In an unsuspecting house on a street in Deerfield, Illinois are rooms filled with dolls, books, art and tiny trinkets that hold little teeth. Rosemary Wells insists she is not the Tooth Fairy, but does fancy herself the ‘Tooth Fairy Consultant.’
Wells opened up her home to the public in 1993 as a museum to all things Tooth Fairy. The idea started when she was teaching at Northwest University’s School of Dental Hygiene, and her students asked about the Tooth Fairy. In a search to answer their questions, she realized there was virtually no information available about this childhood icon.
What started out as a curiosity soon turned into a passionate journey to find out what the tooth fairy means to children and adults all around the world and share those discoveries with others.
She started by studying the folklore that surrounded this mysterious fairy as that was the only real information available. Wells discovered that this mythical collector of teeth wasn’t always manifested as a fairy. In some cultures, this keeper of teeth is a mouse or rat. In Madrid, a plaque honoring Rantoncito Perez, the storybook character from 1894 that lived in a cookie box and traveled through the pipes of the city and replaced children’s lost teeth with small gifts. In France, Belgium and some Spanish-speaking cultures, the Tooth Fairy as we know her is represented by a small mouse called the Little Mouse or Tooth Mouse, of whom many storybooks have been written about.
She continues adding to her collection as she travels around speaking at various conferences and schools. She commissions likenesses from artists around the country to see their perception of this iconic creature. Surprisingly, not everyone sees her as a woman with wings and a wand. What everyone does seem to agree on, based on Wells’ research, is that they have positive feelings towards the fairy. In fact, 97% of the respondents reported these positive associations.
One thing is clear, the importance of dental health and hygiene doesn’t begin when baby teeth fall out. The Tooth Fairy calms children’s fears about this transitional time in their lives and offers them an incentive to keep their teeth clean and healthy for this well-loved being. The global phenomenon goes to show that these feelings are universal and know no language or cultural bounds.
Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend bringing your child in for their first trip to the dentist at least six months after the first tooth appears or by their first birthday if teeth are a little late to bloom. Call Dr. Collins’ office today to set up an appointment at 509-368-7788 or visit us here to book an appointment online. It’s never too early to keep those teeth clean for the Tooth Fairy.
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