Learn the origins of the Tooth Fairy and just how much the average American baby tooth is worth according to today’s parents.

The mystery of the origin of the tooth fairy has baffled many Americans for years. Even the American Dental Association was once at a loss as to where the Tooth Fairy came from. Just why were American children being encouraged to leave their lost baby teeth under the pillow in exchange for money? To many outsiders, this would seem a very odd tradition.

In the 1970s, Northwestern University Dental School professor Rosemary Wells tried to crack this mystery. She discovered that our Tooth Fairy is actually a unique blend of two international figures: the Russian/French/New Zealand/Mexican mouse that traditionally does the tooth-for-cash exchange and the beloved European fairy who makes wishes come true. An interesting fact is that parents actually prayed to the former mouse in hopes that he would help their children grow equally strong rodent teeth.

But why would we need a Tooth Fairy in the first place? Wells attributes that losing a tooth is a traumatic experience for any child; exchanging money for a new gap in a little one’s smile is a way of softening the experience. Children are also taught the value of money as it is a distinctly American tradition to reward each tooth loss, rather than just the first one.

It’s probably not surprising then that The Tooth Fairy is not going anywhere soon. According to Well’s survey, 97% of parents hold positive or neutral feelings toward her. A recent Visa® Tooth Fairy survey also found that the going rate per tooth is more than .70, which is up 23% from 2012, and 42% up from 2011.

Boy with Tooth fairy

We at The Smile Generation® did our own 2014 Tooth Fairy Facebook poll to see how much money our fans are leaving behind for their children’s teeth – they reported as the average going rate. That’s around 35% higher than reported in Visa’s study. To participate in future polls, giveaways and sweepstakes follow The Smile Generation Facebook page.

Image courtesy of Visa, Inc. Image courtesy of Visa, Inc.