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
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
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.
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?
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!