National Tooth Fairy Day reminds kids, young and old, to relive the excitement and wonder of baby teeth.
The tradition of receiving gifts for lost teeth can be traced back to the Eddas, a collection of medieval writings about Norse and Northern European traditions. Since teeth were a symbol of good luck and prosperity, some Viking warriors would wear a necklace of teeth into battle, and children would receive a small ‘tand fe’ (tooth fee) from their parents when they lost their first tooth.
The 18th-century French fairytale La Bonne Petite Souris (The Little Good Mouse) tells the story of an unjustly imprisoned queen who seeks the help of a trusted mouse. A fairy in disguise, the mouse knocks out the king’s teeth, hides them under a pillow, and proceeds to have the king assassinated. Released as an illustrated children’s book, the story spread throughout the English-speaking world after World War II.
The first American reference to the Tooth Fairy appeared in a 1908 Chicago Tribune article where author Lillian Brown suggested leaving 5 cents under the pillow to encourage children to have their loose milk teeth pulled. After Esther Watkins Arnold wrote a popular children’s play titled The Tooth Fairy in 1927, thoughts of a tooth fairy collecting teeth in exchange for money or gifts stirred imaginations around the country.
Rates have come a long way since the initial 5 cent per tooth recommendation. According to a recent survey by Dental Care Alliance, the average 2022 tooth fairy payment in the United States is $4.57 per tooth. Georgia takes 9th place in state rankings with parents paying an average of $5.81 per tooth!
Today the tooth fairy has become a global phenomenon, paying visits to children in the U.K., Canada, Australia, and beyond.