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Tooth Fairy

History of the Tooth Fairy

I’ve always found the tooth fairy rather fascinating. Why on earth would anyone in their right mind want to pay people for their discarded body parts? When I cut my fingernails, there’s no fairy out there waiting to swoop right in and pay me for my old nails. Nobody comes and takes away your hair after a hair cut, which is kind of a shame, since The Hairy Fairy has such a nice ring to it.

So, how exactly did the tooth fairy come to be?  After doing a bit of research into this fascinating subject, I discovered the following information.

The History of the Tooth Fairy

History of the Tooth FairyIn ancient times, kids used to give their old teeth to some sort of an animal.  For example, in Ancient Abyssinia, children would throw their tooth at a hyena and ask the hyena to make their permanent teeth strong.

This tradition of giving your tooth to an animal continued on for a long time.  In the 1800’s, French children would throw their tooth under the bed and ask the mice to eat the old tooth and bring them a shiny new tooth to replace the one they had just lost.

Somewhere along the line, children started getting a little smarter, or perhaps a little greedier.  I like to picture a young French boy named Jean-Michel thinking to himself:

I’m pretty much guaranteed to get a permanent tooth.  I should start pushing the envelope and seeing what I can really get in exchange for this used tooth.

Author James Wynbrandt speaks of this transition in his book, The Excruciating History of Dentistry.  “A subtle transition began to occur in the late nineteenth century.  In a variation of the ritual in France, the mouse no longer replaced the tooth, but traded it for a small gift.  French children waited for a nocturnal visit from le petit souris, the little mouse, when they wanted to cash in a lost tooth.  The tooth was put in the child’s shoe, and while the child slept, the mouse exchanged it for a coin.  A barter system also developed wherein a sleeping youngster could trade a tooth for candy, not with a mouse but with a good fairy.”

In my opinion, kids like Jean-Michel may have had a hard time believing that a mouse actually came into their house and took their tooth.  My guess is that certain parents, eager to explain how their child’s old tooth magically turned into cash, thought that a fairy sounded like a good explanation.

Do you have any further insights, thoughts, or questions about the history of the tooth fairy?  How do you celebrate the loss of a tooth in your family?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

How Much Does the Tooth Fairy Pay Per Tooth?
©Chistyakova Julia/

Gone are the good old days of lost tooth lore when all that children wanted in exchange for their lost baby tooth was a healthy permanent tooth.

How Much Does the Tooth Fairy Pay?Nowadays, kids are demanding more and more from the tooth fairy.

Many parents want to know how much the tooth fairy pays.  Personally, I’m not sure that it’s really the business of parents to know what goes on between the tooth fairy and their children, but what do I know?

For all those curious parents out there, here’s how much the tooth fairy has paid out over the last six years.

Tooth Fairy: How Much Does She Pay Per Tooth?

How Much Does the Tooth Fairy Pay Per Tooth?

I came across a wide variety of figures while researching the amount that the tooth fairy pays.  I found this tooth fairy poll website that aims to track the current going rate for lost baby teeth as well as an article in Money Magazine from 2005.  The article pegged the value of one lost baby tooth at $1.78.

The most comprehensive tooth fairy payout statistics, however, are available from Delta Dental of Minnesota.  They seem to have a passion for finding out how much the tooth fairy pays.  They go to great lengths to figure out the national average (as well as the Minnesota average) for tooth fairy payouts.

Here’s a summary of Delta Dental of Minnesota’s annual tooth fairy reports with a graph displaying the average price that the tooth fairy has paid per tooth over the last six years:

A Graph of How Much the Tooth Fairy Has Paid

As you can see, the values are steadily rising, which is good news for the children!

On a side note, the high rate of return (around 10% since 2005) causes me to think that baby teeth might be a good investment, especially when you take into account the fact that the U.S. credit rating was recently downgraded.

Should Children Be Able to Bank Their Teeth?

While researching for this article, I came across an interesting option the tooth fairy apparently offers. Some parents supposedly encourage their children to save up multiple lost teeth and then the child can cash them all in at once.  By saving the teeth and then putting them all under their pillow at once, the tooth fairy gives them more for the teeth collectively than the good fairy would have given for each individual tooth.

Perhaps this helps children learn to save, or perhaps the tooth fairy is slowing down with old age and appreciates saving a trip.  Either way, I’d never thought about doing this with my own kids.  I’m still undecided, but I think I prefer the original system.  After all, having to save up teeth might kill some of the excitement by not allowing each child to get their 20 tooth fairy visits.

How Much Does The Tooth Fairy Pay Per Tooth At Your House?

How much does the tooth fairy pay when she visits your children?  Do  your kids save up their teeth to get a larger payout from the tooth fairy?  Does the tooth fairy pay more for teeth that have never had cavities? Do you have a child with a double tooth, an extra tooth, or congenitally missing teeth?  If so, how does the tooth fairy account for those anomalies?

