ST. LOUIS — The idea of the Tooth Fairy, a uniquely American concept, emerged from a blend of various cultural traditions, infused with a touch of Disney magic. However, the practice of disposing of baby teeth has roots dating back to medieval times, with different customs such as burying, swallowing, or even setting them on fire. In Ireland, it was believed that fairies would swap a child with their teeth, known as changelings.
The origins of the American Tooth Fairy can be traced back to an 18th-century French fairy tale called “La Bonne Petite Souris” or “The Little Good Mouse.” The story revolves around a small rodent that sneaks into your house while you sleep, deftly carrying a coin or bill. Its destination is your bedroom, where it skillfully hides under your pillow, replacing your lost tooth with money.
The first mention of the tooth fairy appeared in The Chicago Sunday Tribune on September 27, 1908, in an article titled “Practical Housekeeper’s Own Page.” It described how children who place their loose tooth under their pillow before going to bed would have it taken away by the tooth fairy, who would leave behind small gifts. This idea was embraced by mothers, who would often prepare items from the 5-cent counter for such occasions.
Rosemary Wells, a renowned American children’s book writer, operated the Tooth Fairy Museum in her Deerfield, Illinois home from 1993 until her passing in 2000. The museum housed an intriguing collection of toys, artwork, literature, and containers holding baby teeth. Wells delighted visitors, particularly elementary school children, with songs about the Tooth Fairy and guided tours of the museum.
As of today, August 22nd is recognized as National Tooth Fairy Day. According to the 2022 Original Tooth Fairy Poll conducted by Delta Dental, the Tooth Fairy visited approximately 79% of households across the United States, particularly those with children aged 6 to 12 who had lost a tooth.
Delta Dental has been monitoring the trends of the Tooth Fairy in the United States since 1998. According to their data from 2022, the average cash gift per tooth has reached a new high of $5.36. This represents a significant increase from the initial poll in 1998, where the average gift amounted to only $1.30. The average gift in 2022 is 66 cents higher than the previous peak of $4.70 in 2021 and more than $1 higher than the average gift in 2020, which was $4.03.
The Tooth Fairy has become a popular part of American society, providing children with money. As the years have passed, the generosity of the Tooth Fairy has seen a significant increase.