What does the Tooth Fairy do with all of those teeth?
March 15, 2011 7:58 PM   Subscribe

My daughter wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy tonight asking her what she did with all of the teeth she collected. What should the Tooth Fairy tell her in response?
posted by ColdChef to Society & Culture (81 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
 
She gives them to tiny little babies who don't have any?
posted by Ys at 8:00 PM on March 15, 2011 [20 favorites]


She gives them to tiny little babies who don't have any?

I was going to suggest exactly what Ys already suggested.
posted by fignewton at 8:01 PM on March 15, 2011


Wrap this book up in sparkly paper. I had it when I was little. I don't think I ever believed in the tooth fairy (I was an obnoxiously skeptical child), but my mom tried to keep up the ruse for years. The book has really adorable illustrations and, if I remember correctly, was pretty funny.
posted by phunniemee at 8:02 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like the idea of recycling -- maybe magically smwooshes the tiny little teeth into awesome new teeth for some nice senior citizen person.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:03 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was going to say the same thing as YS, but I just think it's too at variance with what you want to teach kids about biology (while still being non-scientific about the tooth fairy, etc.) that I would instead say something to the effect that she keeps them to remind her of all the children when they grow up and don't leave their teeth for her anymore.
posted by Dasein at 8:03 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


For some reason, my daughter just assumed she used them to make her maracas.
posted by ewagoner at 8:03 PM on March 15, 2011 [48 favorites]


She takes them to her lab, gives them a shine and a general tuneup, makes them bigger, and later returns them to you as adult teeth.
posted by ORthey at 8:04 PM on March 15, 2011 [19 favorites]


I take back my comment and endorse ewagoner's.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:05 PM on March 15, 2011


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2rpYYUEExU
posted by Consult The Oracle at 8:05 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


She builds her castle out of them.
posted by amro at 8:06 PM on March 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


Like amro, I just sort-of pictured the Tooth Fairy living in a giant castle made of tiny teeth.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:08 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I always thought the Tooth Fairy collected all the teeth and ground them up to make Altoids.
posted by zephyr_words at 8:08 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


They are recruited into the war against Xur and the KoDan Armada the Cavity Creeps.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:09 PM on March 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Did you check the awesome tooth fairy askme?
posted by shothotbot at 8:09 PM on March 15, 2011


She disperses the teeth back into the grasses that milk cows eat so the hydroxyapatite gets reused.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:11 PM on March 15, 2011


I asked this question as a child. The tooth fairy was always really nice to me - even if she forgot for the first few days to exchange money for tooth, my mother assured me that I was on her schedule and lots of children lose teeth so I should be patient. And she left "fairy dust" that looked a lot like glitter all over my bed when she visited. But, when I asked her what she did with the teeth, she told me that little children didn't need to know, it was much too scary, and I should never ask again. But I should also wonder where old people got their fake teeth from. I loved it!

Also, my parents didn't encourage any religious magical things (like Santa, Easter Bunnies, etc) in my childhood but they kept up the Tooth Fairy for a long long time.
posted by hepta at 8:17 PM on March 15, 2011 [14 favorites]


My daughter wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy tonight asking her what she did with all of the teeth she collected.

A word of warning: my daughter wrote notes to the Tooth Fairy every time she lost a tooth, and her Tooth Fairy would always take the note and leave a response of her own. I saved all of my daughter's notes, of course, and tucked them into one of her baby books. Months later, she gets it in her head to read her baby books, and find the notes that were supposedly taken by the Tooth Fairy. Disaster. The tooth fairy is clearly not real, and the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus fall like dominoes in quick succession. Hide those notes well, Cold Chef!

