One of the hallmarks of childhood for many people was getting a visit from the tooth fairy.
Whenever you lost a tooth, you could put it under your pillow or next to your bed.
The next morning, the tooth would be gone and there’d be a bit of money or some other reward in its stead.
You may wonder if the Tooth Fairy was ever real or how they came to be.
Here’s what you need to know about the Tooth Fairy and whether they were ever real.
Is The Tooth Fairy Real?
No, the Tooth Fairy isn’t real.
At least, they aren’t real in the sense that there isn’t an actual fairy who flies into each young child’s room to take their lost teeth.
It is true in the sense that many parents adopt the role to replace lost teeth with money or other rewards.
Although the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, that doesn’t mean the tradition won’t continue for many generations to come.
Where Did The Myth Of The Tooth Fairy Come From?
Since the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, you may wonder how the whole practice got started.
According to one report, the earliest mention of the tooth fairy dates back to 1908.
The Tooth Fairy became a ruse that parents could use to encourage young children to get their teeth pulled.
During that time, getting one’s teeth pulled was a painful process.
They didn’t have the numbing agents that are available today.
As a result, trying to bring a young child to the dentist’s office to get their teeth pulled was quite the affair.
Since leaving a loose or rotting tooth in your mouth isn’t healthy, parents needed a way to encourage their children to visit the dentist.
The legend of the Tooth Fairy emerged.
Parents could now tell their children that if they got their teeth pulled and put the tooth under their pillows, then the Tooth Fairy would come and visit.
They’d take the tooth and give them some money, candy, or some other reward.
Since children could now expect a reward from the Tooth Fairy, braving the dentist’s office became a bit more manageable.
Over the years, getting a tooth pulled became a bit easier at the dentist.
However, by that point, the tradition had become a part of American culture.
What Are The Earliest Roots Of The Tooth Fairy Legend?
While getting a visit from the Tooth Fairy is a relatively modern idea, the legend of the Tooth Fairy is quite ancient.
The word “Tooth Fairy” gets its origin from early European tradition.
“Tand Fe” translates to Tooth Fairy in Norse.
They believed that a young child’s tooth could bring luck.
When the Vikings would go off to battle, some of them would have necklaces or bracelets made from their children’s teeth.
They believed it would bring them luck and valor in battle.
Some would also bury the lost teeth to ensure that their child would grow up without hardships.
Clearly, there has always been some sort of relationship with baby teeth in human culture.
Many see losing one’s baby teeth as a rite of passage.
It symbolizes growth and change.
Even if a child no longer believes in the Tooth Fairy, it’s a practice that they might participate in someday if they ever have their own children.
How To Tell Your Child The Tooth Fairy Isn’t Real
At some point, your child might ask you if the Tooth Fairy is real.
When that happens, you may be unsure of how to answer.
It’s a question as loaded and impactful as telling them that Santa Claus isn’t real.
Since it tears a bit more of their innocence from them, you may wonder how best to proceed with the answer.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you tell your child that the Tooth Fairy isn’t real.
1. Determine Their Age Appropriateness
One of the first things you need to do before answering your child is to consider their age and choose the level of appropriateness accordingly.
For example, if your child is still quite young, then you might want to answer in the affirmative that the Tooth Fairy is real.
Since they’re young, they likely still believe in magical things like the Tooth Fairy.
It’s okay to let them believe a bit longer.
It also helps avoid any problems at school.
For example, if you tell your young child that the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, then they might go to school and tell their classmates.
Suddenly, you have a lot of upset parents and young children on your hands.
It might be better to wait until your child is a bit older to tell them the truth.
On the other hand, if your child is older, then it may be time to come clean.
If your child is in middle school, for example, and still believes that the Tooth Fairy is real, then they could become subject to bullying and teasing from the other students.
As much as you might like them to hold onto their innocence, for their protection, it might be best to tell them the truth.
Before you answer, however, determine how age-appropriate your answer should be.
2. Ask Their Opinion
Another thing you should do before answering is to get their opinion on the matter.
You can let your child steer the conversation instead.
This might make breaking the truth to them a bit easier if they already suspect it.
For example, you might ask them what they think.
You can ask them if they think the Tooth Fairy is real or not.
If they answer that they do believe the Tooth Fairy is real, then you can determine if it’s time to tell them the truth or if you can keep up with the ruse a bit longer.
If they answer that they don’t believe the Tooth Fairy is real, then you can ask them why they think that.
If they present a logical explanation, then confirming their suspicions will be easier for you.
You can make it seem as though you’re complimenting them for their intelligence and deductive abilities to cover up the fact that you’ve been lying to them for several years.
Letting your child steer the conversation and getting their opinion can help you ensure they’re not hurt by the truth.
3. Be Gentle With Your Answers
Even if your child is quite sure that the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, any answer that you give may still rattle them.
You’re essentially giving them a truth that’s going to distort their understanding of the world.
For many years of their life, they were sure that a fairy was creeping into their room and leaving them money.
It can cause a sort of reality check or adjustment that might make them spiral.
For example, they might start to think that the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus aren’t real either.
It can be devastating depending on the age of your child.
To avoid a complete loss of faith in everything magical, you’ll want to be careful and gentle with your answer.
It’s a good idea to explain that it’s a tradition that many parents value.
You might even suggest that if they have kids one day that they might take on the role of the Tooth Fairy, too.
Instead of saying that the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, you might say instead that the Tooth Fairy exists in every parent.
