My son lost his first tooth last week. He just turned 4-years-old. While playing hide-and-seek with his buddies, he slipped and hit his mouth on our carpeted staircase. There was a lot of blood. When I took him to the dentist, I had a sinking feeling that his front tooth might not make it. Unfortunately, I was right. So, this meant that I had to figure out this whole Tooth Fairy thing a whole lot sooner than I expected. For those who have been reading my blog for awhile, you know I’m an uber-planner. I don’t do well with last minute events. Thankfully, my son wanted to keep his tooth around for a few days to look at it. This bought me time to research Tooth Fairy traditions from around the world. Contains affiliate links.

The Tooth Fairy in the United States of America

Tooth Fairy traditions in the USA involve the Tooth Fairy collecting teeth and leaving money for children.
This is a good depiction of what many Americans think the Tooth Fairy looks like.

As most of you know, when kids lose teeth in the U.S., it’s customary to put the tooth under their pillow before bed. Or some people have special “Tooth Pillows” that have a pocket for the tooth, like this one.

Then, kids eagerly wake up the next morning to see what she left them.

Traditionally, the Tooth Fairy is female. She usually resembles Tinkerbell from Peter Pan. However, in movies like Tooth Fairy starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and The Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy is a burly guy.

American Tooth Fairy traditions are all about cash money! I remember when I lost a tooth, the Tooth Fairy left me a quarter hanging from fishing line in the ceiling so it looked like it was floating! It was quite memorable.

Some of my friends spray dollar bills with glitter to create special money that the Tooth Fairy leaves their children.

Raton Perez in Spanish Speaking Countries

El Ratón Pérez is a Spanish tooth fairy who collects teeth from children.
There’s even a 2006 movie called El Ratón Pérez that tells the story of the hairy tooth fairy.

Have you ever heard of a Tooth RAT aka El Raton de Los Dientes?

In Hispanic counties including Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Colombia, Raton Perez is a rat who collects baby teeth from children. In return, Perez leaves gifts (although it’s not always money).

One of the coolest stories I found about this is that sometimes in Argentina, the kids leave the baby tooth in a glass of water. When Perez arrives, he drinks the water, takes the baby tooth and leaves the gift in the glass for the child.

He’s very popular and there was an animated film detailing his story called El Ratón Pérez. Has that piqued your curiosity? Apparently, there’s a Ratoncito Pérez Museum in Madrid that may answer all your questions.

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Tooth Mouse in Europe

In French-speaking countries, the rat becomes a little mouse called La Petite Souri. She’s featured in many children’s books.

In Italy, they have a small mouse called Topolino. And in Scotland, they celebrate a white fairy mouse who purchases children’s teeth with coins.

Alternative Tooth Fairy Traditions

Not all cultures celebrate a Tooth Fairy or Tooth Mouse.

In parts of Asia and India, children throw teeth from their bottom jar on the roof and teeth from their upper jaw on the floor. The thinking is that the new teeth will grow in the direction of the tossed teeth.

And children try to throw in straight lines to ensure straight teeth.

In the Middle East, children throw their teeth toward the sun in hopes that the sunlight will help the new teeth grow in faster. In Nepal, children bury their teeth in secret spots.

And in Malaysia, kids bury their baby teeth in the ground as a way to return them to nature.

The most interesting tradition I’ve heard about takes place in Turkey. Parents there try to influence their offspring’s future career choices by burying teeth near important places.

So, burying a tooth near a hospital might help a child grow up to be a doctor. Or near a school might encourage the kid to pursue education. But the most popular place? Soccer fields!

What Does OUR Tooth Fairy Do?

My 4-year-old lost his tooth and the tooth fairy brought him LEGO minifigures. It's one of our Tooth Fairy traditions.
Even though he lost his tooth a bit prematurely, my son is very proud of his gap!

Because I didn’t feel ready to have a full Tooth Fairy tradition in place, I told my son that things are extra special for first teeth.

I figure we probably have 2-4 years (fingers crossed) before he loses any other teeth and didn’t want to set anything in stone.

For this first tooth, we decided that our Tooth Fairy will leave some LEGO Batman minifigures. This makes sense for our family because my son watched this movie as his tooth was extracted. It’s also one of his favorite movies. So, these toys tie into his lost tooth experience.

What Tooth Fairy traditions does your family do? Comment below!

Tooth Fairy Traditions from the U.S.A, Europe and Asia

Author

Marcie writes the family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. When she's not traveling the world, she's home in Seattle with her husband and two little boys.

