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Want a toothsome way to track the U.S. economy? Try the Tooth Fairy Index! It tends to follow the S&P 500. In 2019, kids received an average of $3.70 per lost tooth, down from $4.13 the year before. But America’s favorite fairy that flosses still has lots to celebrate in her castle. Parents love her sparkling influence on their tots’ oral health habits and her soothing effect during a major rite of passage — the loss of baby teeth (up to 20 in all).
While it may seem like the Tooth Fairy has been collecting teeth since time immemorial, the ageless pixie with a serious oral fixation didn’t appear in print until a 1908 Chicago Daily Tribune column. Her star truly began to shine in the 1950s, after the “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” magic of the fairy godmother in Disney’s “Cinderella” helped bring fairies to the fore. Countries around the world have long had loss-of-tooth traditions, but the creatures who come for kids’ pearly whites may surprise you:
1. In Brazil, kids toss their teeth outside for the birds. But there’s a catch: Only teeth deemed “clean” will disappear and garner a gift; “dirty” teeth are left behind.
2. In Mexico, Peru, Spain, and in many other Spanish-speaking countries, a spunky mouse named El Raton Pérez (also known as “Ratoncito Pérez”) sneaks under a child’s pillow at night to gather lost teeth and leave a gift. In France, a similar critter, “La Petite Souris” (the little mouse), who dates back to a 17th-century fairy tale, takes teeth along with what else? Fine French cheese. A mouse also claims South African baby teeth, but only if they are snugly left in a bedroom slipper.
3. In a Cherokee Indian tradition, children would circle a home and say four times: “Dâ′yĭ, skĭntă′” (“Beaver, put a new tooth in into my jaw!”).
4. Baby teeth in Greece, Singapore, Taiwan, and Botswana, are launched up to the roof, in hopes that the new teeth will grow in straight and strong.
5. In Egypt, Jordan, and Oman, kids chuck their chompers at the sun, and ask for a bright, shining adult tooth in return.