Baby teeth have always held significance to many people and cultures. The most well-known tradition is placing lost baby teeth under your pillow in return for money from the “Tooth Fairy.” Some families keep them; others will even create a craft project or some form of a keepsake. Modern uses are more scientific, with baby teeth being preserved to provide the ability to use their mesenchymal stem cells later in life. This is used as a safeguard against various illnesses, including certain forms of cancer. Below we’ll discuss some of the baby tooth traditions that have developed worldwide.
Almost every human culture ever encountered has had rituals that developed around the disposal of our baby teeth. Researchers poured over the records available to produce the following summarized list:
This last was among the most common ritual performed. All over the world, there were instances of a baby tooth being offered to a rodent, most commonly a rat or mouse. This was done in the hope that the child’s teeth would be blessed with the strength of the rodents. This offering was usually paired with the singing of a song or a prayer. In other areas, the spirit of the ritual was kept by offering the tooth to a beaver, cat, squirrel, or dog. Far and away, however, it was the mouse that received the tooth in most cultures.
Many areas of the world still celebrate the Tooth Mouse. Whether in a slipper, under their pillow, or somewhere else, the tooth mouse receives an offering of the baby tooth. The mouse responsible goes by many names, including El Ratoncito Perez, La Petit Souris, and many others. The tooth fairy was an evolution of the tooth mouse and the idea of the good fairy and remains a popular option in the West to this day.
All of this emphasis placed on baby teeth isn’t without merit, however. Our baby teeth are an important part of helping our oral cavity develop properly and ensure that there’s plenty of room for our adult teeth to come in. Further, they ensure that when our adult teeth arrive, they are straight and properly aligned. If you want to learn more about the importance of baby teeth, call us for an appointment at (832) 271-6114 today!