Everybody knows about the tooth fairy and how they will exchange a milk tooth for a reward. However, the tradition of the tooth fairy can vary around the world.
- English-Speaking Countries
Generally, English-speaking countries have similar traditions where when a child loses a milk or primary tooth, they place it under their pillow before they go to sleep. At some time during the night, the tooth is exchanged for cash. The amount of cash can vary tremendously depending on the generosity of that particular tooth fairy.
- Japan, India, Korea, China and Vietnam
These countries don’t do anything as mundane as placing the tooth under a pillow. Instead, teeth lost from the lower jaw are thrown onto the roof of the house. Those from the upper jaw are placed on the floor or underneath it. The reasoning is that the old tooth will pull the new tooth towards it. Some children will also make a wish that a mouse tooth replaces their tooth. This isn’t a silly request, as rodent teeth continually grow, which sounds like a very useful feature.
- Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Chile and Argentina
These countries have a mouse that collects teeth and is called Ratoncito Pérez. Just like in English-speaking countries, the tooth is placed under a pillow and replaced with a gift, but this might not be money. There is even a Ratoncito Pérez Museum in Madrid. In Argentina, the baby tooth is placed in a glass of water and left out for the tooth-collecting mouse, who will then drink the water, take the tooth and leave a gift in the empty glass.
- Egypt, Iraq and Jordan
In these Middle Eastern countries, primary teeth are tossed up to the sky in a tradition that dates back to the thirteenth century.
- South Africa
Instead of placing baby teeth underneath a pillow for the tooth fairy, they are placed into slippers.
The French also have a mouse rather than a tooth fairy, called La Bonne Petite Souris. Baby teeth are left underneath a pillow and the mouse then obligingly replaces them with money or sweets, although we would never recommend sweets as a suitable gift in return for milk teeth.
This country has perhaps one of the strangest and least rewarding tooth fairy rituals for children. The milk tooth is placed in fat and fed to the family dog. The thought is that the new adult tooth will become as strong as a dog’s tooth. No dog at home? Then the tooth is buried by a tree with the idea that the new tooth will grow strong roots.
If your child is about to get their adult teeth, you can always make your own family tradition by deciding if they will get money or a gift. You might want to buy a special keepsake for the first tooth lost; for example, the Royal Australian Mint has produced a $2 tooth fairy coin that comes with a special message, a tooth chart and a toothbrush to look after those precious adult teeth.