Fun Tooth Fairy Beliefs from Around the World
The average American child earns $3.70 per tooth from the tooth fairy. For nearly a third of children, the reward is a single US dollar but there is a small percentage who get in excess of $20 and they are the ones skewing the statistics.
US tooth fairy beliefs are mirrored by many other English speaking countries, but other cultures have completely different stories about this enamel collecting creature.
Known by names like Ratocinto Perez and Perez Mouth, the tooth fairy of many Spanish speaking countries is an industrious little mouse who scurries under pillows to collect teeth.
The mouse theme is common, even outside of the Spanish speaking world. Mice teeth are said to grow throughout their lives. They are worn down every couple of months and then grow anew, making them little miracles of the dental world and helping to spawn countless tooth fairy myths.
In France, Switzerland, and Belgium, children place their teeth under the pillow for La Petite Souris (“the little mouse”) to collect.
Thrown on the Roof
In Brazil, China, Greece, Korea, and several other countries, children throw their teeth onto the roof, believing that a bird will swoop by and pick them up. If it does, a new and healthy tooth will grow in its place.
This myth changes a little from country to country. Sometimes the bird changes to a squirrel and sometimes children only throw their top teeth onto the roof, choosing to discard their bottom teeth somewhere low, such as underneath the floorboards.
Elsewhere, children take their teeth outside and throw them towards the sun, aiming to get them as high as they can. The higher they go, the greater the chance that a new tooth will grow in its place. In Japan, they have similar beliefs for their top teeth, but choose to throw their bottom teeth on the ground.
Back to Nature
As noted above, the goal for many children is to have their teeth taken away, either by an animal or a fairy. In parts of Asia, however, the last thing children want is for their teeth to be taken away.
To avoid this, they bury their baby teeth as deep as they can go, hoping to hide them from animals and other enamel thieves. This, they believe, returns the tooth to nature and helps a new one to grow in its place.
A Career in Dentistry?
In many parts of Turkey, the parents are the ones to put their belief in the magical orthodontic arts. They believe that by burying their child’s teeth next to a hospital, they will grow up to be a doctor and by burying it on a soccer field they will grow up to play the beautiful game.
Glass of Water
In some countries, children place their teeth in a glass of water and leave it next to their bed for their version of the tooth fairy to collect. This is true both for cultures that believe in fairies and for those that believe in “teeth mice”.
In Norway and Sweden, for instance, they believe in a tooth fairy called Tannfe or Tandfe, who is so old and frail that her eyes no longer work properly, and she can’t find teeth when they are hidden under pillows. Children help her do her job by dropping their teeth into a clear glass of water.
We imagine this also makes life easier for the parents, which is undoubtedly why the practice originated in the first place. Rummaging under your child’s pillow without waking them can seem like an impossible task at times, but removing a glass of water from their bed, tipping it down the toilet and then replacing it, is considerably easier.
Taken out of context, the tooth fairy myth is pretty horrifying. It’s a small, winged creature that enters your child’s bedroom, creeps under their pillow, and steals their spent, bloody teeth, leaving money in exchange. They don’t question why they fairies need those teeth, where they come from, or why they’re not mangled by the pet cat/dog on entry. And why would they? It’s free money.
Of course, this story gets a lot creepier when you adopt a different perspective, and that’s something you need to keep in mind when you read about myths from other cultures. As crazy as they seem, just remember that we have a few bonkers beliefs of our own.-