The Baby Teeth Traditions Are Freaking Messed Up

Everyone has their own strange tradition.

Spencer Hicksby Spencer Hicks
Photo: FOX

How much thought have you put into the teeth you lost as a child? Did you put them under your pillow in exchange for money? Were they simply thrown away? Sure, it’s weird to ask people what they did with their teeth, but the more you think about it, the stranger everything becomes. When you were born, you didn’t have any teeth. Over the months you got a set of baby teeth. Those teeth stuck around for a little less than a decade and then just fell out. And apparently your teeth have the same “First In, First Out” practice as most retailers. So if you got front teeth first, those were the first to make you look like a 80’s hockey player when they fell out.

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It seems strange to me that parts of your body fall off to make room for the adult version. Thankfully this only seems to be the case with teeth. It would be horrific if we, as a species, were fine with arms or genitals falling off to make room for the adult versions. Although, I’m still waiting for my adult muscles to come in.

Also, you only get 20 baby teeth. It’s like your mouth is renting a crappy compact car for your childhood. And you can treat those teeth like a rental car! When you get your adult teeth, that’s more like a nice mid-size car you own. Sure, there is going to be a lot of maintenance, but it’ll be the only car you’ll ever own.

And let’s talk about the culture celebrating the loss of your teeth. There are a lot of legends about the origin of the tooth fairy, and all of them are crazy. But we’ll talk about her in a second. Before there was a fairy to take away your teeth in exchange for money, cultures did things like bury them, burn them, throw them into the sky, or onto the ground… basically people in olden times were doing what serial killers do today, getting rid of the evidence.

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In Japan, it was custom to throw your lower teeth straight up, and your bottom teeth straight down. It was believed that doing this would make the incoming teeth grow straight. Which isn’t a terrible idea since braces are expensive. Although kids today will never know the pain of headgear like my generation, thanks to Invis-a-line.

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In Spain, and other Hispanic cultures, they have a mouse, named “Perez,” instead of a tooth fairy.  Perez the mouse is a lot like the tooth fairy, he collects teeth that are placed under a child’s pillow, because having a tooth collecting rodent by your head while you sleep is not at all terrifying. And let’s just hope Perez doesn’t get lazy, and instead of going to all the houses with teeth, just decides to make one stop and take all the teeth out of your head. Perez is a little different in Argentina, instead of having the tooth under a pillow, they put their tooth in a glass of water. Because as we all know, mice love drinking water with random teeth at the bottom.

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

In Mongolia, they would wrap the tooth in fat and feed it to a dog, in the hopes that the new tooth would be as strong as a dog’s teeth. But if that were the case, why not get cooler teeth, like that of a shark or a bear? I mean, dog teeth are cool and everything, but let’s shoot for the stars. It should be noted that you shouldn’t do this today, unless you want to walk around with a toothy turd next time you walk Fido.

There are a lot of crazy beliefs about what to do with baby teeth. Some more messed up than a fairy. But how did America come to decide a fairy is the lie we want to tell our kids? I mean, Santa can be used to blackmail your children into good behavior. So I get that. But how the hell can the Tooth Fairy be used to get a wanted behavior from a child? Some psychologists say it’s a way for children to not be so afraid of losing a tooth. I’m not sure how much you got paid when you lost a tooth, but I only got a quarter. That’s not near enough to subside the fear of losing a tooth. I guess what I’m trying to say is, the Tooth Fairy and all other baby tooth myths don’t serve a purpose and it seems insane if you think too much about it. But like most of our traditions, the Tooth Fairy stemmed from Europeans.

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During the Medieval times, they would burn the teeth so that a witch wouldn’t get their hands on it. Because, as we all know, you can make some pretty kickass potions with baby teeth. There were some other strange habits, but the earliest known incarnation of the “modern” day Tooth Fairy was in 1907. This is the gentle, female, flying, character we think of today. So while you probably haven’t given much thought of the Tooth Fairy, or the history of baby tooth disposal, just know that it’s all a tradition started by people who believed in magic, that we continue to this day!