History of the Tooth Fairy

March 15, 2022

tooth fairy holding toothShe visited most of us as children and continues to be a part of our lives as parents. The Tooth Fairy may seem like a character that has been intertwined in history since the beginning of time, but surprisingly, the modern version of herself is quite recent. Where did she come from and why do we continue to allow her into our homes? Interesting you ask . . .



A Frightening Beginning

Children today look forward to a visit from the Tooth Fairy while they sleep because it means some fun money when they awake. This joyful welcoming of a fairytale create wasn’t always such a happy situation. In fact, according to Irish folklore, the ‘Tooth Fairy’ was actually a magical being that kidnapped sleeping children and left a fairy in their place. It was said that if you buried baby teeth, your children would be safe. Talk about creepy!

As recently as the 19th Century in France, children would set gifts outside of their doors for this being after they lost a tooth – others would actually set fire to their baby teeth. It was said that these rituals would give them a peaceful transition to the afterlife.

It is strange to think that baby teeth have had such a price or value put on them for centuries, whether that meant appeasing a creepy magical fairy or getting a few coins after you lost a tooth. Even in Viking culture, Vikings would carry baby teeth in their pockets into battle to give them strength and luck.

A Better Fairy Experience

Fortunately, our Tooth Fairy seems to be a little less unsettling. How did she transition from a kidnapping spirit to a magical fairy that leaves coins under the pillows of young children? In 1697, a play entitled ‘La Bonne Petite Souris,’ (or Good Little Mouse), depicted a mouse that would leave coins under the pillows of children in exchange for teeth. Where the author got the idea for this play is unknown – but the parallels between this play and the modern Tooth Fairy tale are evident.

In the 1800s, many Spanish-speaking countries adopted this play into children’s stories and in the 1920s the mouse-turned-‘fairy’ was translated into English.

Once Disney got a hold of the story, the modern version of the Tooth Fairy began to take off. First seen as the ‘Fairy Godmother’ in Cinderella, her character evolved over the last century into what is now a popular tradition in many households around the world.

Timeline of the Tooth Fairy

  • 1920’s: “La Bonne Petite Souris” gets released in English.
  • 1949: A story about the Tooth Fairy is published in Collier’s.
  • 1950’s: American families begin to develop a child-centric view of home life.
  • 1950: Disney’s Cinderella introduces The Fairy Godmother who becomes wildly popular.
  • 1953: Another fairy favorite Tinkerbell makes her debut in Disney’s Peter Pan.
  • 1979: The Tooth Fairy is now an integral part of kids’ childhoods and is cited in The World Book Encyclopedia.

Inflation Hits the Magic Kingdom

If you are a parent, you may want to up the amount you are leaving for your kids after they lose a baby tooth. Sadly, a quarter just won’t do these days. While the decision is up to each parent, due to inflation the going rate per tooth is now just over $4.03!

Don’t worry, though! The Tooth Fairy does not work directly with our team at Central Park Modern Dentistry, so when your child asks how much they should be getting – well, let’s just say we can keep a secret.

If your child has been losing baby teeth, it may be time to schedule an appointment to plan for any dental issues that could arise with their adult teeth. We look forward to caring for your children and their magical smiles!