There’s no doubt that the loss of baby teeth have become closely associated with traditions and legends all over the globe. We thought we’d have some fun and be reminded of simpler times by learning about different baby teeth beliefs and customs throughout the world.
Many of us have experienced the excitement of the Tooth Fairy, whether it was our own excitement when we were young, or the excitement of our children. Through the many milestones in childhood, losing baby teeth are definitely a rite of passage. For English speaking countries like the United States, Canada and Great Britain, the typical tooth collecting tradition involves a Tooth Fairy who exchanges baby teeth for money. In most other countries however, the creature with an affinity for baby teeth is not a fairy, but rather a mouse!
Tradition #1: The Tossing Tradition
Once a baby tooth falls out, it is common in some Asian countries to throw the tooth. The direction in which to throw it is not random. If a tooth from the upper row of the mouth falls out, then it gets thrown towards the floor. If a tooth from the bottom row is the one to come out, then it gets thrown to the sky. The idea behind this tradition is that the direction in which the baby tooth is thrown will help pull the new adult tooth to replace it.. This tradition is most commonly found in countries such as India, China, Japan, Vietnam, and Korea.
Tradition #2: A Baby Tooth Collector of the Rodent Variety
In South American countries such as Peru, Colombia, and Chile, it’s not a tooth fairy who exchanges your baby teeth for money, but rather a tooth collecting mouse. The idea of a “Tooth Mouse” can also be found in Mexico, South Africa and in certain European countries such as Spain and France. In this exchange, it isn’t always money that is traded for baby teeth. Treats, gifts and toys are all potential offerings. This baby tooth fetching mouse has different names depending on the country where he works, but he is a pretty legendary character. In Spain they even have a museum dedicated to their baby tooth collecting mouse, Raton Perez.
Tradition #3: Changing Up the Baby Tooth Placement
While we’re used to stashing our baby teeth under our pillow for the Tooth Fairy to find, that is not a standard designated spot for every country. In South Africa, their tooth mouse collects baby teeth from a pair of slippers instead of underneath a pillow. In Argentina and Sweden, children place their teeth in a glass of water. The idea behind this is that once the tiny tooth collector comes to pick up their baby tooth, they’ll be tired and thirsty from a long night of collecting teeth. When they’ve arrived to pick up the baby tooth, they’ll hydrate with the water from the glass, grab the tooth, and then leave coins and gifts behind in the empty glasses.
Tradition #4: Raising the Roof
In certain countries such as Greece, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Botswana baby teeth are also tossed around. Unlike the tradition of some of the Asian countries however, this version involves teeth being thrown onto the roof on their home. By landing on the roof, children hope for good luck so their new teeth grow straight and healthy.
Tradition #5: Getting in Touch with Nature
While in many different countries across the world baby teeth are thrown in the air, countries such as Malaysia, Turkey and Mongolia have a different approach. In these countries, it’s common to return baby teeth back into nature by burying them. In Mongolia, a baby tooth is buried by a tree so that the new tooth growing in its place will have strong roots. In Turkey, some parents believe that if you bury a baby tooth near a specific place, it can have implications for their child’s future. For example, if you bury the tooth near a soccer field, it will help your child grow up to become a good soccer player.