And, yes, she needs the teeth to give them to babies. Of course, it's not a one-to-one thing, she's not actually cramming the teeth into the babies heads, it's just that she needs the magic of the lost teeth to create the new teeth.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:18 PM on March 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


"They go into the Tooth Truck. Someday, if you're very very good, you might just see the Tooth Truck on the highway!"
posted by Greg Nog at 8:18 PM on March 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


It should be noted that the delightful book that phunniemee links to has an entire spread of fairies shaking tooth maracas.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:21 PM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's fairy thing. She wouldn't understand.
posted by Sara Anne at 8:21 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid, I understood that the Tooth Fairy lived in a castle made of teeth.

...which is moderately disturbing, come to think of it.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 8:22 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thirding the extravagant tooth castle hypothesis. It's not terribly creative (I was a very straight-laced child), but it's what I believed.

Also, my mom kept them all so now I have a bag full of my itty bitty, rotting away teeth. It's not as gross as it sounds.
posted by lesli212 at 8:23 PM on March 15, 2011


Upon googling, it seems the tooth castle idea was utilized in Arthur. But I'm too old for Arthur, so maybe we got it from the same place?
posted by lesli212 at 8:25 PM on March 15, 2011


They're ground up to make magical fairy dust for all the fairies.
posted by Taurid at 8:27 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, ocherdraco. That's one mystery solved. Thanks!
posted by ewagoner at 8:29 PM on March 15, 2011


Also, previously. More tooth castles and baby tooth donations.
posted by lesli212 at 8:30 PM on March 15, 2011


She barters them away with the Finger Fairy. You never heard of the Finger Fairy? He's not as well known as the Tooth Fairy, and there's a good reason for that....

Good night, honey! Sleep tight!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:34 PM on March 15, 2011 [15 favorites]


She collects them for the tooth fairy union dues.
posted by casarkos at 8:34 PM on March 15, 2011


Medical research, of course!
posted by ErWenn at 8:34 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I told my kids they were recycled as baby teeth again but they didn't like that idea, so our tooth fairy makes necklaces and gives them to the other fairies.
posted by tracicle at 8:36 PM on March 15, 2011


They're used to put in spray paint cans so they rattle when you shake them.

Duh.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:38 PM on March 15, 2011 [20 favorites]


When my sister asked the tooth fairy where my teeth were going, the really tiny response (left on a paper the size of a postage stamp) was "What do you think I do with them?" I don't remember what my sister replied, but I remember my parents finding it incredibly comical at the kitchen table later that day.
posted by skyl1n3 at 8:39 PM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think the Tooth Fairy should tell her that it's a secret!

Whatever you do, the response has to be in teeny tiny writing on teeny paper! Preferably with glitter!
posted by radioamy at 8:42 PM on March 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


where do you guys think dentures come from?
posted by sexyrobot at 8:43 PM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Extract stem cells from them.
The tooth fairy has nothing on Jim Curtis. As head of BioEden, Curtis runs the only company in the UK to extract and store stem cells from children's milk teeth. Instead of putting them under the pillow, parents like Ian Kidd send their kids' baby teeth off to BioEden's Cheshire labs to provide an "insurance policy" against their family's future ill-health.
from "Milk teeth: Cure-all or fairy tale?"
posted by orthogonality at 8:55 PM on March 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I lost my first tooth, I woke up the next morning to find a quarter and a drawing of a huge ogre head with dripping fangs and tiny wings with the caption: The Tooth Fairy has struck!

Every subsequent tooth I lost had a plea for" no struck note". Some of them were pasted into my baby book and some were left in the envelopes I put under my pillow.

I no longer want anything to do with my mother. This is one of the myriad reasons why.
posted by brujita at 9:01 PM on March 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


My daughter also knows, somehow, that teeth recovered are used in maracas.

Slarty Bartfast writes "They're used to put in spray paint cans so they rattle when you shake them."

If a) you have spray paint in your house and b) your daughter is as mercenary about money as mine you might not want to use this one.
posted by Mitheral at 9:13 PM on March 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think the Tooth Fairy should tell her that it's a secret!

