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Kids and Teeth: Curious, Weird, and Strange Stories and Customs

Most parents have a simple wish for their kid’s teeth — for their child’s teeth to be clean and strong, untouched by cavities or the need for braces. While we all worry about the best toothpaste or the timing of that first dentist visit, the world of kid’s teeth is much bigger and more fascinating than many of us realize. Around the world, tooth stories vary wildly, weaving beliefs, traditions, and practices that go far beyond our routine of brush, floss, and rinse. 


The Tooth “Mouse” 


We all know about the Tooth Fairy from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and Denmark. However, in France and Spanish-speaking countries, Le Petite Souris or El Ratoncito Pérez scurries around, collecting teeth left under pillows or glasses of water. Kids’ teeth become offerings, so the new teeth grow as strong as a rodent’s! 


Feeding Dogs a Tooth 


In some cultures, children mix their fallen teeth into a piece of meat and present it to a dog. This unique custom comes from the belief that such an act will bless the child with teeth as robust and resilient as a dog’s for their next set of teeth. 


Burning the Tooth 


Back when worries about witches were as common as mud pies, kids in medieval Europe had unique ways of dealing with fallen baby teeth. Instead of tucking them under their pillows or handing them off to mom and dad, kids would torch their tiny teeth to keep pesky witches at bay. 


Tooth on the Roof 


Over in Greece, when kids wiggle a tooth free, it’s an opportunity for a bit of magic. With the lost tooth in hand, they step outside, toss it onto the roof, and make a heartfelt wish for strong, healthy adult teeth to replace the baby ones. In India, China, Vietnam, and Korea, only the lower teeth get this send-off. 


Tooth at the Foot of the Bed 


Where do the upper teeth go? Either on the ground or at the foot of the kids’ beds. These tooth stories are grounded in the hope that the act will guide a new, straight tooth to grow correctly in the place of the old baby tooth. 


Burying the Tooth 


Burying a newly lost tooth has significant meaning across various traditions, symbolizing the hopes for flourishing prosperity, good health, or overall well-being. 


In parts of Europe, the practice involves children placing their baby teeth in the garden soil, likening the emergence of strong, healthy new teeth to the sprouting and growth of garden plants. Meanwhile, in Turkey, the custom takes on a unique twist as children bury their teeth at locations where they dream of building their future careers. 


Tooth Toward the Sun 


As noted, in some countries, people toss kids’ teeth on the roof, ground, or at the foot of their beds, but others prefer to keep them as close to the sky as possible. In Egypt, as well as several Middle Eastern nations, a charming tradition exists where children cast their fallen teeth toward the sun. This act has the hope that a vibrant, healthy adult tooth will soon take its place, mirroring the sun’s radiance and strength. 


Tooth on a Necklace 


In several Central American spots, there’s a unique and heartwarming custom where lost baby teeth turn into pieces of jewelry. This tradition traces back to ancient Vikings. These ancestors used to think items belonging to their kids, including tiny teeth, were packed with good luck. They’d even carry them into battles, hoping for some protection. 


The Family Tooth Tree 


In Canada — specifically within the Yellowknives Dene First Nation tribe — when kids lose a tooth, they hand it over to their mother or grandmother, who then tucks it away in a tree. That’s not all — what comes next is a family affair. Everyone gathers around the tooth-laden tree and dances to send a little wish into the universe that the new tooth will grow as straight and strong as the chosen tree! 


Teeth Blackening 


When most of us want white teeth, Southeast Asian and Oceanic cultures and Peru and Ecuador tribes want the exact opposite. Apart from symbolizing beauty, maturity, and sophistication, the tradition of teeth blackening serves a practical purpose for dental health, aiding in the longevity of teeth. The darkening mixture, typically a blend of iron filings and vinegar, functions similarly to contemporary dental sealants by offering protection against cavities. 


Bay Area Kids Dentist: Pediatric Dentists Without Unusual Tooth Stories 


At Bay Area Kids Dentist, our board-certified pediatric dentists are experts in providing top-notch care for your kid’s teeth. We’ve heard about the tooth stories from around the world, and we’re ready to make your little one’s tooth adventures smooth and comfortable. We may not have any magical or cultural traditions about teeth, but we sure do know how to make them strong and healthy! Schedule an appointment today.