girl who lost tooth - tooth fairy traditions

Tooth Fairy Tales and Traditions from Around the World

If you have little ones in your household, you know how exciting loose teeth can be in regards to the Tooth Fairy. Although this small tooth-collecting fairy is a beloved figure in the United States, not all countries share this popular tradition.

Many cultures around the globe celebrate a child’s lost tooth. If you took a trip around the world, observing lost baby teeth traditions, here’s what you’d see.

The “Tooth Fairy” Differs Around the Globe

For those growing up in Western culture, these children often relate to a tooth-centric, fantasy-filled character. We all know her as the Tooth Fairy.

Exchanging money for teeth, the going rate used to be a dime or quarter per tooth. Today, the average tooth payout is around $4.66 (or $5.72 for a first tooth). If you’re interested, you can also read all about the history of this beloved, mystical character here.

Related: The History of the Tooth Fairy

Today, we’re going to explore cultures outside of the United States — many of which offer their children a unique, interesting, end even educational experience.

South Africa

In South Africa, children do not believe in the Tooth Fairy per se. In a similar manner to American children, they exchange their lost teeth for money. However, instead of putting their baby teeth under their pillow, they leave their newly lost teeth in their slipper. That night, the Tooth Mouse comes. Some say this tooth-gathering mouse uses the teeth to build a castle.

Mongolia

Throughout Central Asia, including in Mongolia, children take an entirely different approach. Instead of wishing for money, they essentially “trade” their old tooth in a way that encourages a new, stronger tooth.

Most commonly, a tooth will be placed in fat and then fed to a dog, so that their new tooth is as strong a dog’s. For those children who do not own a dog, they often bury their lost baby teeth by a tree. Similarly, they believe that this practice will encourage a new tooth that has strong roots.

The Middle East

In countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, and Iraq, children throw their teeth in the air, aiming for the sun. In doing so, they are asking the sun (or Allah) to send them a stronger, healthy adult tooth. This tradition is believed to date back to a pre-Islamic offering, which dates back to at least the 13th century.

France

Similar to children in South Africa, those who reside in France, as well as Switzerland and Belgium, believe in La Petite Souris — or The Little Mouse. Much like the Tooth Fairy, this little mouse replaces the tooth found under a child’s pillow with money.

China

In China, traditions vary. In some cases, the lower teeth are placed on the roof while the upper teeth are buried in the ground. In a similar manner, some children place their teeth above and below the bed. Either way, they wish for the same thing — that their teeth will grow in straight.

Ukraine

In some countries, such as Ukraine, a lost baby does not result in a reward or gift. Instead, children wrap their newly lost tooth in a tissue and leave it in a dark corner of their house. It is left there until a new tooth grows to replace it. In contrast, children in Lithuania often keep their teeth in a keepsake box, or they use their teeth to make a necklace.

Jamaica

According to traditional Jamaican folklore, when a child loses a tooth, they run the risk of being abducted by the Rolling Calf. In order to scare away this evil spirit, children place their teeth in a tin can and shake it. Others follow a tradition that is similar to China, in that they throw their teeth on the roof. By chanting “Ratta Ratta, take my old tooth and bring me a new one” — this ensures that the child grows a healthy tooth in its place.

Bulgaria and Romania

Sharing similar traditions, children in Bulgaria and Romania both throw their teeth on the roof. In Romania, the children ask a crow to take away their “milk tooth” and replace it with a steel one. In Bulgaria, the children ask a crow to take away their “bone tooth” and replace it with an iron tooth. Simply put, they ask these birds to send them a strong tooth that will not cause them any issues.

Turkey

In Turkey, parents encourage their children to bury their lost teeth in a place that reflects their potential future. In fact, traditionally, they believe that their teeth hold their future within it. So, if a parent wants their child to be a doctor, they would bury their teeth near a hospital.

Understanding other traditions and cultures help to put things into perspective. Discuss these various practices with your children so that they can learn about other children around the globe, feeling grateful that they get money (or do not have to scare off spirits with a tin can).

More importantly, it is important to discuss the importance of optimal oral health with your children. That way, they develop healthy habits from the start. To encourage proper brushing, schedule an appointment at one of our seven dental office locations.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment