Tooth traditions around the world

At our dental practice in McMinnville, Ore., we’re big fans of any opportunity to teach children about teeth. Are your children school age and at the point where they will be losing their first baby, primary, or milk teeth? They might enjoy a book about the process.

This one, Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World, by Selby Beeler and G. Brian Karas, is one of our favorites. In it, you and your child will learn some amazing things about what different cultures do with lost teeth. In other words, the tooth fairy doesn’t come to everybody’s house.

Here are some examples:

Botswana: Children throw teeth on the roof.

Japan: Children throw teeth straight up in the air with the hope that their adult teeth will grow in straight.

India: Children throw teeth on the roof and ask a sparrow to bring them a new one.

The Dominican Republic: The teeth get thrown on the roof with the hope that a mouse will bring them a new one.

Egypt: Children wrap teeth in tissue and throw them at the sun, who brings new teeth.

El Salvador: When children lose teeth, they put them under their pillow and wait for a rabbit to bring them money.

China: Children place upper teeth at the foot of the bed and lower teeth on the roof with the hope that they’ll grow in faster.

Here is a site that is crowd-sourcing the different tooth traditions around the world. Whatever your culture, whatever your geography, whatever your tradition, losing your first teeth is a monumental step and worthy of its own ritual.

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