That's the exact answer I got when I left a note for the Tooth Fairy asking "are you a boy or a girl?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:14 PM on March 15, 2011


She takes them into the night sky where they become stars. This is why it's very important to brush your teeth.

(Bonus for nephews and nieces you don't like: dirty teeth become asteroids, and one day, when you're asleep, they might crash into the planet and kill us all, just like the dinosaurs.)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:22 PM on March 15, 2011 [16 favorites]


She sells them on eBay.
posted by mazola at 9:23 PM on March 15, 2011


Growing up, we didn't have a tooth fairy in my house. My parents told us it was a rat. The tooth would go into an envelope under the pillow. In the morning there would be a small hole chewed on one corner of the envelope, tooth was gone, and money left under pillow. My parents claimed that they didn't know what the rat did with the teeth.

This was in New Orleans.
posted by JujuB at 9:36 PM on March 15, 2011 [15 favorites]


She builds a castle / a city out of the teeth...

or

She plants them in the ground, and they become mountains (include a photo of the snow covered alps)
posted by Hot buttered sockpuppets at 9:39 PM on March 15, 2011


Was I the only slightly macabre child who envisioned all those teeth being made into jewelry? (Did I get this from an Edward Gorey story?)
posted by scody at 9:49 PM on March 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


My kid decided on her own that old teeth are given to new babies, probably because she was losing some of her old teeth as her baby play cousin was receiving her first new ones. She actually wrote a book on the subject called, Tooth Fairy Tricks.

You can see some photos here. Please excuse the crap quality. I took them in photobooth.
posted by serazin at 9:49 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid I was ENTIRELY SURE the the tooth fairy was building cities, buildings, houses, etc... with teeth. I can still picture them. Very white and orderly. So, that could be fun?
posted by grapesaresour at 9:54 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tell her the Tooth Fairy takes all those teeth and sells them for $$$ to big corporations and their massive factories (or plants them in her magic organic garden and then later the fairy commune comes together to harvest the fruit for everyone; either is good) and the teeth gets mushed into toothpaste. It's totally logical and also underlines how that's why your kid should brush her teeth more. It's the circle of dental health.
posted by Bwithh at 10:05 PM on March 15, 2011


They're filed down and embedded into the masks that goblins wear to look exactly like the parents of nosy children who ask too many questions, before they eat them alive.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:06 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know where I got this from but I have always had an incredibly vivid image of a sprawling tooth city built to house the thousands of tooth fairies needed for all the world's lost teeth. There's one big head tooth fairy who doesn't actually collect anymore and doles out the quarters, which she sits on a big stack of in a tower. The regular tooth fairies have little peak-roofed houses with chimneys and picket fences all made from orderly stacked teeth and flowers that are striped like toothpaste. The city takes a lot of upkeep - teeth don't last forever!
posted by Mizu at 10:10 PM on March 15, 2011


She doesn't like it to get out, but the Tooth Fairy never learned much money sense when she was a young adult and is in serious debt because her parents, the King and Queen of Tootheltoth, were too busy doing other things and didn't teach her.

Tooth Fairy opened a few too many credit card accounts when she was in her early 20s and went off to Tootheltoth U -- because, hey, when you're in your early 20s, everyone wants to give you a credit card. So she bought some dresses and she bought some shoes and she went on one really regrettable spring cruise to the Caymans, where she met a Dentist Baron named Maurice, whose lavish ways and impeccable fashion chipped away at her self-esteem and sent her into an even more egregious spending frenzy (and an eating disorder!). It only went on from there.

Anywho, she's 37 now, suffocating under the crushing weight of her debt and seeing the effect all those cruise ship bellinis have had on her waist line. She knows she needs to climb out of the hole, pay her debts. In Tootheltoth, teeth are currency. She's resorted to sneaking into the bedrooms of small children and stealing their very teeth from under their very pillows. (She's a fallen woman, yes, but she would never sink to prying them out of their heads.) With these teeth, she might be able to repay her debts and rebuild her life. Maybe she'll be something, finally. Like a real estate agent, or a court reporter.

