What's the Tooth Fairy Paying These Days?

What your kids find under their pillow could say a lot about who we are, and what's really important to us.

It's a fair question for parents of small children: How much is the Tooth Fairy paying these days?

Unlike Christmas, Hanukkah, birthdays and other special times when we spend 'til it hurts on gifts for the little ones, the Tooth Fairy can be more of a day-to-day barometer of how we're doing, what we believe, and what we really consider to be valuable.

For the youngest children the Tooth Fairy is a palliative, a way to ease the physical pain of losing a tooth loss that in itself can also be a traumatic experience.

The Tooth Fairy is also a symbol and a metaphor, a signpost along the road to adolescence for parents and children, and a way to hold on to some small part of childhood that too quickly disappears in the rush to grow up.

So pull up a couch, grab a juicebox, and feel free to jump into the discussion by using the Comment box at the bottom of this article. We want to hear from you!

Stuart Chirls March 02, 2011 at 06:07 PM
Welcome to the latest installment of Madison Patch Moms Talk! The Tooth Fairy may seem like so much childhood fiction, but there's more to it than that. And as the father of three (and dozens of teeth), I can say that I haven't given my kids any reason NOT to believe in a mythical being who drops money under their pillow!
Lara Aumento March 02, 2011 at 06:10 PM
At our house, the tooth fairy (who is pretty active these days given that my daughter is 7) likes to bring either a Presidential or Native American $1 coin whenever a tooth is lost. My daughter loves getting these coins – they’re shiny, gold in color and have a nice heft to them. They go into a special bag and to date, she hasn’t spent any of them … instead, she occasionally dumps them out on her bed and counts them – reveling in how much ‘gold’ she has! Because they don’t seem to be a commonly used form of currency (but they’ll do in a pinch!), they are that little bit more special than a grubby old dollar bill. Now this being said, I have been asked repeatedly why the tooth fairy brings some of her friends a five or ten dollar bill every time…. a question to which I don’t really have an answer (at this point I usually resort to some sort of diversionary tactic)....
Colleen Bohensky March 02, 2011 at 06:11 PM
I can't wait to see what everyone knows about the tooth fairy. We haven't had her visit our house yet... but Zoe has a "wobbly tooth" as we speak... and we're excited for our first fairy visit!!!
Stuart Chirls March 02, 2011 at 06:15 PM
Our 10-year old daughter also has a new loose tooth, which she insists everyone else in the family feel for verification. So, it's a group experience! (After her older sister and brother each had braces, my only concern is that the new teeth come in straight...)
Colleen Bohensky March 02, 2011 at 06:16 PM
Oh! A gold coin is a special idea. I wonder where the tooth fairy finds them? She must have connections.
Pamela Chirls March 02, 2011 at 06:19 PM
I have always told my children that the Tooth Fairy only comes when a child is sound asleep by 9:00 p.m. After the excitement of losing a tooth, it was always difficult to settle them into bed, and reassure them that the Tooth Fairy will find the tooth tucked in the special pillow under the pillow, but each one of them followed my rule. We always leave $1, and the kids always felt properly rewarded until friends reported on their big earnings and gifts and grandmas and grandpas passed along $10 or $20 when we weren't watching carefully. Outside forces might undermine the Tooth Fairy, but the mystery of this creature will always win!
Colleen Bohensky March 02, 2011 at 06:26 PM
We did just stop in at Sages Pages (http://madison.patch.com/listings/sages-pages) last week and pick up a really cute Tooth Fairy pillow. They have a variety of them right behind the register. Zoe is so excited (and worried) about her loose tooth that she's even taking the pillow to school in her bag in case the tooth falls out at school. Our first lost tooth is sure to be a VERY big deal. We'll have to make sure we make a big deal about the tooth fairy not coming until everyone is asleep!
Colleen Bohensky March 02, 2011 at 06:28 PM
Oddly enough... Zoe doesn't seem too interested in wiggling her tooth. I'm the one who always wants to check it!!!
Stuart Chirls March 02, 2011 at 06:30 PM
Colleen gets a shiny new penny for linking to the Patch directory! I guess having your own Tooth Fairy pillow is a step up from a piece of Kleenex, or is that a girly-girl thing?
Colleen Bohensky March 02, 2011 at 06:34 PM
(now you have to tell me if I could have used code to make "sages pages" the actual link) : ) They had an amazing variety of tooth fairy pillows. Boy and girl versions. Zoe picked one with a fairy on it (although the cashier said angel... we're going with fairy!)
Stuart Chirls March 02, 2011 at 06:57 PM
Wait 'til the old teeth get mixed in with the new teeth. My daughter misplaced one of her baby teeth. We thought we found it--but it turned out to be the puppy's tooth...
Elizabeth McConnell March 02, 2011 at 07:24 PM
