Tooth Fairy 101

tooth fairy

At my daughter’s most recent visit to the dentist, the hygienist informed her that she has a loose tooth. The kid was thrilled and she became immediately convinced her tooth would be coming out any minute. The hygienist apologized to me and explained that the tooth was barely loose and it would be a couple months before it actually got wiggly enough for my daughter to feel. Apology accepted, because that gave me lots of times to research the Tooth Fairy. If you haven’t been the tooth fairy had the opportunity to work with the tooth fairy before, let me welcome you to Tooth Fairy 101.

How Does This Tooth Fairy Thing Work, Exactly?
The basics in the US: When a child loses a tooth, the tooth is placed under the child’s pillow where, at some point during the night, it is magically replaced with money by the Tooth Fairy. Ostensibly, this is to ease the trauma of losing a tooth (and research seems to back that up!).

What Are Teeth Worth?
Apparently, the average payout for a tooth in 2016 was $4.66. Colgate lists a range of $1.00 to $5.00. (By the way, this data comes from surveys, which are actually someone’s job. Whoa.) My daughter’s friend lost her first tooth over the summer and informed me today that she got four quarters!!!, which she was pretty darn excited about. Parents in the know (or the Tooth Fairy themself) explain to kids that clean teeth that are brushed and flossed daily are worth more than teeth that have not been cared for properly.

tooth fairy

The Tooth Doesn’t Actually Go Under the Pillow.
Whether your child is a light sleeper or you’ve just realized hunting for a baby tooth under the pillow of a sleeping child in bed overstuffed with said sleeping child and all their favorite toys is likely to be an exercise in futility for parents and fairies alike, you shouldn’t have your kid actually put their tooth under their pillow. You can use a dish or cup, or hit up Amazon, Etsy, or another favorite retailer for a tooth fairy pillow.

Tooth Fairy Evidence Kit

Things That Go Sparkle and Other Traditions.
Are you into Elf on the Shelf, Leprechaun hijinks, and Easter Bunny footprints? Well, there’s plenty of fun to be had with the Tooth Fairy, too.

  • Spray paper money with clear adhesive and sprinkle glitter on it. (Spray and glitter one side a time, and leave plenty of time for it to dry before delivery.) If you’re not into glitter all over your house, consider using gold dollar coins.
  • Apparently, the Tooth Fairy is not only leaving money—your child can now receive an accompanying receipt.
  • Speaking of leaving things, you can consider working with the Tooth Fairy to ensure your child gets something other than money (a small treat or toy, or an experience they might enjoy, for example.)
  • Fairy footprints! You can use a doll/action figure shoe or foot to make prints in a trail of glitter, or you can purchase tiny fairy footprint stencils to make glittery footprints left by the fairy. There’s even a Tooth Fairy Evidence Kit—I’m in love with this one!
  • Record the tooth loss for posterity. There’s a tooth passport idea that’s adorable. (Note: the printable referred to in the link is no longer available, but there are enough images that you could easily use the original passport cards for inspiration to create your own.)
  • Want to save those baby teeth? Personally, I find this kind of macabre, but you do you. You can find a variety of keepsake boxes for your child’s lost teeth.
  • Give the Tooth Fairy a private entrance. Place a fairy door in your child’s room on nights that the Tooth Fairy is expected to visit. Alternatively, when their first tooth starts to wiggle, you can install the door more permanently—with your child, or at night as if it appeared with the Tooth Fairy—and leave it in place for the Tooth Fairy’s use until your child loses their last baby tooth (or stops believing).
tooth fairy
Image from “I Saw the Toothfairy” app.

There’s an App for That.
Head to your app store and search “tooth fairy,” to find apps like I Saw the Tooth Fairy, CATCHY Photos – Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and more, and Tooth Fairy CAMERA. You can even call the Tooth Fairy. And if you’re not sure how much to pay for that tooth, there’s an app called Tooth Fairy that informs you what people in your demographic pay per tooth on average.

Uh-oh…
Did the tooth fairy miss your house last night? Leave a letter for your kid (or relate information you received from the Tooth Fairy) to explain the miss. Some of my favorite excuses are:

  • “So many children lost their teeth last night that by the time I made it to your house, it was getting light outside. You know tooth fairies only work at night, so I had to come back.”
  • The Tooth Fairy doesn’t work on holidays.
  • The Tooth Fairy got lost.
  • “You started to wake up and the Tooth Fairy had to leave quickly so you didn’t see them.”
  • “Your room was so messy that the Tooth Fairy couldn’t find your tooth. Let’s clean it up today, so your tooth will be easier to see.”
  • “I saw the Tooth Fairy in my room last night! I bet they got confused. Let’s make a sign for your room tonight to help the Tooth Fairy find it.”
  • It was raining, and fairies can’t fly with wet wings. (Thank you, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue.)

The Negotiator
Are your child and their friends comparing Tooth Fairy payouts on the playground? Has your kid spent all their savings and is looking to make a quick buck off their teeth? For whatever reason, kids seem to enjoy negotiating the worth of their teeth with the Tooth Fairy. For some clever responses, check out this (my personal favorite), this, and this.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling way more prepared now. Bring it on, loose teeth! (And those of you who have already had the opportunity to meet the Tooth Fairy, please do share your family’s traditions and favorite stories with us in the comments.)

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Christina lives in Northwest Illinois with her husband, daughter, and two English Springer Spaniels. Before becoming a reluctant stay-at-home mom, she worked in a variety of customer-service-oriented jobs while dreaming of living in the lap of luxury as a housewife. Unfortunately, having a child threw a wrench in Christina's plan to do nothing but eat bonbons while lounging in the Jacuzzi reading all day. Now, she spends her time looking for fun activities and crafts for her daughter and easy-to-prepare meals for her family, while trying not to land the kid in therapy when she grows up. Christina volunteers at her local library, and does both volunteer and paid work as a sexuality educator. She loves to read, and to learn about--and share--new products and resources.

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