Moral of the story: Floss your teeth, and pay your credit card bills.

It's possible I'm just bitter because my parents never taught me any money sense.

But I've seen the photographic jokes you play on your kids, ColdChef. I don't feel bad suggesting this.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:19 PM on March 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


I just had a discussion about this with friends. We discuss weird crap. Anyway, we decided that she makes jewelery and uses them to decorate her clothing. Not only do the teeth gleam in the sun, they also rattle when she moves. Our version of the Tooth Fairy was decidedly goth.
posted by fifilaru at 10:33 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


My daughter wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy tonight asking her what she did with all of the teeth she collected. What should the Tooth Fairy tell her in response?

She files them away carefully, with great love and respect for their former owners in an impressive vault built for the sole purpose of housing such treasure. A right of passage from childhood into grownup childhood.
posted by nola at 10:50 PM on March 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Baby teeth make the best props for the fairies' juggling.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:50 PM on March 15, 2011


I would suggest the tooth fairy followed appropriate state guidelines for disposal of biological waste.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:58 PM on March 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


I told my niece that the Tooth Fairy throws them into the sky to make shooting stars.
posted by sarastro at 11:03 PM on March 15, 2011


My tooth fairy never took my teeth, so my son's tooth fairy doesn't either.
posted by girlhacker at 11:08 PM on March 15, 2011


The tooth fairy puts teeth in an old Vicks Vapor Rub bottle and sticks them on top of the fridge because that's where I found mine when my parents sold the house.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:29 PM on March 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


The fairies take your baby teeth and raise them and they grow up to be SHARK TEETH!
posted by furiousthought at 11:47 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


She actually wrote a book on the subject called, Tooth Fairy Tricks.

I love this so much.

I thought the tooth fairy had a workshop, like Santa, where s/he built various items out of teeth. But I didn't think a whole castle made of teeth was realistic. Go figure.
posted by lwb at 11:59 PM on March 15, 2011


they get carved into teeny little bowling pins so the fairies can enjoy a game on their night off
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:05 AM on March 16, 2011


I keep trying to work out "how young is too young to read Hogfather?" but the answer is always "that young". *sigh*
posted by twine42 at 2:32 AM on March 16, 2011


Resolved! Thanks for all of the great answers. Some of you apparently had terrifying childhoods. (Gnawing rats?! Ogres?!)

In the end, my wife wanted to go with something sweet, and I wanted something kind of gross, so we compromised and went with scody's suggestion of "turned them into jewelry." Which is actually pretty terrifying in it's own right.
posted by ColdChef at 3:41 AM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Two bucks?? Man I was lucky if I got a quarter :P That Tooth Fairy was shaftin me!
posted by Glendale at 4:36 AM on March 16, 2011


At least she didn't leave you this note! :D

My suggestion was going to be teeth into stars in the sky... I think there's a children's book out there but I forget the name.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 6:20 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's time to introduce her to Terry Pratchett. The tooth fairy features prominently in Hogfather.
posted by Bruce H. at 6:54 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


She's a very tiny mortician for small deaths of the dental nature.
posted by Phalene at 8:03 AM on March 16, 2011


Did you know, the tooth fairy had to go to Dracula's castle one night to pick up some teeth, and she accidentally nicked herself on a fang and now she's a blood-sucking vampire tooth fairy?

Anyway, goodnight
posted by flabdablet at 8:12 AM on March 16, 2011


The tooth fairy in Fairly Odd Parents has a beautiful castle made of teeth ;)
posted by lemniskate at 8:21 AM on March 16, 2011


My three year-old believes that she grinds the teeth down into 'fairy heroin' to give to bed-goblins in exchange for captured nocturnal kid farts.
posted by Hugobaron at 8:45 AM on March 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Another vote for making a castle out of her teeth. I vividly remember a children's book with a picture of it. (Though her crown was also made of teeth, so I like the jewelry idea too!)
posted by lilac girl at 9:10 AM on March 16, 2011


My kids never asked this. But I vividly remember the time that the tooth Fairy FORGOT to come one night. Junior came down the stairs, probably know the truth, but really wanting to keep the magic going.

