Can the Tooth Fairy Help Improve Kids’ Oral Health?
Tooth fairy visits can provide an opportunity for parents to talk to kids about dental care.
According to an annual poll that Delta Dental began conducting in 1999, the Tooth Fairy visits about 80 percent of American kids, leaving cash or a small gift in exchange for lost baby teeth. With National Tooth Fairy Day coming up February 28, some parents may be wondering where this tradition comes from and if it has any real value for their kids.
Tooth Fairy Origins
The US is by no means the only country that has traditions surrounding the rite of passage that is losing one’s baby teeth. However, the Tooth Fairy does seem to be a purely American creation—and a relatively young one at that.
In many countries, the creature that comes for lost baby teeth is a rat or a mouse. The hope is that by offering the teeth to the rodent, the child’s permanent teeth will become as strong and sturdy as this creature’s. The mouse or rat also leaves a few coins or a gift when taking the tooth.
Folklore experts believe that in the US, this idea of the “tooth mouse” became overlaid with the idea of a fairy from traditional European folklore to create the Tooth Fairy, in large part because early Disney movies like Pinocchio and Cinderella were bringing wish-granting or favor-bestowing fairies into pop culture.
Tooth Fairy Traditions and Kids’ Oral Health
In many homes, Tooth Fairy visits seem mainly financial transactions. While 30 years ago kids may have been lucky to get a quarter for a lost baby tooth, Tooth Fairy payments have tracked with inflation and according to the latest Delta Dental poll, the average kid received $4.36 per tooth in 2014.
However, simply slipping all the loose change in your pocket under your child’s pillow when they lose a tooth may be missing a valuable opportunity to use the Tooth Fairy to help educate your child about their oral health.
One possible idea is teaching kids that the Tooth Fairy prefers healthy, clean teeth, and making sure they receive more cash from the Tooth Fairy if they’ve been good about brushing and flossing. Another idea is to include a small gift along with or instead of the cash. This gift could be a special kids’ toothbrush or other dental care-related item.
The idea of the Tooth Fairy looking after their teeth can also help make the entire process of losing baby teeth—and potentially also visiting the dentist—less scary for kids.
Have You Scheduled Your Annual Dental Visits Yet?
Speaking of good oral health, have you scheduled all your family’s annual dental visits yet? This preventative dental care is very important for maintaining healthy teeth and gums and preventing tooth loss in the future. To make your appointments, call California Dental Group today.