It goes without saying in the UK that the loss of a baby tooth will usually prompt a visit from the tooth fairy bearing coins.
But what about the rest of the world? It is not only the UK that keeps the tooth fairy busy, children in most English-speaking countries follow the same tradition, including America and Australia, as well as parts of Scandinavia, with the tooth being exchanged for cash or a small gift.
Spain, Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia
Stashing milk teeth under their pillow, children in many Spanish-speaking countries await a visit from Ratoncito Pérez. Also known as Raton Perez, this little mouse exchanges the baby tooth for a small gift.
Italy, France, Belgium
A mouse also collects milk teeth in Italy, where it goes by the name of Topolino – as well as in France and parts of Belgium where it is known as la petite souris (the little mouse). The rodent link is a result of mice and rats having teeth that grow back.
Not everyone favours the pillow as the tooth’s resting place though. In parts of Australia, Norway, Sweden and Argentina children leave the tooth in a glass of water, where the gift is left after it has been emptied.
What goes up must come down…
Most other traditions see baby teeth ceremonially thrown in the air. Children in Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and Mexico throw baby teeth onto the roof of their house at the same time as making a wish.
Children in parts of Asia, including India, Nepal, Vietnam and Korea, throw a tooth from the bottom of their mouth onto the roof, and from the upper part onto the floor while calling for it to be replaced by the tooth of a mouse. In China, children throw their teeth to the roof or underground to encourage them to grow in that direction.
Children in Japan throw their baby teeth upwards or downwards in the hope that they grow straight.
In many Middle Eastern countries tradition sees children throw their teeth to the sun.
While in Sri Lanka children throw their milk teeth while asking a squirrel to replace them.
Whatever the custom, there is universal reverence for the importance of milk teeth in the development of a child.
Remember to always treat milk teeth with care – brush twice a day and make regular trips to the dentist.
To find out more facts and tips about dental care, please visit Bhandal’s Dentistry based in Coventry.