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Childhood is a phase where we discover and experience a bunch of new things. It is a mixed package of firsthand experiences and the belief we acquire through those experiences.
One such belief is that of the tooth fairy. Tooth Fairy is a mystical fairy who exchanges gifts or money for a tooth. It is an ancient belief strengthened by parents to comfort their children when they lose their teeth.
But when the child grows into an adult, he asks questions like, is the tooth fairy real? And starts to find practical evidence to support his answer. In this growth from a child to an adult, the mind takes a diversion from a magical world to an analytical world.
Now, let’s explore the magical world of the tooth fairy.
Everything About The Tooth Fairy You Need To Know
When the child loses his tooth, the parents suggest he keep the tooth under his pillow. And while he is asleep, the lost tooth is replaced by some gifts or dollar bills. This exchange of things according to the child is done by the tooth fairy1. Therefore, when the child awakes, he gets amazed by seeing the presents.
And from here, the child starts believing in the magic of the tooth fairy and broadens his imagination. But as they grow up and start to analyze things, these old traditions get suppressed. Then the questions like
- Is the tooth fairy real?
- Why can’t I meet her?
- Why she comes when I am asleep? Start to appear.
The response to this question should be delicately handled, and below are a few ways to help you handle the situation.
But first, let’s explore and find out the origin of the tooth fairy concept:
A. Origin Of Tooth Fairy
There is always the question is the tooth fairy real, and to answer that, there are two origin points of the tooth fairy.
One is the famous tradition which is of ancient origin, and the other is the word tooth fairy which has a more recent origin.
1. Origin of the Tradition:
In the earliest recorded writings of Norse people called Edda, the Tand-fe tradition was found. The word Tand-fe translates as Tooth fee.
Therefore this popular culture is all about parents paying a small fee to their children when they lose their teeth. This culture is kept alive for generations by the parents.
2. Origin of the Word:
The first published mention of the word tooth fairy was found in an article written by Author Lillian Brown in 1908. The article was published in Chicago Tribune.
In this article, the author Lillian Brown gave an idea wrapped in a suggestion to new parents.
The idea was to introduce tooth fairy characters to the child to comfort them when they lost their teeth. And the suggestion of giving gifts to the child in exchange for a tooth in the name of the tooth fairy inculcated a belief in magic in the child.
The tooth fairy idea may be an ancient one, but it is still an effective one in practice.
B. Superstitions Related To Teeth
There are many superstitions connected to fallen teeth.
- The superstition of Norse people is that the tooth brings good fortune and therefore it is valuable.
- Due to this belief, some warriors made necklaces from their fallen teeth, which they wore during battles to keep themselves safe and protected.
- According to Japanese belief, if the upper tooth is fallen, it is thrown downwards to the ground, and if the lower tooth is fallen, it is thrown upwards in the air. The logic behind doing this is to ensure that the incoming teeth will grow straight.
C. Ways To Approach The Question: Is The Tooth Fairy Real?
These characters improve a child’s imagination and help him acquire his point of view regarding various things.
The realization of the truth of these characters can sometimes break the child’s heart. So below are some ways to help you answer the question.
1. Consider The Child’s Age.
Before confronting the child with reality, ask yourself if the child is ready to listen to the truth. Don’t break the belief if he/she is not ready to listen or understand the reality.
Be gentle with your response. If they ask you the question, is the tooth fairy real? Then don’t hesitate to prolong the tooth fairy magic or respond to help the child cope with reality.
2. Let The Child Take The Lead
Be in tune with the child’s behavior to know what he wants. If he asks the question, is the tooth fairy real? Then consider if he really wants to know the truth about the tooth fairy or wants reassurance to believe in the tooth fairy’s magic.
Let them take the lead and express themselves what they feel about the tooth fairy. And according to their response, parents can decide if it is the right time to tell the truth or not.
3. Keep Sitters In Confidence
Keep every member associated with the child in the loop about the stories you tell or the belief you inculcate in them.
Suppose you have told a story to the child about the tooth fairy and ask for assurance of the story from other members and get a different answer. This can affect his trusting abilities, and it may be difficult for the child to trust the words you speak.
This situation can also cause a clash of ideas in the child’s mind, resulting in a decrease in the level of trust in parents.
4. Explain The Idea Of The Tooth Fairy
Every magical character symbolizes a quality that helps the child to connect to the character.
If the child asks the question, is the tooth fairy real, or if the child comes to know the truth from his peers and is heartbroken, then explain to him/her what the tooth fairy symbolizes. It can symbolize the qualities like compassion and joy in giving others.
5. Be Ready For The Response
When the child gets to know the reality, he/she can react in many ways. Some may laugh, remembering their old reactions to the idea, some may feel heartbroken, and some may even get angry.
However, your child reacts or responds, and you should be patient with them and assure them that everything was done out of love.
6. Keeping a Secret
When the child asks if the tooth fairy is real, he gets to know the truth about the tooth fairy as an answer. Then ask him to keep it secret from the younger ones.
Give him an example where somebody told a secret, and the result of telling was disappointing, and the joy of exploring things had vanished.
This will help you teach your children not to be spoiled sports and keep the secret so that the younger ones can enjoy it.
D. Importance of Oral Hygiene
Whether the tooth fairy is real or not, the benefits the character brings are many. Through this myth, you can teach your younger ones about healthy and essential oral hygiene. Such as:
1. Brushing The Teeth.
Everyone should correctly brush their teeth twice a day for strong and healthy teeth. Brushing the teeth helps in keeping the mouth germ-free and fresh all day.
Mainly, the toothbrush used for brushing teeth should be changed every 12-13 weeks to keep the teeth strong and away from harm.
2. Flossing The Teeth.
Flossing5 should be done at least once a day to keep the mouth clean. Flossing helps in reducing plaque and bacteria in the mouth.
3. Visit the dentist.
It is mandatory to visit a dentist after every six months to check on dental health.
If you have any dental problems, then the advice is to diagnose or treat the problem.
As the tooth fairy is often associated with teeth, it makes the parent’s job easier to explain to the child about oral health. With the tooth fairy’s help, we can explain complex oral health dynamics in a fun and simple way to the children.
The tooth fairy is a concept that can comfort the child when he is losing his baby teeth6. But it is not a compulsion. Rather, it is an option. You can also opt to say the tooth fairy’s truth from the very start about is the tooth fairy real or a myth.
Hopefully, this article gave you insight into the tooth fairy character, her magical world, and the ways to respond to the child if he/she asks the question is the tooth fairy real?
- Wells, Rosemary. “The making of an icon: The tooth fairy in North American folklore and popular culture.” The good people: New Fairylore essays (1997): 426-53. ↩︎
- Lecouteux, Claude. Encyclopedia of Norse and Germanic folklore, mythology, and magic. Simon and Schuster, 2016. ↩︎
- Hickey, Joseph V., William E. Thompson, and Donald L. Foster. “Becoming the Easter bunny: Socialization into a fantasy role.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 17.1 (1988): 67-95. ↩︎
- Shlien, John. “Santa Claus: The Myth in America.” ETC: A Review of General Semantics (1959): 389-400. ↩︎
- Hujoel, P. P., et al. “Dental flossing and interproximal caries: a systematic review.” Journal of dental research 85.4 (2006): 298-305. ↩︎
- Krasner, William. “Baby Tooth Survey–First Results.” Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 55.2 (2013): 18-24. ↩︎