The loss of baby teeth is a rite of passage that every child around the world will go through, but once the tooth has been shed, what do you do with it then? Well, that depends on which country you reside in.
Whether left in a slipper or under the pillow for collection by the tooth fairy or tooth mouse, tossed into the sky or buried, each country has their own myth surrounding this process.
Tooth Fairy and Tooth Mouse
As Disney films began to gain popularity, American families adopted the idea of the tooth fairy – a traditionally European concept – as many of these movies featured kindly fairies which assisted in making wishes come true.
Some countries use the idea of a rat, mouse, rabbit, or squirrel as the collector of shed baby teeth as it’s believed that the little ones will then grow teeth as strong as a rodents.
Toothy Myths from Spanish-Speaking Countries
In Spanish-speaking countries, baby teeth are said to be collected by a rat or mouse known as Ratocinto Perez, El Raton de Los Dientes, Raton Perez, or Perez Mouse. The shed teeth are placed under the child’s pillow and collected in exchange for money or a small gift. In Argentina, children leave the tooth in a glass of water, which the thirsty mouse drinks and then leaves the gift in the glass for the child to find in the morning.
Toothy Myths from France
In France where Geelong Cup betting is popular, as well as Switzerland, Belgium, and Morocco, children leave the tooth under their pillow for La Petite Souris, or the Little Mouse, who leaves money behind upon collection. The origins of this myth aren’t entirely clear, but it’s believed to have originated from a story entitled ‘The Good Little Mouse’.
Toothy Myths from Brazil
Once teeth are shed in Brazil, they are tossed outside by the child in the hopes that it will be collected by a bird. However, the birds of this myth do not accept dirty or damaged teeth, which helps to promote good dental hygiene amongst children in the country. If the tooth is satisfactory, the bird will leave a small gift behind for the child to find.
Toothy Myths from Japan
Shed teeth are also thrown in Japan, but the direction in which they are thrown depends on the type of tooth. If it’s a tooth from the bottom jaw, it’s thrown into the air and if it’s a tooth from the top jaw it is thrown to the ground. The direction in which the tooth is thrown is said to mimic the trajectory that the new tooth would grow out in.
Toothy Myths from Turkey
Children in Turkey are taught that their baby teeth may in fact hold some influence on their future successes. For instance, if the shed tooth is buried near a doctor’s office, the child may grow up to be successful in the medical field or a success in sport if the tooth is buried in a field.