The Tooth Fairy
December 10, 2007 11:25 AM   Subscribe

My 6 yr. old son just lost his first tooth. He now expects a "tooth fairy" because his Brittish dad told him. I'm Dutch and have no idea. Help me out to answer some of his questions.

Elliot's dad and me are still very good friends, but he could not tell me more about this fairy then that she comes at night and takes the tooth from under his pillow and replaces it with a coin. So I have a coin (is 2 Euro a fair price for a tooth?), but also a son who likes to question everything now. I looked up the wiki, but it does not tell me much more. What does she look like? Why does she like teeth? How big is she? Where does she live? What am I suppose to do with the tooth? He likes to show it off to everybody, will it be gone for good? I would like to put the tooth in a ring to wear, can I only do this now after he stops believing?
posted by kudzu to Human Relations (67 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
No real fairy myth to access - it's just the excuse for the mysterious replacement of the tooth with money. And 2 E is fine. Showing the tooth again might be difficult though... the fairy has it.
posted by A189Nut at 11:27 AM on December 10, 2007

I don't think there's really anything set in stone here. Usually the "fairy" takes the tooth and keeps it for good. If he wants to keep it, help him compose a note to the "tooth fairy" asking her to leave his tooth behind so he can continue showing it off. I'm sure she'll understand.
posted by inconsequentialist at 11:29 AM on December 10, 2007 [2 favorites]

First of all, for all of the technical questions about who the tooth fairy is and where she lives and whatnot, you get to make all of that up. That's the fun part, use your imagination.

As far as what to do with the tooth, almost everyone takes away the tooth and does not give it back to the child. A lot of people save the teeth, but I think that's somewhat gross. This page discusses these issues in more detail.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:33 AM on December 10, 2007

Best answer: What does she look like?
You average fairy, with butterfly wings, a wand with a large tooth on the end, and maybe some pointy elf ears.

Why does she like teeth?
Good question! It is her nature to like them, I would guess.

How big is she?
I would wager about the same size as your son.

Where does she live?
Got me there; no idea. Probably in a large tooth shaped house.

What am I suppose to do with the tooth?
My wife has the first one on a sentiment box somewhere; the rest were tossed.

He likes to show it off to everybody, will it be gone for good?
Generally yes.

I would like to put the tooth in a ring to wear, can I only do this now after he stops believing?
posted by Brocktoon at 11:36 AM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

My mom would have us put the tooth in a sealed envelope under the pillow, because a loose tooth under a pillow is easy to lose. Then the envelope disappears and a coin appears in its place.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:36 AM on December 10, 2007

Seconding the envelope.
posted by k8t at 11:38 AM on December 10, 2007

My parents told me that she looked like the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio. But it's all about the mystery. Be vague. You'll find ways to make it work.

When I was about four I lost my tooth when I was washing it off in the sink. I was devastated that the tooth fairy wasn't coming. The next morning I had my money and a teeny tiny note under my pillow from the tooth fairy explaining that the 'sink fairy' had given her the tooth. It took me years to find out that my dad had his secretary with beautiful handwriting write the note and then shrink it on the copier. Mystery. It's all about the mystery.
posted by sephira at 11:39 AM on December 10, 2007 [31 favorites]

Or you can fashion a little tooth fairy pillow or felt piece with a little pocket in it. Then that becomes the ritual for each tooth!
posted by barnone at 11:40 AM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh the tooth fairy! I think it's much less established as a cultural myth than things like Santa Claus; as far as I know there's no iconic image of the tooth fairy. It's also just a fun thing; we never 'believed' in the tooth fairy as kids in my household, we always knew it was mom, but the baby teeth still went under the pillow.

Now that I think of it, I can't imagine a non-creepy story for why there's a fairy that collects children's baby teeth...!

I think leaving the tooth fairy a note about keeping the tooth is a good idea - also, I think sometimes the tooth fairy left notes in addition to money, along the lines of how cool it is that we're growing up, etc.

This is a surprisingly hard question! and kind of points out how much, like your son's father, I grew up with the tooth fairy being such a normal concept that I've never thought about it at all.
posted by Salamandrous at 11:40 AM on December 10, 2007

Best answer: Make up whatever you want, but:

What does she look like?

Like a tiny ballerina with dragonfly wings and a wand with a star on the end.

Why does she like teeth?

Possible reasons include:

*She is bonkers. ISTR Family Guy having a pervert tooth fairy who rolled around in his underpants on a pile of teeth.

*She doesn't. It's just a job, and one she doesn't like very much. Thank you for pointing that out; would you like to rub some lemon juice into the wound maybe?

*She needs teeth to live.

*She has serious dental problems and has to constantly replace her teeth with new ones whittled from the teeth of children.

*She doesn't. She just likes making little kids happy.

*She sells them to Amalgamated Teeth of Fairyland, Inc, for big, big money. Amalgamated Teeth uses them to build nose cones for thermonuclear missiles.

How big is she?


Where does she live?


What am I suppose to do with the tooth? He likes to show it off to everybody, will it be gone for good?

Normally she keeps it, but she liked your son's tooth SOOO MUUUCH that she thought he should keep it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:42 AM on December 10, 2007 [7 favorites]

"I don't know; she just does" was my response to all tooth-fairy related questions from my daughter (who, by the way, got a dollar for each tooth).
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:43 AM on December 10, 2007

I'm not sure there are any fixed answers to your questions! It's an underspecified tradition as these things go. Snopes doesn't have all that much to add either.

So long as he leaves the tooth under his pillow and it gets replaced by a coin of some sort, you'll have ticked all the relevant boxes. You're completely at liberty to have the tooth fairy 'give' the tooth to you in a side transaction so you can do something with it if that's what you want to do.
posted by pharm at 11:44 AM on December 10, 2007

You may or may not know this already, but the tooth fairy is supposed to come every time a tooth is lost, not just for the first one.

Also, I think I used to get a US quarter (25 cents, enough for a gumball or something similar) per tooth. 2 Euro sounds spectacularly generous to me, but I suppose there's probably been some inflation since I was losing teeth in the early 80s. Or maybe my fairy was just cheap. :P
posted by vytae at 11:45 AM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think we had a book about the tooth fairy when I was young, and a little tiny box to put our teeth in under the pillow.

A search on Amazon turns up several books, and even a kit.
posted by entropic at 11:46 AM on December 10, 2007

Feel free to go nuts on this one. It really doesn't matter how you answer his questions. Like someone said before, the tooth fairy isn't like Santa or even the Easter Bunny. It's just some fairy that takes your teeth and gives you money. Parents can basicallly say whatever they want other than that.
2 Euros is more than fair for a tooth.
posted by fructose at 11:47 AM on December 10, 2007

To be honest, I feel that the tooth fairy is what you wish to make it. I am American and once believed in the tooth fairy as well. Although, this didn't last for long; I lost a tooth and didn't tell my parents on purpose to see if she was really real or not. BUT, I think the idea behind the tooth fairy is so that losing teeth is not as scary or awkward for children of that age. Once they are old enough that they no longer believe, they are old enough to not be fearful of missing teeth and sometimes the slight pain that accompanies. It can be rewarding and motivation for a child to wiggle that last bit of tooth away rather than a potential choking because they are scared of the tooth coming out in which case it gets stuck in food while eating and so on.

