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Tooth Fairy Traditions

By Melissa Summers

My nine-year-old daughter has lost almost every one of her baby teeth and collected, on average, a dollar a tooth for each of them. Now her baby molars are falling out and they’re falling out in two pieces which means, obviously Mother, she gets paid twice for them. Our tooth fairy is no dummy though, she brought fifty cents for the first molar and another fifty will come when the other half falls out. She’s smart! Now if she could only remember to actually come on the night one of my kids loses a tooth.

Today I thought it would be fun to take a look at tooth fairy traditions and gear.

The Tooth Fairy: A Little Back Story

Tooth Fairy Traditions

The tooth fairy myth originated in the United States but is found in many other countries, including Ireland, South Africa, Italy and Australia. It’s said to be a combination of an old European tradition of burying lost baby teeth in the ground and the story of a tooth mouse from a 17th century French fairy tale titled “La Bonne Petite Souris.” In the story, a fairy is transformed into a mouse to help a queen defeat an evil king; she hides underneath the evil king’s pillow and eventually knocks out all his teeth.


The tooth fairy tradition in other countries is often different from the myth we have here in the United States. In Italy, Spain and France a small mouse collects children’s teeth. In some Asian countries children throw their tooth on the roof if it fell from their lower jaw or put it below the house if it fell from their upper jaw.

You can read about all the various tooth fairy tradition in Throw Your Tooth On The Roof, a book of collected traditions by Selby Beeler.

Special Containers for the Fairy’s Loot

Tooth Fairy Traditions

I love the idea of specific tooth fairy-related gear, like cute boxes or bags for your child to put her tooth in at bedtime. My kids are very light sleepers, though, so if the tooth fairy were to reach under their pillows to collect a tooth, they’d definitely wake up. I’ve also found that if the special tooth box is left on the kitchen counter, instead of under a pillow or on a bedside table, the “tooth fairy” is a lot more likely to make a deposit in a timely manner.

You can also make your own tooth box, like this one by artist Vesna Taneva-Miller, constructed from a large matchbox, although I might add a ribbon handle so the box can hang on the outside of a bedroom door, further insuring the tooth fairy will not forget to stop by and won’t have to worry about tripping over toys and waking up a kid.

These tooth fairy bears from Martha Stewart (pictured above) are a bit more complicated but far too cute not to share. I know it’s sewing but remember the softies my kids and I made? It has to be easier than that — the bears only have one head, after all.

According to this CBS report, the going rate for teeth is rising, up by 22 percent from a year ago. The average kid is raking in $2.09 on average per baby tooth. I’m taking heart, though, in the fact that most parents in the survey said they give out $1.00 per tooth. How much does your tooth fairy fork over per tooth?

More From AlphaMom

Why Do My Tweens Still Believe in the Tooth Fairy?
Parenting Traditions from Different Cultures
The Lies We Tell




Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • De in D.C.

    April 8, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    $1 per tooth, though $2 for the one that fell out on Christmas Eve (in defense, the one previous to that he swallowed and the tooth fairy didn’t come).

  • designingmama

    April 9, 2008 at 9:31 am

    We do $1 a tooth, and the tooth fairy folds it into a little origami star with glitter inside. There is usually glitter on the window sill, too. The big question is why I started that stupid tradition in the first place… I have since recovered from my hyperparenting ways!
    I live in Massachusetts, and several people I know give $5 a tooth! It’s hard to explain to the kids why the tooth fairy is cheaper in our house, but I’m sticking to my guns.

  • Lisa

    April 9, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    The tooth fairy gave $5 for the first tooth, but $1 for each one after that…in change, for some reason they find that fun at first. I found that in order to remember, because I have forgotten 2 nights in a row, I put the change just under the covers in my bed as soon as I’m informed of the lost tooth so that when I go to bed there is no way I can forget…unless I want to sleep on a pile of change.

  • justAcliche

    April 11, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    In our house the tooth fairy gives a gold dollar and a 1/2 dollar for the first tooth. All remaining teeth get a gold dollar. So – $1 a tooth but not just any dollar – a fancy dollar!
    Once they hit double digits the tooth fairy no longer pays. And in this house of 4 boy children, my 13 y/o & 11 y/o are still losing baby teeth so it’s saved us a lot.