32 Comments

  1. Thankfully, my kids were suspicious of everything and asked so many questions that things like the Tooth Fairy, Santa, and the Easter Bunny, never stood a chance. We just gave them high-fives and told them they looked silly! That was all they needed.

  2. Italy here, and yes, we have the Topolino dei denti, which is a tiny mouse and I never put my teeth under the pillow always on my bedside table. This was so cute to read 😀

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh how cool! I can’t believe I didn’t know about Topolino dei denti until this week!

  3. This was so cool to read! Thanks for sharing. Tooth Mice sounds so weird to me lol!!! But the burying teeth for a push in the right career direction is a little sillier to me somehow lol 🙂

  4. When my kids lost teeth, they would normally put it under their pillows and the tooth fairy would come with either money or toys. It made the kids very excited to lose teeth and trips to the dentist a little bit easier haha.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Yes, I think any way of getting kids excited to keep their teeth clean and be okay with the tooth-losing concept is a winner!

  5. I have Two Under Two so I haven’t reached that stage yet but I’m so excited for it. I’ll probably stick to the traditional Tooth Fairy.

    • marciecheung Reply

      You will have an exciting few years of Tooth Fairy flurries!

  6. This was so cute! I had no idea about these traditions in other parts of the world. My kiddos are still a little young but I like the idea of leaving little toys instead of money.

    • marciecheung Reply

      We also tend to do toys instead of candy for Halloween. But, my kids enjoy sweets, too!

  7. I love the different traditions you shared. Growing up, I put my tooth in a special pillow my mom made me. The tooth fairy didn’t take the tooth, but did leave a dollar. With inflation, I wonder what our kids will expect.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Not taking the tooth is also an interesting concept. Did you take the tooth out of the pillow? Or did you collect them in the pillow?

      • The teeth stayed in the pillow pocket through the years. It was cool when I was little, but as I got older the teeth were pretty gross 🙂

        • marciecheung Reply

          Oh how interesting! I’ve been seeing those pillows with monster faces and parents attach the teeth to the monster’s mouth. Now, THAT is pretty gross!

  8. This is so interesting. While I do love our version of the tooth fairy in the US, I also like the idea of the tooth mouse. So cute!

    • marciecheung Reply

      Isn’t it a fun idea? I’d never heard of it before but it’s super popular!

    • marciecheung Reply

      I hadn’t either until my son had a lot of specific questions!

  9. Wow, so interesting and nice to learn what traditions go on around the world! Luckily we haven’t had anyone lose their teeth yet, but I don’t want to be caught off guard like you did! I think my kids feel like the tooth fairy is another version of Santa where they get presents. I may just stick to glitter money or something because getting toys can be a pain. Great read regardless and thank you again for better preparing me!

    • marciecheung Reply

      I was totally caught off guard! I figured I would have a couple of years to come up with a good strategy. My son already had a classmate ask him if he got money for his tooth.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Haha! That will definitely be our Tooth Fairy in a few years 🙂

  10. My middle daughter lost her first tooth by bumping her face too. Tooth fairy is stressful for me because my girls leave the tooth fairy notes asking them all kinds of questions. This means I have to creep in quietly grab the note and leave the money , write the fairies response and go back in again without waking them up. I think I’ve forgotten the tooth fairy at least once for every child and then had to write an elaborate note with an excuse.

    • marciecheung Reply

      Oh wow! I hadn’t even thought about notes! My son had a lot of questions for the Tooth Fairy and I told him I’d ask her. Then I reported back the next morning with her answers 🙂

  11. I had no idea that there were other traditions when it came to the tooth fairy! This was a great read 🙂

    • marciecheung Reply

      I didn’t either! That’s what piqued my curiosity!

  12. How nice to read about all the different tooth fairy traditions around the world! Our tooth fairy leaves $1, usually in coins. When I was a kid, I also got a quarter, like you. I figure the tooth fairy’s payout has increased due to inflation and cost of living here in Seattle. 😉

    • marciecheung Reply

      Haha! Yes, Seattle is quite an expensive city to live in! I’m thinking our Tooth Fairy will probably also leave $1.

  13. My son had to get his first tooth pulled. We did the whole tooth fairy thing and he loved it. It almost made of the the fact the tooth had to be pulled.

    • marciecheung Reply

      YES! It’s been the silver lining of this situation!

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