To properly answer your question... I always thought the tooth fairy was blonde....somewhat angelic... But this would differ depending on your ethnicity (I'm blonde and caucasian). I also thought she was human size but maybe somewhat like a tinkerbell that flew in small form (she gets in through the window) and then got bigger when she landed. From there, if you are getting many more questions, you could say that she takes the teeth to her tooth garden where they grow beautiful white flowers...and only the healthiest of teeth grow the prettiest and fullest flowers (lovely inspiration to brush well). You could even tell a story of how there are different tooth fairies for different children and then they have an annual tooth flower contest, the fairy with the prettiest most brilliant flower wins a crown for the whole year. They, of course, live in the magical world that is only accessible to other magical creatures like the easter bunny and St. Nick. Then, in this circumstance, I would say the tooth is gone for good....

OR, if you want him to be able to keep the tooth, then have her a tooth inspection fairy that makes sure the little boys and girls brush their teeth well..... So, she comes at night to check on them and if they are very clean and they did a good job, she leaves money.... The better the teeth, the more is left. She could be commissioned by Santa in lieu of making sure that the children are nice and doing a good job taking care of themselves during the year while santa is away.

As far as I know, there isn't much to the story and anything that you told him that he repeated would not be very strongly contradicted. Or at least not more so than normal children debating on who knows what and where they heard their details.

I could continue with these ideas, I'm truly still a child inside.... Can't wait to have children of my own. But, hopefully this will be helpful as is. :-)
posted by NotInTheBox at 11:48 AM on December 10, 2007 [3 favorites]

If he likes to show the tooth off to everybody, he's going to have to keep it which means he doesn't stick it under his pillow and the tooth fairy does not pay him for it. If he wants money for it he sticks it under his pillow and wakes up with (and thiis is important) HOWEVER MUCH YOU FEEL LIKE GIVING HIM in the place of his pillow the next morning. There is almost no value in the tooth fairy myth except to make the kid feel a little better about the massive gap in his face till his adult teeth grow in. there isn't a fair market value on teeth and if kids talk about how much the tooth fairy gave them in school there might be some jealousy or whatever but it lasts about 4 seconds and they forget about it within a day.

now, I'm 28 so maybe the currency amount will be way off but this was my tooth fairy experience as a kid:

1. lose a tooth.
2. told the tooth fairy will give me a quarter for it (I'm american, sorry for any exchange rate confusion) if I stick it under my pillow.
3. me: WHA?!?!?!?!
4. them: it's true! try it out!
5. put tooth under pillow, never see it again. as I said, I'm 28 and I've never had a baby tooth given back to me and if I did I wouldn't want it. Maybe my parents have it in a box labeled "creepy baby nostalgia." I don't know.
6. found a quarter in its place the next morning.
7. ran downstairs filled with questions, screaming about the tooth fairy and her awesomeness.
8. was told she was very beautiful but no one knows exactly what she looks like. she might have wings and a wand! who knows! but, like santa, she doesn't come for little boys (or girls) who stay awake to watch for her. she's if you're sleeping and awake, etc... no one knows what she does with the teeth, but the money is for being so good about losing a tooth. it's really all up to you so long as the end result is "behave yourself" and "she won't come if you stay awake to watch for her." (this last is so that he doesn't catch you stealing his teeth in the future.)

Personally, I plan to tell my kids that the teeth are taken by Dick Cheney to be made into bullets and that the money is for them to keep their mouths shut. but your mileage may vary.

I'd imagine that you shouldn't wear the tooth until he grows out of it, but I suppose that's up to you. For myself, once I found out about santa being fake the tooth fairy just stopped visiting.
posted by shmegegge at 11:49 AM on December 10, 2007 [4 favorites]

I've found having the kid place the tooth into an enclosure (we use a small drawstring bag; an envelope would work well too) and having the cash ready nearby in an *identical* enclosure makes the mid-night swap go a lot smoother for parents who aren't quite all awake themselves.

