August 22nd was National Tooth Fairy Day! This is a day to help us relive all the memories of how the Tooth Fairy used to swap out the teeth under our pillow for a dollar or two. The Tooth Fairy is a fun way that allows children to feel less scared of losing their teeth. If you have a child in your life, here’s a little backstory about how this popular tale came to be.
The Origins of the Tooth Fairy
When kids lose their baby teeth, they often expect a visit from a certain visitor — the Tooth Fairy. Do you know the origins of how this began? Forbes explains the origins of the Tooth Fairy to be of American origin and we didn’t know about the beginnings of this lovable creature until the 1990s.
The French Fairytale
In the 1990s, two folklorists discovered the origins of the Tooth Fairy. Many cultures, both ancient and modern, have ritualized ways of disposing of teeth. For example, Forbes explains, many of these rituals involve burning the tooth, burying it, or even swallowing it. However, the closest parallel to the American Tooth Fairy that we know and love is said to be from an 18th century French fairytale known as La Bonne Petite Souris. In this fairytale, a good queen is imprisoned by a villain king and requests the help of a mouse to get out of her predicament. In the end, the mouse turns out to be a fairy who frees the queen and knocks out the king’s teeth. The fairy then hides the teeth under the king’s pillow.
This story was re-released as an illustrated children’s book in the 1920s, but while this story only had small references to the Tooth Fairy, we didn’t see much of this visitor until after WWII.
The Turn of the Tale
In 1949, the Tooth Fairy was mentioned in the-popular magazine Collier. However, the first citation of this fairy didn’t come out until 1979. So, what happened in the middle of the 1900s to turn this small folkloric tale into a tradition that families nationwide participate in?
Forbes explains that there were three major changes in American society following the end of WWII that led to this fairytale figure to overtake homes. Those were:
- An increase in prosperity. During the war, people wouldn’t give their last amounts of change to a child who had lost a tooth.
- A child-centered view of the American family. It became normal at this time for families to cater towards their children.
- An increase in media. This is when popular childhood favorites like Tinkerbell and Cinderella were at the forefront of the media.
The Money Exchange
So, when did the Tooth Fairy begin to hand out money? Forbes explains that this began with reference to market economies. Parents wanted to begin to teach their children about monetization and the free market when they exchange a tooth for money.
The Importance of Baby Teeth
While the Tooth Fairy is a fun way to get children excited about losing teeth, caring for those teeth while they’re still in place is far more important. Baby teeth are important to your child’s oral health development. These teeth allow your children to begin chewing and speaking. However, another important job of these teeth is that they are space in the jaw for the permanent teeth growing in the gums.
Caring for Your Child’s Smile
The health of your child’s smile begins with you. While infants, you should gently cleanse their gums with a soft washcloth to prevent bacteria overgrowth. Once your child begins to have teeth erupt, you should begin brushing their teeth. Once they have two teeth touching, that’s when you should begin to floss.
Additionally, your child should make their first trip to the dentist as soon as they get their first tooth or turn one year old, whichever happens first. Your dentist will begin to offer you recommendations on how often to brush their teeth, how much toothpaste to use, when to begin fluoride, and more. You should help your child clean their teeth twice a day until they are old enough to try it on their own. However, they should then be supervised until you are certain they won’t swallow the toothpaste and are thoroughly cleaning their teeth and gums properly.
Make an Appointment with Young Family Dental
If it’s time for your child’s first appointment, stop by one of our Young Family Dental locations today. Conveniently located in Orem, American Fork, Saratoga Springs, Riverton, and West Jordan, we’re here for those tiny smiles!