Children absorb all sorts of tales about what happens to their teeth after they have been whisked away by the tooth fairy. Parents have youngsters mightily confused about what tooth fairies would want with these little pearls of enamel and how they are recycled in the world of myth and legend.
Amazingly inventive suggestions include using them as bricks to build a fairy’s castle, magical seeds that spawn plants and flowers when planted in the ground and of course, the old favourite, that they become dazzling stars in the night sky. A rather less enchanting tale is that they are used in dentures – probably not the most heartening tale to tell a young impressionable child.
Possibly the most common answer parents use in response to their child’s questions about the nocturnal activities of the tooth fairy, is that fairies can build castles with them. It’s probably the most common, but hardly the most appealing.
Most dreamers prefer to imagine fairies dwelling in lush green forests, surrounded by ferns, toadstools and tiny homes built of twigs and moss. The picture of gleaming pearly white buildings made of tooth enamel just doesn’t quite fit.
Ancient housewives’ tales did tell of witches using children’s teeth for their devilish deeds and traditionally it became the norm to bury a child’s teeth to hide them. This would help keep them out of the grimy hands of witches, who would otherwise use them to cast nasty spells. So, the story of planting teeth as seeds from which beautiful flowers can flourish is an insightful one after all.
A favourite tale for many is one where the Tooth Fairy collects teeth and miraculously produces a star. And of course, the healthier and cleaner the tooth is, the brighter the star will be – a clever motivator for children who avoid cleaning their teeth.
It is pleasant gaze at the night sky and think that somewhere a star was born from an innocent child’s tooth. Or maybe parents’ romantic notions of the tooth fairy no longer hold the imagination of youngsters and they would rather settle for the cash under the pillow.