There's a really cool children's book which both you and your son will enjoy called Throw Your Tooth on the Roof that's about folk traditions of baby teeth around the world (making them into jewelry is a not-uncommon tradition).
posted by jamaro at 11:51 AM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

vytae, I think your tooth fairy and mine were on the same budget. For the last tooth, though, I do remember we got a silver dollar or a Susan B Anthony. For my 6yr old son, we started with a dollar. Not sure what we'll do for the last one.
posted by onhazier at 11:52 AM on December 10, 2007

I always use the Urban Legend method for similar stuff. "I heard from a cousin that she has a castle made of children's teeth, but my dad said that she turns them into stars. I've never seen her myself. I just know when I was a kid, the teeth disappeared. Sometimes there was more money, sometimes less. Let's rig up a camera to try to take a picture!"

Next morning:
"You got $10? Not bad. Awww. The camera didn't catch anything. It's just all blurry. Stupid fairy mode doesn't work, I guess."
posted by Gucky at 11:54 AM on December 10, 2007 [2 favorites]

At my house, all the magic people like Santa, the Easter bunny, the pacifier fairy* and the tooth fairy all live in the same neighborhood in the north pole. The tooth fairy gives enough to buy a favorite treat.

*The pacifier fairy. OK. She had a pacifier until she was four, because we are bad parents. So then what do you do? Well if you are four, you mail your pacifiers to the pacifier fairy (1 Fairy Lane, North Pole) and by the time you get back from the post office she has left you a princess dress.

posted by shothotbot at 12:03 PM on December 10, 2007 [23 favorites]

I got little letters from the Tooth Fairy as well, written on fairy paper, thanking me for the tooth, apologising that I only got silly old useless money in return and promising to keep it very, very safe for me.
posted by bonaldi at 12:06 PM on December 10, 2007

The tooth fairy kept up a correspondence with our daughter for years. She lived in a castle made of teeth in the woods behind our house. There were many tooth fairies - they were only reponsible for the teeth in their area. Some were city fairies, some were country fairies. They had larger gatherings sometimes, the Council of the Tooth Fairies. They were quite small and were friends to the animals. I kept the letters from the tooth fairy to my daughter and the ones from my daughter to the tooth fairy. This is one place where you can let your imagination run wild.
posted by clarkstonian at 12:11 PM on December 10, 2007 [4 favorites]

One of my stepdaughters got a book from a family friend about the Tooth Fairy that included a concept that I LOVED: namely, that the Tooth Fairy was able to assume any number of guises so that if a kid woke up and caught the Tooth Fairy in the act, she would look just like the kid's parent and the kid wouldn't be freaked out by seeing a stranger in his/her room (and the parent, thereby, could perform the fairy role safely while maintaining innocent child-belief). I was always vaguely worried that I'd wake up my kids while playing tooth fairy, so this notion made me feel much better. (I never believe that I would sleep through someone lifting up my pillow in the middle of the night, but my kids sleep like rocks, and so far that hasn't happened.)

Also seconding the recommendation of Throw Your Tooth on the Roof, cited above by jamaro. That book's fun (I can't remember if it has any references to Dutch tooth traditions--are there any?)
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:12 PM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

What am I suppose to do with the tooth? He likes to show it off to everybody, will it be gone for good?

Normally she keeps it, but she liked your son's tooth SOOO MUUUCH that she thought he should keep it.

I got little letters from the Tooth Fairy as well, written on fairy paper....

How about a letter from the Tooth Fairy to you and/ or to Elliot which explains why she is returning the tooth?
posted by ericb at 12:23 PM on December 10, 2007

Our dentist has a second number with a recording from the tooth fairy that my daughter called to listen to. (Check with a dentist who only sees children.) My daughter wanted to save her first tooth, so she wrote a note, which the fairy replied to in very small print and left the tooth behind. Not having seen the actual fairy myself, I couldn't really answer the questions about her. You could get your son to write asking to leave the tooth so that you can have it made into the ring, which of course, she will, if he asks nicely! The tooth fairy leaves a dollar at my house, but more when the tooth had to be pulled early due to infection. (Pain and suffering payment!)

