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Fairfield Central Shopping Centre, T29, 2-30 Lakeside Drive, Idalia, 4811.
Shop-3, 15-23 Kokoda Street, Idalia, 4811.


Beyond the Tooth Fairy – Tooth Traditions Around the World

November 1st, 2018|

Did you ever question the tradition of putting your tooth underneath your pillow in order to wake up to money in the morning once the tooth fairy had fluttered in to make her trade? Perhaps your own child asked you why the tooth fairy would pay for their teeth in the first place, and you came up short for an answer. Either way, here at The Townsville Dentist we decided to do a deep-dive into some of the strange and exciting history of the tooth fairy, and similar traditions from around the world.

The tooth fairy

The tooth fairy is a pervasive mythical character (shh don’t tell the kids) that’s cropped up throughout the Western world for centuries. She comes when a child has lost a tooth and trades the tooth for a small sum of money. It is linked back to old Norse traditions where the tand-fé (tooth fee) was first described in the Edda, the oldest Norse texts, as a gift for a child when they lost their first tooth. It often came in the shape of a gold coin that they’d later wear around their neck as a lucky charm when heading to war. Seeing that the Norwegian word for the tooth fairy is ‘tann (tooth) fe (fairy)’, perhaps the idea of a fairy delivering money developed naturally from the name itself? That’s right, the tooth fairy might be a modern-day remnant of Norse mythology or lore, alongside nymphs and trolls, Thor and Yggdrasil. A little cooler than tinker bell now, perhaps?

Basque – Mary from the roof

In the small region of Basque in Spain, it is believed that a creature named Mary from the roof lives in the roof of farmhouses and catches the teeth mid-air when thrown into the air by children.  What she does with them? Who knows.

Japan, India, China, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq

The tradition of throwing one’s tooth goes far beyond the boundaries of Basque. Indeed, a range of countries in Asia have a tradition of throwing their teeth into the air or onto the ground depending on what tooth they lost. Did the tooth grow in your upper jaw? Throw the tooth to the ground! Did it grow in your lower jaw? Throw it into the air! The idea being that the tooth-to-come would be encouraged to grow in the direction of the throw. Some would even put the teeth into the roof or underneath the floorboards, in order to ensure that the next teeth would come in strong and healthy!

Why do we make up stories around teeth?

Losing one’s teeth is a scary and sometimes painful sensation for people of any age, so perhaps parents from around the world and through the ages began crafting stories and games around losing one’s teeth in order to make it something the children not only feared, but also looked forward to. The Townsville Dentist knows children can be timid when it comes to their teeth and visiting the dentist. That’s why we take great care in making sure our clinic is warm and child-friendly.

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Fairfield Central Shopping Centre, T29, 2-30 Lakeside Drive, Idalia, 4811

Shop-3, 15-23 Kokoda Street, Idalia, 4811.

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