I’d love to hear what the tooth fairy does at your house. Thanks for reading!

Adult Teeth Coming in Behind Baby Teeth

Many parents become alarmed when they look in their child’s mouth and see the permanent teeth growing behind the baby teeth.  What went wrong?  Aren’t the permanent teeth supposed to grow under the baby teeth and push them out?

Rest assured, permanent teeth coming in behind baby teeth is not an emergency!

Ordinarily, as the permanent teeth push up, the roots of the baby teeth dissolve and the baby tooth eventually falls out, allowing the permanent teeth to come in.  Sometimes, the baby teeth don’t want to leave the mouth, and the permanent teeth come in right behind them.  This condition is technically known as lingually erupting mandibular incisors and more commonly known as shark teeth or simply permanent teeth coming in behind baby teeth.

In this article, I’ll talk about why shark teeth happen, how common shark teeth are, whether or not they’re serious, and what your dentist or pediatric dentist can do to treat shark teeth.  I’ll even sprinkle in a couple of pictures so you can check to see if this is what is happening with your child.

Here’s a close-view of the lower jaw of a child with his permanent lower incisors coming in behind his baby incisors.  The child’s parent commented that hours after this picture was taken, one of the baby teeth fell out.  So sometimes the body can even correct the problem on its own!

Shark Teeth - Permanent Teeth Coming In Behind Baby Teeth

Why Permanent Teeth Grow In Behind The Baby Teeth

The book Pediatric Dentistry by Jimmy Pinkham states that “the cause of ectopic and lingually erupting incisors is not well established.”

There are a few guesses as to why shark teeth occur.  Some dentists believe that this occurs because the roots of the baby teeth don’t get dissolved like they normally should and the permanent teeth have nowhere else to go, so they just come into the mouth where there is the least amount of resistance.

Other dentists say that the permanent teeth start growing in behind the baby teeth because there is too much crowding in the lower jaw.

Another theory says that because the permanent teeth develop behind the baby teeth, this is simply a slight deviation from normal and they just didn’t make it as far forward as they should have.

I think that all of these are good explanations as to why this phenomenon occurs.  I personally think that all three are possible explanations and any of them might be true for a specific individual.

How Common/Serious Is It to Have Permanent Teeth Grow In Behind The Baby Teeth?

This study by Gellin states that permanent teeth growing in behind baby teeth is a fairly common condition, occurring in about 10% of all children.

Luckily, many times shark teeth will resolve on their own with the baby teeth eventually falling out.  Sometimes, they don’t resolve on their own.  So far, in less than a year of actually working in the clinics at dental school , I’ve seen two patients who are close to 20 years old that still had baby teeth in front of some of their permanent teeth.

One young woman has decided she will probably get braces because the baby tooth that hung around in her mouth caused a bit of crowding and now her teeth aren’t aligned very well.  Sadly, she never had this corrected when her permanent tooth first came in.  Most of the time, your dentist will be able to correct shark teeth before it becomes a problem.

Here’s a picture of a little boy named Evan.  If you look closely, you’ll see that he has two permanent teeth coming in on the bottom with two baby teeth still hanging around.  His mom stated that the day after this picture was taken, Evan lost one of the teeth.

Shark Teeth: Permanent Teeth Coming In Behind Baby Teeth

The two photos in this article show that many times, shark teeth can resolve on their own.  However, if they don’t, there are certain things a dentist can do to resolve the problem.

How a Dentist Can Help Manage Permanent Teeth Coming In Behind Baby Teeth

If your child’s shark teeth don’t resolve on their own within a couple of weeks, it would be a good idea to have your dentist take a look at what’s going on.  Your child’s dentist will be able to remove the baby teeth from your child’s mouth if needed, and this usually resolves the problem.

If the dentist has removed the baby teeth and there is still not enough room for the permanent teeth to move forward and assume their permanent position in the mouth, then your dentist may perform a procedure known as disking where the dentist slims down some of the remaining baby teeth by removing a bit of enamel from them.  This procedure should allow enough room for the permanent teeth to move into their final position.

In another article on this same topic, a pediatric dentist, Dr. Dean Brandon states “Often teeth come in pairs, so if one tooth is not coming in correctly its partner on the other side won’t either.”

It’s important to make sure that all of the teeth have enough room to come into the mouth and line up just right so that your child can have a straight smile that allows for efficient chewing.


Keep in mind that shark teeth really aren’t abnormal.  It happens to approximately 1 in 10 children.  Most of the time, shark teeth will resolve without intervention (i.e. the baby tooth will fall out and the permanent tooth will assume its proper position).  If they don’t, your dentist can assess the situation and remove the lingering baby tooth if it is necessary.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I’ll respond.  Thanks for reading!