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We all grew up knowing exactly what to do when you lose a tooth: you put it under your pillow. Then you go to sleep, and when you wake up in the morning, there is a nickel or a dime or even a dollar under the pillow where you left it. This money is, of course, from the tooth fairy, who rewards children for being good boys and girls even during the process of losing their baby teeth. The legend dates back over a hundred years, and children have many questions about who this being is.

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Where Did The Tooth Fairy Come From?

The tooth fairy tale exists in countries all over the world. The legend is believed to have started in the United States, however, in the early 1900s. The custom was created as a way to celebrate the loss of a child's baby teeth and to help ease their transition into their next stage of childhood. Each parent or family has a different way of conveying this tooth fairy legend to their child, resulting in a myriad of different origin stories and tall tales about this sprightly creature.

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What Does The Tooth Fairy Do with All The Teeth?

For new parents especially, it is good to have an answer to this question. Again, each family's tooth fairy narrative is different, but some already-invented stories from around the world might shed some light on this mystery. Some say, for instance, that the tooth fairy uses the teeth to build a castle for his or her queen. Others say that in the tooth fairy world, teeth are a form of currency. When you are introducing the tooth fairy to your child, this is a part you can have fun and get very creative with!

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Why Do Different Teeth Get Different Amounts of Money?

Since each family has a different version of the tooth fairy, children are bound to find discrepancies between their tooth fairy and others. They might get a quarter for each tooth lost, but someone else in their class may get a dollar. Some parents explain this by saying that the cleaner the tooth collected, the more money the child receives. This not only helps to clear up the story but also encourages children to take better care of their pearly whites.

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What if the Tooth is Lost Before the Tooth Fairy Finds It?

This question is a very serious one for many children. Sometimes teeth fall out on their own, or the child accidentally swallows one. Or perhaps they put the tooth in their pocket at school, and it falls out through a hole before they get home. In these cases, the child would be very worried that they would miss out on getting the money they would normally receive for the tooth. Luckily, the tooth fairy also accepts handwritten notes placed under the pillow explaining what happened to the tooth and usually pays them anyway.

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What if the Dentist Pulls the Tooth?

This is another distressing question. What if there is a problem and the child doesn't pull the tooth out on his or her own? Or what if there is an accident or a cavity or something else, and teeth have to be removed surgically or by a dentist? In this case, many family tooth fairies reward the child for the teeth they lost anyway, and may even consider leaving the child an encouraging note. This can help to lift their spirits after what could be a very traumatic experience and can help them to keep believing in magic.

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Does the Tooth Fairy Always Leave Notes Behind?

Some tooth fairies do! In many families, it is a tradition that the tooth fairy leaves a note behind along with the money for the tooth. The note can simply be thanking the child for the tooth, or it can include some advice or answer a question the child has about the tooth fairy. Some families even make these notes teeny tiny - because the tooth fairy herself is teeny tiny! Parents can have fun with this part, or they can just stick to leaving the money. It is up to you!

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Does the Reward Have to Be Money?

Of course not! Each parent can come up with their own tooth fairy system. In families where money is tight or parents don't want to focus as much on cash, other things can be used as a reward for teeth. A small toy, for example, could be even more appreciated than a dollar would be since it can be played with right then and there. Chocolate coins could also be given (although these aren't the best for tooth health, perhaps!) or large fake coins the child can collect and keep forever.

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How Can We Prepare for the Tooth Fairy's Arrival?

Just putting the tooth under the pillow might not have enough style or flair for some families. In this case, parents can feel free to make it an event! You and your child can sew or use paper to build a small pocket or purse for the tooth before placing it under the tooth. Spend the day telling your child legends about the tooth fairy, and he or she can write the tooth fairy a note. You can be as festive as you like!

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What Are Some Alternatives to the Tooth Fairy?

Just as the tooth fairy legend changes from family to family, it also changes from country to country. In Argentina, for instance, it is not a fairy that comes to take the tooth, it is a rat! The child places their tooth in a cup of water near their bed. The rat, called El Raton de Los Dientes comes and drinks the water, takes the tooth, and leaves a prize. In Japan, children throw their baby teeth onto the roof, in the hopes that their new adult teeth will grow upward toward them. The variations on baby teeth traditions are endless!

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Is the Tooth Fairy Real?

Many children are skeptical by nature and may have a hard time believing in the tooth fairy. Some ways to make the tooth fairy more real are to leave notes in handwriting different from your normal one or to print your notes off the computer on unfamiliar stationery. Notes can be very convincing, especially if they are written in tiny fairy handwriting! In the end, it is up to you and your family to keep the tooth fairy alive and real (if that is what you want), so feel free to branch out and get creative!

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.