The History of the Tooth Fairy

Did you know that kids today receive an average of $3.25 per tooth thanks to the tooth fairy?

The price of a tooth has certainly gone up over the years. According to a study by LendEDU, the baby boomer generation (those ages 54 and up) received an average of 69 cents per tooth. Those apart of Generation X (ages 39 to 53) recall an average of $1.39 per tooth, and millennials (ages 24 to 38) received approximately $2.13 per tooth.

How exactly did the tradition of exchanging teeth for money begin? Let’s take a deeper look.


Today’s American tooth fairy first began to appear in popular culture in the early 1900s. Unlike other colleagues such as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy doesn’t have a religious background. Instead, the tooth fairy is a combination of many different traditions and cultures.

Although origins vary from culture to culture, many stories involve mice! Believe it or not, mice wear down and regrow their four front teeth about every 40 days. As such, tradition states children would leave their baby teeth out for mice, hoping that would help their adult teeth grow back stronger. This developed into a barter system, and children began leaving their teeth out for a fairy figure, rather than an actual mouse.

Traditions around the World


In Spain (and other Hispanic cultures), children place a lost tooth under their pillow for Ratoncito Perez, also known as El Raton de Los Dientes (the tooth mouse). Like the tooth fairy, Perez will replace collected teeth with a gift (not always money).

South Africa

South African tradition is very similar to America’s tradition, however, instead of placing a tooth under a pillow, it is placed in a slipper.

India, China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam

In some Asian countries, teeth are tossed around! When a child loses a tooth from the lower jaw, they throw the tooth towards the ceiling. When the tooth is lost from the upper jaw, they throw it to the ground. It is also common for children to yell out a wish for their tooth to be replaced by that of a mouse.

The information contained above is intended to be educational in nature, does not constitute medical advice, and should not be relied on as a substitute for actual professional medical advice, care or treatment. If you have any vision, dental or other health related concerns, VBA encourages you to immediately contact your optometrist/ophthalmologist, dentist/orthodontist or any other competent, licensed, medical professional.