  • Heidi

    April 11, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Tooth fairy brought my daughter 1 – 3 dollars per tooth (she’s 15 now) and my son lost his first tooth last year (he’s 5 now) and for the first one the tooth fairy brought one dollar, last month he lost his second tooth and I figured they would be pretty spaced out so the tooth fairy brought two dollars for that tooth. Today, he pulled out another and informed me that since it was his third tooth, the tooth fairy was bringing 3 dollars and he was going to try and pull out more – wow, this could get expensive.

  • Robin

    April 11, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    The last time my daughter lost a tooth, I forgot. She came into our room the next morning and cried, “The tooth fairy forgot to come.” I quickly said, “Really? Lemme help you look” and scrambled to get some quarters and stumble into her room where I “found” the quarters inside her pillow case.

  • Anne

    April 11, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    $5 for the first tooth, $1 for each one after that. To solve the problem of waking up light sleepers, our tooth fairy left instructions that teeth should be left by the tooth brush in the bathroom because she likes to check the brush as well and make sure you’ve been using it. And when Caroline’s tooth came out while she was eating lunch and swallowed it, rendering her inconsolable and in floods of tears, T.F. wrote her a note about how accidents happen and she’d be back for the next one. God bless a communicative Tooth Fairy.

  • natasha

    April 11, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    I am so doing that next time! great idea.
    I give $1 per tooth as well, the real trouble comes in when they hear that their step-sister gets $20, that is ridiculous. It could also be her exaggerating, she does that from time to time.

  • Bonnie

    April 12, 2008 at 7:09 am

    We gave $5 for the first tooth $2 for each thereafter, given in ‘gold’ $1 coins so they are more like treasure.

  • Justine

    April 13, 2008 at 7:32 am

    I love the tooth fairy myth, I think my parents were a little dull with their’s – just a tooth in a glass of water by the bed and hey presto in the morning, it would be a coin in the glass of water.
    I could never quite work out how my friends got visited by a tooth fairy that left glitter or coloured their glass of water pink…!
    My son’s only five, but has already had a visit from the tooth fairy as he had to have two teeth surgically removed. He got $2 a tooth that time, probably because I was still recovering from the trauma of watching him go under a general anesthesia and had that whole guilt-parent-thing goin’ on.
    Incidentally, only just today I blogged about “lying” to your kids and would love your view!

  • Deena

    April 14, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    I always received a silver dollar as a child so I give my kids either that or a golden dollar. I keep a stash in a trinket box on a high shelf (less chance of them finding them). That way I have a coin when the tooth falls out during dinner.

  • KYouell

    May 4, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Wow, I’m old. I got a quarter per tooth. My kids are too young, but I guess I’m going to have to either do the dollar or something else like a gift. Like a version of the Halloween Witch where they get to pick out a few pieces to eat and the rest of the treats go on the doorstep and they get a toy the next morning. Something along those lines because I’m not paying $5 per tooth!

  • Unicornmon

    August 26, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    i remember alot of things with my tooth coming out. i even once asked for a video game instaed of money lol! but i remember my final tooth that i lost i got the most out of it ( i think it was $10 or $20)

  • Shelley Mitchell

    September 12, 2008 at 10:02 am

    We give a $2 bill per tooth. It is something ‘unique’ and fun.

  • jtaylor

    February 23, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Our son gets a collectible coin for each tooth. He recieved a 1903 Barber half dollar for his first tooth. The coin is 100 years older than he is. His second tooth brought a walking liberty dollar from the year that his grandpa was born. He loves saving them in a folder we found and learning about the coins.

  • kelly

    December 17, 2009 at 1:20 am

    $5 at our house but it was $1 in the younger years because it is a bit more responsibility for the large crevices on the bigger teeth and to keep the plaque off all of them!!! My son was also 7 and got braces so this is a big responsibility and we don’t take brushing lightly with seven kiddo’s dental bills could add up but so far so good. Ages are 17, 11 6 and 2 21/2 yr. olds. so nearly 2 down and 3 more to go!