Once my daughter, who was about 8 at the time, left a note for the tooth fairy under her pillow asking what the tooth fairy did with the teeth and if they ever would come back. We learned that the tooth fairy had to clean the teeth, and that how long that takes may vary. She's still waiting. Perhaps once she gets them she'll make a necklace?
Colleen Bohensky March 02, 2011 at 07:26 PM
I have always wondered what it was the tooth fairy did with all of the teeth she collected.
Elizabeth McConnell March 02, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Our tooth fairy leaves $5. But that may be because she's not a bank. She doesn't always have smaller bills.
Colleen Bohensky March 02, 2011 at 07:29 PM
Now that I've said that I remembered a book I read. Totally NOT a kids book. It was written by Gregory Maguire (who wrote Wicked) and it was called What the Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy. I'm going to have to pull it out and read it again now that I really need more information to prepare me for our upcoming fairy visit!!!
Elizabeth McConnell March 02, 2011 at 07:34 PM
Before we knew about the cleaning of the teeth, the kids posited this theory: the tooth fairy uses the teeth to make buildings in the city of Toothfairyland (I know that's what it's called because the TF said so in a note one time). That makes me think of the book "The Life of Pi" if any one out there has read it. When Pi finds the teeth in the fruit on the floating island? Maybe meat eating trees are a better repository for teeth than a q-tip dispenser?
KHRS March 03, 2011 at 03:32 AM
LOVED the Life of Pi. one of the best books I have read. Ever. I wanted to share my tooth fairy story. When I was a child in Washington, DC and beginning to doubt the tooth fairy, my father told us that there WAS a tooth fairy and if we doubted, we could just look in the phone book. What? Three giggling girls all ran to the phone book, but what to look under? Why, "Tooth," of course. And sure enough, there he was: Jack Tooth. Right in the phone book (the tooth fairy is MALE! Amazing!) Oh, can we please call him, daddy! Please! Oh, no. He is MUCH too busy. But there he was, in black and white. One more tooth fairy story. My father told us what happened to all those teeth: they built the tooth fairy castle, which all can see while driving around the northern section of the DC Beltway (495) -- a giant, spectacular white temple with golden spires (made of gold teeth, of course). It is, in fact, a Mormon temple, but to me it will always be the tooth fairy castle (with all due respect to the Mormons).
Elizabeth McConnell March 03, 2011 at 07:26 PM
We always thought of the Mormon temple as the Wicked Witch's castle because of the graffiti on the 495 bridge that says "Surrender Dorothy" as you approach it. That was there for years. Last time we went down I noticed it was gone.
KHRS March 03, 2011 at 10:34 PM
I never noticed that graffiti, how funny! BTW the going rate for a tooth in my household is also one Sacagawaea, although I think a certain other half may have recently escalated that to two Sacagaweas. 100% inflation, outrageous.
Dr. Allison M. Adams March 04, 2011 at 12:25 AM
As a mom of older kids and a dentist, I have a lot of info on the tooth fairy. I can't tell you the number of times, as parents, we forgot to have the Tooth Fairy leave money. Then we had to go back up to our kids rooms to hide money in the morning saying "oh look, the Tooth Fairy must have dropped the money over here...." The income rate for lost teeth varies dramatically. I've had patients tell me they get a few coins and others tell me ten dollars. When children are very little, I think they are more excited by a lot of coins than a paper bill, regardless of what they total. One family of all girls has a really nice, but more expensive tradition: for every lost tooth, the child gets a small pearl. All the pearls (20 of them for all the baby teeth) end up going on a necklace for them to wear. One more thing - I have always told children, that if they ever have a tooth taken out at the dentist's office, the Tooth Fairy gives them something extra because they were so good!
Stuart Chirls March 04, 2011 at 01:18 AM
Thanks so much for your expert viewpoint, Dr. Adams, you've added a new dimension to the conversation!
Colleen Bohensky March 04, 2011 at 01:20 AM
I love the pearl idea. I wonder if we can arrange for the local tooth fairy to go with that tradition. : )
Dr. Allison M. Adams March 04, 2011 at 02:53 AM
One more thing - I think we all forget how truly exciting it is for a child to loose their first tooth. It is a rite of passage for them. It is always a big deal to be the first child in kindergarten to loose a tooth. And I see, sometimes, how sad children can be when they are the last to loose their first tooth. At the mere mention of a wiggly tooth to a child, I see their faces light up and sense the joy that they have finally reached such a momentous occasion. If you have a child in the 5-7 year old range who is waiting to loose their first tooth, assure them they come out easily, that how old they are when they loose it doesn't mean anything, and certainly, that the Tooth Fairy is as excited about it as they are and will remember them!


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