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There comes a point in time when your child asks you the inevitable question; “Is Santa Clause real?” you are never really prepared with a proper answer. No sooner have you cooked up one than when they hit you with a follow-up question; “And is the Tooth Fairy real?” Again, you will most likely go with what your gut tells you. After all, no one wants to disappoint their child. But what if she was real? Let us delve a bit into history and find out.
UPDATED 25 -01 – 18
No doubt, the tooth fairy is a cornerstone figure of childhood. However, she is not just limited to the American culture. She has existed across multiple religions and cultures in a lot of Anglo-based societies. But as with many myths, she has evolved over time to be what we know her today. There are many folklores dating back centuries in regard to losing baby teeth.
The Tooth Truth
Ancient Scandinavian and European customs suggested that when a child lost their tooth, it was buried to ensure good fortunes in their next life. Vikings were known to go to battle while adorning children’s teeth because they believed that they brought them good luck. Modern Europe has also seen the birth of the fairy from popular folktales. Nevertheless, the most well-known image of a tooth deity is that of the mouse. This folklore is spread across Europe and Asia.
In more recent history, in Northern European cultures, a child received a gift when their 6th tooth fell off. The 17th Century saw the birth of a tooth deity in France known as La Petite Souris who was represented by the image of a mouse or rabbit. Latin America has their tooth deity known as Ratoncito Perez. Ratoncito is kind of what the fairy is in the U.S. He has appeared in children’s shows and even endorses children’s dental products.
Most cultures have their tooth deity as a mouse. The reason is that rodents’ teeth never stop growing in their entire lives and thus the superstition grew that believing in this deity would translate to good fortunes for the child who just toothed. Legends vary from society to society with their deities being beavers, squirrels and even dogs.
The Modern Fairy
Unlike other urban legends such as the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy has not been constricted to one particular look. She can be any shape or form and this only adds to her charm. The American Fairy was birthed in the early 20th Century. She was inspired by a Disney character that gained popularity among many households.
Today, she serves a very critical role in helping children to develop strong and healthy permanent teeth. Kids are particularly mean towards each other. A child suffering from teeth defects is likely bullied by their peers. Thus a beautiful smile boosts your child’s confidence and is less likely to suffer from social anxiety. This legend has become one of the leading campaigners in the fight against one of the most common childhood disease; pediatric dental disease.
Pediatric Dental Disease
Dental and health professionals such as Kinder Smiles have been working relentlessly to cure dental ailments in unfortunate children. Despite their dedication, millions of children continue to suffer from a pediatric dental disease. Children suffering from this disease have difficulties in eating, sleeping and speaking effectively. This affects their ability to focus in school, socialize and nurture the skills necessary to become prosperous adults. Pediatric dental disease progresses as the child grows. Eventually, it leads to sustained pains, loss of teeth and secondary infections that are life threatening. When they finally receive dental attention, it is very costly. For a disease that is very preventable, children should not be suffering from it.
Kinder Smiles are children’s dentists who encourage parents to seize the Tooth Fairy’s ‘visit’ as an opportunity to discuss good oral hygiene. This should be done before the child loses the tooth. If you have a child that is preparing for this visit, you can start by informing them about the fairy. Next, tell them that the Fairy appreciates hygienic oral habits and that healthy teeth please her very much. If the child does not want to brush or floss remind them that the fairy is only interested in healthy baby teeth. This should motivate the kid.
During the visit to the children’s dentist, leave a personal note from the fairy to the kid. The note should commend the child on a job well done. It should also include tips on better oral health practices that she wants the child to perform. This should get the child very excited because the fairy took the time to write to them.
Here’s the Kicker
Instead of the same old gift of cash, also ensure that the Fairy leaves oral health presents. A children-themed toothbrush, toothpaste or even a book on the adventures of the Fairy. Also, include the cash so that the child can believe it.
When the time comes and they really want to know whether the fairy really is real, consider the following options:
• Reflect on what answer they really want to hear
Maybe your child just needs reassurance that the Fairy really does exist. Consider their age, if they are still in pre-school, it may be better to go along with it and say that you do believe.
• Be tender
If you are certain that your child knows the truth, gently explain to them that it is a tradition that is passed on from parents to children. Explain to them the purpose that it served and how you would love it if they passed it on to their kids. Tell them that you do that because you love to see them happy.
A Children’s dentist today may use the Tooth Fairy to promote proper dental hygiene. Parents are encouraged to propagate this myth with the idea that a healthier tooth receives a bigger present. The legend has existed for centuries and should continue existing because it makes oral hygiene easier for children; which is a good thing.
KinderSmiles Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics
400 Kinderkamack Rd
Oradell, NJ 07649
A [Complete] History of the Tooth Fairy
Dr Engel holds a speciality license in pediatric dentistry from New Jersey and New York. He also has attained sedation certification, which allows for in-office oral sedation options, and he’s on staff at Hackensack University Medical Center. As an attending pediatric dentist at HUMC, Dr Engel retains operating room privileges, allowing for an array of treatment modalities and anaesthesia options.