Fun + Inspiration

History of oral health: how the magic of the Tooth Fairy began

It’s one of the hallmarks of childhood. Losing your baby teeth is so exciting, in part, because of the anticipation of what comes next. You leave your tooth under the pillow and go to sleep, hoping the Tooth Fairy will come and leave you a gift, some cash or coins. While largely an American tradition, the Tooth Fairy traces its roots to Europe.


In the French fairy tale “La Bonne Petite Souris” by Madame d’Aulnoy, a mouse sneaks under pillows to exchange children’s lost teeth for money. This story inspired the Tooth Mouse in French-speaking countries.


A similar tradition of El Ratóncito Pérez — involving a mouse who exchanges a child’s lost tooth for a gift — began in Madrid and became popular in Spain, Mexico and South American countries.




A short children’s play by Esther Watkins Arnold became the first written record of the Tooth Fairy in the U.S.


The modern version of the Tooth Fairy took off after World War II with a short story by Lee Rogow published by Collier’s Weekly. Disney characters such as Tinkerbell and Cinderella provided the imagery that turned the Tooth Fairy into an American cultural icon.

The Tooth Fairy's giving rate has soared over the years.


children received per tooth in 19001


children received per tooth in 20202