Tips for Making the Tooth Fairy Magical

If you have a child approaching their sixth year, then it’s probably time to start planning to don your wings and play Tooth Fairy.

When kids hit age six or so, they can start losing their baby teeth. While this is a fun milestone for kids, it can also be a stressful one. The fear of pain, blood, or swallowing the tooth while eating can overshadow the excitement of losing a baby chomper.

The History of the Tooth Fairy

Did you know that the tale of the Tooth Fairy is common in cultures around the world? Writings from around 1200 indicate that children in Northern Europe received a tand-fé (tooth fee) when a tooth fell out. Only, the teeth weren’t collected by little fairies at night; they were worn by Scandinavians who fought in battle because tokens from children were thought to bring good luck to warriors.

In Europe during the Middle Ages, baby teeth weren’t made into jewelry or kept for memory’s sake. It was believed that if a tooth wasn’t destroyed upon falling out, it could be used by witches to cast curses on the tooth’s former owner.

More modern tales involving the Tooth Fairy suggest s/he needs teeth to build a kingdom or to create pixie dust that allows her/him to fly. Thus, parents the world over must remember to remove teeth from under pillows and leave money the eve a tooth is lost in order to assure the wellbeing of this industrious fairy.

One of the first modern stories of the Tooth Fairy was published in the Chicago Tribune by author Lillian Brown. Published in 1908, Brown suggested that giving a small gift to a child could help ease anxiety about losing a baby tooth or having one pulled by a dentist to make way for adult teeth. It’s believed that Brown’s article sparked creativity in other authors who developed their own stories about the Tooth Fairy.

How to Make the Experience Magical for Kids

Once the first tooth falls out, you probably have just a couple of years to keep the magic of the Tooth Fairy alive. After age nine or so, it can be hard for most children to continue believing in whimsical creatures who buy teeth, leave eggs full of treats, or slide down chimneys to deposit presents under a tree. So, how can you make the Tooth Fairy magical for kids while they still believe?

Establish a Backstory

If your child is worried about losing a tooth, you can use the story of the Tooth Fairy to ease their anxiety. Create a backstory for the Fairy, and how your child’s sacrifice will benefit the pixie. Some parents tell their children there is a community of fairies who spend their nights collecting teeth and leaving tokens for children under their pillows. This can help make the story more believable, as it might be hard to imagine one fairy successfully visiting all children who’ve lost a tooth in one day. 

Also, let your child know what their assigned fairy does with the teeth. Are they building materials for a castle? Do the teeth make flying possible? Are the teeth used to make fake teeth for people who’ve lost all of theirs? Maybe the Tooth Fairy puts teeth in the night sky, and that’s what the stars are made of. Depending on your child’s imagination, you can create the backstory that fits best.

According to data collected by author Rosemary Wells, 74% of people surveyed in 1984 considered the Tooth Fairy to be female, and that she would resemble Walt Disney’s Tinkerbell-style fairy. 

Set a Rate

Is there anything worse than your child expressing disappointment over the amount of money, or the gift left by the Tooth Fairy? Teach your child to have reasonable expectations by establishing the going rate for teeth collected by your Fairy. The average payment for a tooth in 2021 is recorded at $4.70, but that seems a bit much for a six-year-old. Of course, if a tooth is extracted with a bit more hoopla than neighboring baby teeth, it might be worth more as a consolation for what your child went through.

Whatever amount you think is appropriate, have a conversation with your child about it. If you prefer to leave a more modest amount, such as a quarter per tooth, you can tell your child the Tooth Fairy is so small she can’t carry a lot of human money with her. If your child counters that paper money might be lighter than coins, tell your child dollar bills create too much drag and they slow down the Tooth Fairy significantly.

Use a Tooth Fairy Pillow

If you’ve managed to keep track of your child’s tooth during the day it fell out, don't let it get lost in their bed when they go to sleep! Make or purchase a special little pillow that has a pocket for lost teeth. This way there’s less chance the tooth will fall behind the bed, get rumpled in the covers, or go to the same place lost socks end up.

If a tooth pillow seems like a lot of work, establish a routine of putting the tooth in a plastic bag and taping it to the nightstand, the wall next to the bed, or even the bedroom door. You could also use an empty mints tin, or stay on theme and use an empty floss container.

Leave a Trail

Often, children leave a note with their discarded tooth. Have your Tooth Fairy respond to your child on teeny tiny paper in teeny tiny handwriting. Or, leave little footprints on your child’s note to show the fairy made an appearance. If your Tooth Fairy collects the teeth so she can use them for projects, maybe she leaves a receipt for your child to document the transaction.

Dispose of the Teeth

While it’s fun to have the Tooth Fairy leave a trail, make sure you don’t incriminate yourself by leaving baby teeth sitting around. If you're going to throw away the teeth, don’t do it at home! Kids are only about as tall as the trash can, and their eagle eyes always seem to spot discarded items that they aren’t meant to see (hello, old art projects and broken toys!). Toss the teeth in a nearby dumpster, or at your office to avoid detection.

Contingency Plans

It goes without saying that you will forget, at least once, to fulfill your duties as the Tooth Fairy. So, establish contingency plans to cover yourself!

What to do if the Tooth Fairy Forgets to Visit

If the Tooth Fairy forgets to visit your child, here are some excuses you can give:

  • Your room was too messy and the Tooth Fairy couldn’t find her way to your tooth!

  • There were probably a lot of lost teeth last night and the Fairy was overworked. 

  • We forgot to leave a note for the Fairy, so she may not have known it was okay to take your tooth and leave a treat!

  • Suggest the Tooth Fairy didn’t visit because not everyone in the house brushed their teeth and flossed the night before. Promise that everyone will try harder tonight so the Fairy can visit.

  • Make up a non-serious emergency for the Fairy, such as a sprained wing, a broken tooth-carrying bag, or bad flying conditions.

  • The dog/cat/family pet scared the Tooth Fairy. Suggest leaving a note that the pet is friendly so the Tooth Fairy can visit safely.

You may only get a couple of years of Tooth Fairy magic, so only put in the effort that you think it's worth for your family. For kids with anxiety about losing baby teeth, the Fairy is a great way to help them see the bright side. Plus, as your kids get older, they can enjoy being in on the magic for younger siblings when it’s their turn to lose baby teeth.

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