Rituals surrounding the loss of baby teeth go way back. Vikings may have paid their children for lost teeth, then worn the teeth on necklaces to provide good luck during battle. In the middle ages, folks may have believed that baby teeth could be cursed by witches. These parents would have disposed of lost baby teeth as quickly as possible, sometimes leaving the tooth for rats to eat. Rodents were apparently thought to be strong, which somehow might lead to healthy adult teeth in human children.
The concept of the tooth fairy may have further developed with a 1697 French fairy tale about a mouse hiding under an evil king’s pillow and knocking out teeth. Another Spanish story from 1894 also links the concept of reward for lost teeth.
Today’s tooth fairy, according to a 2013 Visa survey, leaves an average of $3.70 per tooth —under pillows, inside elaborate sterling silver tooth fairy boxes and in all sorts of other cute, tooth-fairy themed containers.
What does the tooth fairy leave in your house? Under the pillow? Hidden elsewhere? We’d love to know.