Good luck!

wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 12:25 PM on December 10, 2007

My mom would have us put the tooth in a sealed envelope under the pillow, because a loose tooth under a pillow is easy to lose. Then the envelope disappears and a coin appears in its place.

As children, I and my siblings left teeth in a glass of water on the dresser. In the morning there were coins "all by magic" in place of the tooth in the glass still full of water. I'm sure it was insurance for not being awakened by an adult hand fishing under the pillow.
posted by ericb at 12:25 PM on December 10, 2007 [2 favorites]

Ah, the tooth fairy. My parents were VERY into this, since my dad is a dentist. I used to get little notes from the fairy and eventually realized she had the same handwriting as my dad! My parents kept the accusing notes I wrote as I gradually stopped believing ("Dear Tooth Fairy: You are a fake! You have the same writing as my dad!" etc.) They also kept all of my baby teeth (and my sibs') in little boxes, and when I lost the last one, I got a gold necklace with a tooth-shaped charm. I still love that necklace and wore it when I dressed as the tooth fairy last year for Halloween! (I wore a black and pink tutu skirt and a black top and carried a velvet bag full of stuff that clanked together to sound like teeth.)
posted by leesh at 12:28 PM on December 10, 2007 [4 favorites]

Nobody knows what the tooth fairy looks like! If anyone saw her, she would disappear and not take the tooth or leave money!

Everyone knows that.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:34 PM on December 10, 2007

Well I think everyone has done a good job at explaining it. Have fun!

If your kid keeps asking questions and you don't have answers, turn it around: "Well, why do you think she comes?"

I always got a silver dollar or half-dollar or some other semi-rare coin (in the States these are not regularly circulated anymore).
posted by radioamy at 12:38 PM on December 10, 2007

Thorzdad, it can get even worse. Read The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce. (it's an excellent read, btw!)
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 12:40 PM on December 10, 2007

(All this reminds me of the This American Life bit where a woman tells the story about how she thought the Tooth Fairy was her friends' dad. Ahh yes -- the beginning of this episode.)
posted by brain cloud at 12:40 PM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think it was comedian Lilly Tomlin, as her character 5 and half year old Edith Ann, who described the tooth fairy as riding a tiny motorcycle across the bed to exchange the tooth for money. So make up whatever story you want. As long as there is money in place of a tooth, your child will be thrilled.

For my daughter's first tooth, I wrote a letter signed by the tooth fairy. I placed the letter and a $5 bill (bad precedent!) in a zip lock bag, along with the tooth and put it under her pillow. The letter mentioned that since it was her first tooth, she got to keep it. The letter and tooth (not the $5!) are still in the bag and stored with our photo albums.

Oh, and a cute Tooth Fairy themed movie is Toothless. Ignore the mediocre critical rating; it's fun and kids love it.
posted by The Deej at 12:41 PM on December 10, 2007

I would say:

"Nobody knows! Why don't you draw me a picture?"
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:50 PM on December 10, 2007

My mom took a little pillow and sewed a tiny little pocket on it. When we lost a tooth, we'd put it in the little pillow. In the morning there would be a 50cent piece in there.
posted by sanka at 12:56 PM on December 10, 2007

i had a little tooth pillow with a tiny pocket that was just the right size for a coin. tooth went into the pocket, coin came out in the morning. you and elliott could make a tooth pillow out of felt if you were feeling crafty. just make a little square pocket on the back (sew on a flat square with small stitches along 3 sides) for the tooth, and away you go.
i love the fact that the tooth fairy is so amorphous and different for each family- i'd never thought about that before. fun!
posted by twistofrhyme at 12:58 PM on December 10, 2007

I had a book about the tooth fairy. In it, she strung all the teeth up and draped the 'tooth garlands' all over her house like christmas lights. The reason she valued teeth was because she didn't have any of her own, but she hoped one day she might grow one. It must be long out of print because I couldn't find it on the first ten pages of amazon results.
posted by happyturtle at 1:09 PM on December 10, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you so much for all the answers so far! Keep them coming, it is great to read all these different family stories. I started to mark a few as best answer, but I think I am going to end up with a blond fairy on a motorbike that writes notes, lives with Santa and add more details from all of your stories! Love the book and pillow ideas.