"Mom! Dad! The Tooth Fairy didn't come last night! My tooth is still here! What haaaapppeened!?"

Dad: long pause "--Oh! OH! It was an accident! I just heard it on the radio! It was foggy, really foggy and she was flying low, and was hit by a car. She got totally knocked out and couldn't finish collecting teeth last night. Um,it was just a concussion though, she's fine, just got the wind knocked out of her, she's fine! She's fine. Not hardly hurt at all. And she'll definitely be back on the job again tonight."

"OK. I'll put it back under my pillow."

Whew. Crisis averted. My husband is a Good Dad.
posted by SLC Mom at 9:19 AM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hugobaron : My three year-old believes that she grinds the teeth down into 'fairy heroin' to give to bed-goblins in exchange for captured nocturnal kid farts.

My goodness!
posted by SLC Mom at 9:21 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just a thought on the jewelry and horror--something to keep in mind for the future. My mother saved all of our teeth, made them into Christmas ornaments and gave them to us long after the Tooth Fairy stopped existing.

My mom is awesome.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 9:56 AM on March 16, 2011


JujuB, I know you said you were from New Orleans, but is your family Latino/Hispanic? "El ratoncito"--basically, the tooth mouse--is a common myth in Spanish-speaking culture, so your "gnawing rat" isn't as freaky as ColdChef might think.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:07 AM on March 16, 2011


Huh. I always assumed that human baby teeth were up there with eye of newt and toe of frog in terms of being prized ingredients for the faerie's magic spells.
posted by patnasty at 10:14 AM on March 16, 2011


When I lost my first tooth, I woke up the next morning to find a quarter and a drawing of a huge ogre head with dripping fangs and tiny wings with the caption: The Tooth Fairy has struck!
...
I no longer want anything to do with my mother. This is one of the myriad reasons why.
posted by brujita at 9:01 PM on March 15 [7 favorites +]


Well that sounds par for the course, if she was a bruja.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:02 AM on March 16, 2011


A chupahija, actually. ;_-p
posted by brujita at 12:41 PM on March 16, 2011


The castle made of teeth is about as eerie an image as the ship made from dead men's fingernails.
posted by bad grammar at 4:24 PM on March 16, 2011


The Tooth Fairy plants the tooth in her garden and it grows into a copy of you. There's a copy of you that's enslaved by the Tooth Fairy to tend her wicked garden, helping her grow an army of children. You will never be truly free or happy until you liberate your twin.

Goodnight.
posted by Jon-o at 6:35 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


She builds her castle out of them.

YES. It was always assumed Tooth Tower was a real thing.

Plus if you tell her this, you can give her this book later and it'll all MAKE SENSE
posted by The Whelk at 10:01 PM on March 16, 2011


dlugoczaj, my family's ancestors are from 5 different countries, with France leading the pack. Your answer peaked my interest, but not having Latino/Hispanic in the mix, I am now really confused by our rat. Google turned up this blog, Tooth Fairy or Ratoncito,

In France, the “buried” tooth under the pillow is collected by “La Petite Souris,” a little mouse who will exchange the tooth for money or candies.

So my parents were not crazy! Thank you for solving the mystery.
posted by JujuB at 6:31 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know I'm late to the game, but I wrote a similar letter to the Tooth Fairy with the same question when I was a kid. And she responded! She told me that she used all the teeth in sort of a 'rock garden' (but teeth, naturally). So, outdoor decorative purposes (to be clear, the teeth don't grow into a plant.. they're just like pebbles). She must live on a HUGE property, but who am I to question the Tooth Fairy?
posted by Mael Oui at 9:09 PM on March 17, 2011


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