National Tooth Fairy Day is February 28th! Healthy baby teeth are so important for a young child’s health and development – they aid young children’s digestion, speech and social development; they help the jaw and other facial features develop properly; and they guide adult teeth into the correct positions. If a child’s baby teeth are decayed, or lost or pulled too early, the child may suffer from difficulties in development as well as crooked adult teeth and other dental problems later on.
That said, baby teeth are meant to be temporary, and even the healthiest baby teeth give way to permanent, adult teeth eventually. Losing their first teeth can be a big deal for young children, and it is sometimes a confusing and frightening experience. We’re here to help you make it a fun, exciting and educational time instead! Let’s brush up on a quick history of the tooth fairy, and how to celebrate #ToothFairyDay!
Who is the Tooth Fairy?
Like many figures of children’s folklore, the Tooth Fairy varies according to country and culture. In the U.S. and Canada, the Tooth Fairy is often depicted as a small fairy with a wand and wings. But in Spain, France and Belgium, the tooth fairy is a sweet mouse who collects lost baby teeth in exchange for a small gift!
How Old is the Tooth Fairy?
The Tooth Fairy has origins as far back as 13th century England, when people paid for baby teeth because they symbolized good luck and prosperity. But the first known reference to the modern children’s folklore figure of the Tooth Fairy dates over a hundred years ago, to a 1908 “Household Hints” blurb in the Chicago Tribune, as follows:
Tooth Fairy. Many a refractory child will allow a loose tooth to be removed if he knows about the Tooth Fairy. If he takes his little tooth and puts it under the pillow when he goes to bed the Tooth Fairy will come in the night and take it away, and in its place will leave some little gift. It is a nice plan for mothers to visit the 5-cent counter and lay in a supply of articles to be used on such occasions.
– Lillian Brown, Tooth Fairy, Chicago Daily Tribune
The Tooth Fairy that we are familiar with is at least 114 years old -- quite young compared to other children’s mythological figures. For example, the Easter Bunny is believed to be over 400 years old, and Santa Claus is over 1750 years old!
What Does the Tooth Fairy Pay?
In 2021, the average rate for a baby tooth was a whopping $4.70. Here are the average rates per tooth by U.S. region in 2021, according to Delta Dental:
$4.45: South, closest to the overall U.S. average.
Parents often scale the rate of pay-per-tooth with the child’s age, and most children receive between 25¢ and $1 for their first lost baby tooth. We recommend explaining to your child that the Tooth Fairy pays more for a healthy tooth vs. a dirty or cavity-riddled one, which will motivate your little ones to take great care of their teeth!
Ways to Celebrate Tooth Fairy Day:
#FunFact: Tooth Fairy Day is so nice it’s celebrated twice – on February 28th and six months later, on August 22nd. This special holiday is observed twice a year in order to encourage good and consistent dental habits for children all year round!
Children typically lose baby teeth between the ages of 6 and 12, but the “schedule” for losing baby teeth can be unpredictable and varies according to each child. Make sure to plan ahead of time and have small bills on hand for when your child does lose a tooth and some fun, small token for your child, like a lost tooth certificate!
The ADA (American Dental Association) has a plethora of fantastic, free material that you can download and print out for your children. Click here for fun and free Tooth Fairy Receipts, Lost Tooth Certificates, keepsake pages, brushing calendars, doorknob signs and more.
And here is a list of great children’s books about the Tooth Fairy, losing a first tooth, and the importance of healthy teeth.
Losing baby teeth should be an exciting, fun time for both children and parents. It is also a great opportunity to teach young children good dental hygiene habits. Teaching your child to keep their teeth clean and healthy by brushing and flossing daily might seem like a small thing, but it is an invaluable routine that will benefit them for their entire lives! Have a very Happy Tooth Fairy Day!