As far as I know we do not have a tooth tradition in the Netherlands. At least not with my family. This is so much more fun. Elliot just told me today that daddy, besides working on his computer also fights dragons in his spare time. Life is so magic when you are 6!
posted by kudzu at 1:24 PM on December 10, 2007

South Park had an episode on the Tooth Fairy back in the day that explains all you need to knnow on the subject.
Here is a plot synopsis on Wikipedia
Here is a link to the episode itself
Truly South Park is the fount of all knowledge
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:37 PM on December 10, 2007

Different teeth attract different rates (Front teeth, back teeth and then there's two front ones *cha-ching*) and these rates are subject to inflation. The tooth I got AU20c was worth AU$2 for my brother a few years later. So yes there's 'inflation' apparently...

Tooth under the pillow, then the 'tooth fairy' swoops in she gets the tooth, she leaves the cash. You wake up rich!

And that's all You need to know :)

But I don't know what you want to tell him about her?
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 1:42 PM on December 10, 2007

When my first tooth came out, I put it under my pillow as instructed, and woke up the next morning to find it replaced by a £1 coin. However later that day I realised I really really missed my tooth, and cried lots (I was a strange child) until my parents suggested that I wrote the Tooth Fairy a note explaining and asking for the tooth back. I did so, and put it under my pillow that night, along with the £1 which I felt it would be unfair to keep as well as the tooth. Amazingly, the fairy returned the tooth *and* let me keep the money. What a happy day that was! After that I didn't give any of my teeth to the tooth fairy, and instead kept them. I still have the whole lot in a little box somewhere, and show it to people when I want to freak them out.
posted by Lotto at 2:03 PM on December 10, 2007 [3 favorites]

Where does she live?
Toothypeg House
Molar Lane
posted by Dr.Pill at 2:19 PM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Cat Pie Hurts, try a toothfairy that curses and kills.
posted by Phire at 2:22 PM on December 10, 2007

(adorable thread, by the way.)
posted by Phire at 2:22 PM on December 10, 2007

I never really thought about the details of the tooth fairy - I don't think there really is any details other then a generic fairy who takes away teeth in exchange for money.

I do remember one of my Brothers getting very upset when he lost one tooth and swallowed it, and so was fearing he wouldn't get the money for it. It was explained that the tooth fairy would know and he got the money anyway.

Don't think my family were big on the cash front, I think probably 50pence to a pound would be right.
posted by paulfreeman at 2:33 PM on December 10, 2007

Aw, I didn't get the tooth fairy when I was a kid. I had "the magic box." It was an old ring box that I'd put my tooth in and leave on the kitchen table. When I got up the next morning, there would be something in the box - or under it if it was too big to fit in the box - and a note. But I always knew it was my dad because the Magic Box's handwriting and spelling were familiarly sloppy.

Anyway, I always figured that, had the tooth fairy been real, she and her co-fairies would recycle the fallen baby teeth into the grownup teeth that would replace them.
posted by katillathehun at 2:54 PM on December 10, 2007

Re the tooth: I think every family does something different with it. In our house, the Tooth Family "put the tooth on Mommy's dresser."

That way, of course, my mother could keep it in her creepy little jar of my brother's and my baby teeth. My point is, we were able to show off our teeth and my mother was able to treasure our first baby teeth (ick). So if you want to go that route, it's totally open to you.

As for the rest of the details, I think the others have them pretty well covered. The Tooth Fairy is an odd thing and -- strangely enough -- I never thought to ask why. Apparently I just assumed there was a being out there who lived to collect teeth. Kids are weird.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 3:09 PM on December 10, 2007

Yes, the Tooth Fairy uses the teeth to build her castle. That's why they have to be nice and clean - you don't want a castle with yellowy walls!

