seemingly timelessness like other magical fairies, and influenced by superstitions of the Middle Ages, the tooth fairy is a recent arrival on the mythological scene. The earliest recorded reference to the modern Tooth Fairy is found in a short eight-page children’s play published in 1927 simply called The Tooth Fairy.
The Tooth Fairy is One of the Wealthiest Fictional Characters of All Time
The Tooth Fairy has amassed a huge fortune (most likely from sound investments and donations), is a member of the world’s wealthiest 1%. According Forbes, the tooth fairy has an estimated net worth of $3.9 billion. Unlike most fictional billionaires (I’m looking at you Scrooge McDuck and Richie Rich!), the Tooth Fairy is distinguished and revered for her eminent altruism.
The Tooth Fairy is Multi-Cultural
In addition to the aforementioned Ratoncito Pérez (visit the Ratoncito Pérez museum in Madrid), he manifests himself in South America as El Raton de Los Dientes and in France as La Bonne Petite Souris.
Versions of lost baby teeth rituals are observed in many other cultures around the world. In South Africa, teeth are placed in slippers, in some Asian cultures they are tossed around, and tossed to the sky in some Middle Eastern countries. In Mongolia, they feed them to dogs!
You Can Have a Career in Tooth Fairy Studies
Tooth Fairy authority Professor Rosemary Wells of Deerfield, Illinois has spent her academic life studying the legend of the Tooth Fairy, and has even appeared on the “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, where most respected experts usually appeared at some point in their careers.
Wells even opened her own museum in Deerfield, where she conducts lectures on the subject. Wells seems to have acquired some special knowledge of the Fairy and even speculates about the gender of the specter. "I will never tell anybody what the Tooth Fairy should look like, or whether it should be male or female," she said.
Breaking down gender stereotypes, Wells’ studies have influenced two recent film versions featuring male incarnations of the beloved Tooth Fairy.