You can then soften the blow further by reminding your child about the fun they had seeing the money or reward where the tooth used to be.
This helps them feel a bit more like they’re in on the secret.
You might even suggest that they help you with your Tooth Fairy obligations if you have other younger children.
By being part of the ruse, the sting of reality won’t bite as hard.
Most importantly, remember to be slow and gentle with your response.
In some senses, you’re basically changing their perspective of the world.
4. Be Patient With Their Response
After you tell them the truth, it’s understandable if your child becomes distraught or angry.
They may cry as they mourn a lost piece of innocence.
They might not even understand why they’re sad.
They may be angry at you.
It’s possible that they may even perceive the ruse as a lie.
They may feel as though you were tricking them and have a negative response.
As a parent, you should be patient with them, regardless of how they react.
Let them work through their emotions.
The best thing you can do is affirm your love for them and assure them that you didn’t intend to harm them.
It’s all just a bit of fun for everyone and fun that they can have when they become older and have children, too.
The worst thing you can do is make them feel as though their feelings aren’t valid.
They shouldn’t feel as though the way they feel about the situation doesn’t matter.
It’s a significant moment in their lives.
It does matter.
By being patient and reminding them that everything comes from a place of love, you can respond to your child in the best way possible.
5. Encourage Them To Keep The Secret
Another thing you can do after you tell them the truth is to encourage them to keep the secret.
One of the first things your child might want to do is tell the others that the Tooth Fairy isn’t real.
If the others are younger, then you should try to keep your child from spoiling the experience for them.
This might be difficult for your child to understand since they might view withholding their newfound information as lying.
You can explain to them that every child should get to experience the Tooth Fairy for a few years before joining the game.
In fact, you can even suggest that they help you with your Tooth Fairy duties.
Those duties should go beyond replacing lost teeth with money.
For example, another role of the Tooth Fairy should be to encourage everyone to follow healthy oral habits.
You can put your child in charge of ensuring everyone brushes their teeth twice a day.
Otherwise, the Tooth Fairy might not give them money for their rotten teeth.
You can also encourage them to keep their eye on the younger children.
If younger siblings lose a tooth but don’t tell anyone about it, then it will be up to the older child to find out.
Some children might choose to hide their teeth to test if the Tooth Fairy is real or not.
If you have a child working on the inside, then they can spy and make you aware of any teeth that the younger children lose.
Finally, you can invite the older child to your late-night tooth exchanges.
By participating in the secret, your child is more likely to keep it a secret and feel good about the situation.
6. Reinforce Good Oral Health
After telling your child the truth about the Tooth Fairy, it’s also an ideal time to reinforce the importance of good oral health.
You can explain to them the reasoning behind the money that they received.
For example, because they took such good care of their teeth, they were able to get some money in return.
You can tell them that they can continue to earn money if they keep taking care of their teeth.
If they have more baby teeth to lose, for example, then they can still expect to wake up with some money for the lost tooth provided that the tooth isn’t rotten.
This encourages the child to keep brushing their teeth and flossing to ensure they still get money or some form of reward.
If the child already lost all their baby teeth, then you can tie the reward to something else.
A good report from the dentist, for example, is a great replacement.
It encourages the child to continue to practice good oral habits.
You might even choose to reward them each year if they have all their adult teeth.
The goal now becomes to hold onto your adult teeth for as long as possible.
Each year, you can pay them a dollar for each healthy tooth that they still have.
Children who want to earn as much money as possible will need to follow healthy oral habits to ensure their teeth don’t rot and fall out or need pulling.
By reinforcing healthy oral habits when answering questions about the Tooth Fairy, you can set your child up for a healthy future.
7. Make Them Part Of The Tradition
A final thing you should do when your child asks whether the Tooth Fairy is real or not is to make them part of the tradition.
A child may feel a little unsure of themselves when you reveal the truth.
To give them a bit of ground to cling to, you can make them part of the tradition.
Another problem that your might child may face is a feeling of abandonment.
This is especially true in households with other younger children.
The child may feel as though they’re left out when their siblings get money for lost teeth but they don’t.
It’s important that you reassure them that they will still get a reward of some kind for lost teeth.
You may choose to mix that reward up.
Instead of a visit from a Tooth Fairy, for example, you might treat them to their favorite meal whenever they lose a tooth.
Or they might get their favorite dessert.
By changing the reward system and making them a part of the tradition, you can soften the blow of the truth.
How Much Money Should The Tooth Fairy Leave?
If you’re just starting out being the Tooth Fairy, you may wonder how much money you should be leaving for each tooth.
This is largely dependent on your budget.
You shouldn’t be giving your child hundreds of dollars for each missing tooth.
Yet, it should be an amount that makes losing teeth feel special.
It also depends on whether you pay your children for chores.
If you do pay them for chores, then you might want to make the amount that you give for lost teeth close to what they earn for chores—if not a little bit more.
If you don’t, then you can go a little cheaper.
As long as you aren’t hurting yourself financially by giving your child money for lost teeth, then you’re giving the perfect amount of money.
While the Tooth Fairy isn’t real, it is a practice that has been around for some time.
Although modern traditions are relatively new and different than what occurred in the past, myths and legends surrounding baby teeth and giving rewards for them have been around for centuries.
When it comes to answering your child’s question about whether the Tooth Fairy is real, you can use the tips and suggestions listed above to answer them as best as possible.