I always thought that she was adult-sized. She looked sort of like a Barbie...
posted by ramenopres at 3:10 PM on December 10, 2007

OK all you people who are saying that you thought the tooth fairy was human sized are freaking me out.

If as a child, my mother had told me that I was going to go to sleep and some human sized person I'd never met was going to creep into my room while I was asleep, I would have been totally terrified.

The tooth fairy is, naturally, tiny and cute. She's much smaller than a human!
posted by DarlingBri at 3:35 PM on December 10, 2007 [4 favorites]

A good friend's children receive 'fairy money' (dimes--America's smallest coin, but still a struggle for the Fairy to carry--painted with clear, glittery nail polish), a note from the Fairy and evidence of her visit in the form of a ever-so-faint trail of glitter leading from their bed and petering out as it hits the window. The Tooth Fairy who visited my childhood house, however, was rather forgetful of her duties and often required teeth to be left under one's pillow for several nights before the monetary exchange took place.
posted by kayzie at 4:00 PM on December 10, 2007 [3 favorites]

my sister knew that my mom was the one delivering the teeth, and told her best friend that my mom would trade money for teeth. excited she cracked the mystery, the bff ran home to tell her folks that our mom was the tooth fairy.

the moral: no matter how you plan, there will be some confusion. it's part of the charm.
posted by prophetsearcher at 4:32 PM on December 10, 2007

While it doesn't continue the myth, a book that I really enjoyed and thought was great to answers questions such as this is, "Dad, Are You The Tooth Fairy?" by Jason Alexander and Ron Spears. Click here for the Amazon link.
posted by mcarthey at 4:33 PM on December 10, 2007

We had little felt pouches (mine was green) with a white felt tooth on the front to put our teeth in. We got half-dollars. I personally got ripped off since 6 of my baby teeth never fell out and I had to have them pulled when I was 16, long after the tooth fairy figured out I didn't believe in her and quit coming. That's three bucks I missed out on!

And yeah, fairies are small. Duh.
posted by clh at 4:37 PM on December 10, 2007

My daughter fanwanked that the Tooth Fairy needs all those teeth to give them to babies who don't have any yet!
posted by Rock Steady at 5:02 PM on December 10, 2007

She collects the teeth to give them to babies. That's where their teeth come from. There are no new baby teeth, just recycled ones.
posted by wallaby at 5:09 PM on December 10, 2007

The tooth fairy lives in the Gandy Dancer restaurant in Ann Arbor, and makes dominoes with the teeth, which she gives a quarter from.

If your child asks anymore questions, tell her that someone on the internet told you, and people on the internet are always right.

I will be happy to take the magic out of further myths with mundane details if you would like (Santa Claus comes through the front door and leaves presents as part of an elaborate tax dodge).
posted by klangklangston at 5:40 PM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Our tooth fairy is tardy and usually takes a couple of days to come and perform the transation.
posted by singingfish at 5:54 PM on December 10, 2007

My daughter fanwanked that the Tooth Fairy needs all those teeth to give them to babies who don't have any yet!
posted by Rock Steady at 8:02 PM on December 10 [+] [!]

She collects the teeth to give them to babies. That's where their teeth come from. There are no new baby teeth, just recycled ones.
posted by wallaby at 8:09 PM on December 10 [+] [!]

Same thing for the pacifier fairy. Forgot to mention that. Of course my daughter for some reason got worried that the pony fairy was going to come and take her "My Little Ponys" away, so we might have to cool it.
posted by shothotbot at 6:03 PM on December 10, 2007

The tooth fairy is roughly the same size and shape as Mom. If you wake up in the middle of the night and think you see Mom rooting around under your pillow, you are wrong, it's actually the tooth fairy. She collects the teeth to build her castle (which is why they need to be white!), and since she is adult human sized and teeth are so small, this is why she needs so many of them. She can take the tooth from under your pillow, but she likes it better if it's in a little pocket in a "tooth fairy pillow," that way she knows you want her to have it. If your mom really wants to keep the tooth, she can buy it from the tooth fairy - the details of that transaction are always kept secret. There is only one tooth fairy, but she's not lonely since there are so many other fairies to hang out with.
posted by arcticwoman at 6:54 PM on December 10, 2007

I've always liked Terry Pratchett's interpetation of the Tooth Fairy, from Soul Music and Hogfather. There's several and they're all young ladies with magic ladders who wisk up to the room to collect the teeth. If they run out of change they've got a pair of pliers because the books have to balance. (explains loose teeth swallowed in the night or a large bill when you've not got change.

The teeth are kept in a castle made of teeth by The Tooth Fairy (the collector maids work for him).

Why he wants the teeth is complicated. He's actually very nice but it's a sort of insurance policy to make sure children believe in him.

I remember putting a tooth under my pillow and waking up to find a coin under my pillow. Then when I went over to the window sill, discovered the tooth fairy had apparently tripped on her way out (maybe because I was the last stop in the night) because there was $10 in dimes, nickles and quarters in the bushes under my window.
posted by Kioki-Silver at 7:21 PM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't remember asking many questions about the Tooth Fairy... it was more of a "huh? what? I get a quarter? ... OK" thing, I guess.

If there's not going to be many kids for him to argue with over Tooth Fairy lore, you might as well get creative. She collects teeth because she needs them to make special unicorn feed, so they'll have stronger and extra-magical horns. Only the Tooth Fairy knows how to turn teeth into unicorn suppliments, though (so he won't try to turn into a unicorn by swallowing one, or freak out about growing a horn if he accidentally does swallow one).
posted by CKmtl at 7:31 PM on December 10, 2007

did everybody get money from the tooth fairy?
i didn't grow up in an american family (although i did grow up in america) and i'm not sure how my parents learned of the tooth fairy in the first place. perhaps i knew all along that it would be mom and demanded visits from the tooth fairy. anyway.
i got little trinkets from the tooth fairy, but never money.
posted by timory at 8:35 PM on December 10, 2007

In some Latin American countries and Spain there is a mouse instead of a fairy. Everything else is exactly the same: the mouse exchanges the tooth below the pillow for money. I didn't believe in the mouse, nor in Santa (my mother didn't like those stories), but I like to gross my 6 year old niece, so I told her the mouse dipped its tail in her mouth when he tried to get the tooth. She didn't like that at all.
posted by clearlydemon at 10:15 PM on December 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

When I lost my first tooth at five, it was duly put in an envelope under my pillow. The next morning--along with the quarter-- there was a picture of a scowling winged creature with dripping fangs with the caption: THE TOOTH FAIRY HAS STRUCK!!! When I showed it to a neighbor kid, he crumpled it into a tiny ball and threw it onto the patio, which was still under construction.

This is one of the reasons why I no longer speak to my mother.
posted by brujita at 3:22 AM on December 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Elliot would like to show his new smile and I want to thank you all for the great stories!
posted by kudzu at 9:03 AM on December 11, 2007

On an episode of Bewitched, Imogene Coca played the Tooth Fairy. She had magical powers just like Samantha and all the other witches, only she had a job - she had to collect teeth. She was tired of it and got blitzed on brandy when she stopped by to pick up a tooth from Tabatha, so Samantha had to go out that night and collect teeth. In the end, the Tooth Fairy sobered up and decided that Sam had missed a lot of the nuances involved in being the Tooth Fairy, and that only she (Coca) could do the job properly.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:37 AM on December 11, 2007

My daughters have always refused the deal. "You can always get a dollar somewhere, but where are you ever going to get more teeth?"
posted by msalt at 2:59 PM on December 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

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