Baby Tooth Loss Traditions Around the World

baby tooth traditions around the world infographic

Every human being has 32 permanent (or adult) teeth. Every person has incisors (front teeth), canines, pre-molars and molars on each jaw. There are eight incisors (four on each jaw), four canines and pre-molars with two on each side and on each jaw.  The front teeth and canines are used to tear apart tough food while the pre-molars and molars are used to grind and crush food.

Nobody is born with these teeth though.

Baby teeth are the temporary teeth that grow in prior to the permanent teeth. The front baby teeth grow in first and the molars grow in last. The stage where a baby’s teeth are growing in is called teething.

The baby teeth fall out in the same order in which they grew in. By the age of two, all of one’s baby teeth have grown in. It is during the ages between 6 and 12 that the baby teeth fall out to make room for the permanent teeth that will replace them.

There is an outlier though: wisdom teeth. These teeth don’t grow in until the late teen years. In some cases, the wisdom teeth are extracted to make adequate room for the other teeth to grow in straight.

Since everyone around the world has the same teeth and goes through the same baby tooth losing phase, what are the tooth loss traditions of other cultures?

Below are some traditions children who lose their baby teeth follow in other countries:

Throw Lost Tooth Into a Mouse or Rat Hole

This tradition is observed by children in Afghanistan and Russia. They believe the mouse or rat will replace their lost tooth with a stronger one.

Throw Lost Tooth on Top of the Roof

This is a common tradition in many cultures and are practiced by children in Botswana, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, India, Haiti, and Greece.

Put Missing Tooth Under the Pillow for the “Tooth Mouse”

Instead of a tooth fairy taking the tooth and leaving behind money, kids in Colombia, France, Spain and Guatemala wait for the tooth mouse to come and leave behind a reward. In El Salvador, it a rabbit that comes and leaves a gift and a tooth squirrel is the anticipated visitor in Sri Lanka.

Put Missing Top Teeth at Foot of Bed and Missing Bottom Teeth on the Roof

In China, children place lost top teeth at the foot of their beds and lost bottom teeth on the roof in hopes that their teeth will grow in fast and straight. Japan has a similar tradition whereby the top teeth are buried and the lower teeth are thrown on the roof.

Throw Missing Teeth Into the Sun

Egyptian children wrap their teeth up and throw it at the sun in hopes they will get a bright, white tooth in return. Pakistani children follow a similar tradition whereby they throw their teeth into a river during sunset.

Place Teeth in a Glass of Water

In Sweden, children put their teeth in a glass of water instead of under their pillows. The next morning the teeth would have been replaced with coins. Argentina has a similar tradition of placing a tooth in water.

Bury Teeth in the Ground

Children in Tajikistan, Nepal and Malaysia bury their lost teeth.  The reason varies from the belief the replacement tooth will grow in strong or for the protection of their teeth from getting eaten by birds. In Turkey, parents use lost teeth to dictate their child’s future. For instance, if they wanted their child to be a soccer player, they would bury the tooth in a soccer field. In the Philippines, children would hide their teeth and try to find it the next year.

Tooth Fairy

Besides the United States, children in Denmark, England, and Australia also believe in a tooth fairy that will take away their lost teeth and exchange it for money.

Keep Teeth as Souvenirs

Children in Lithuania keep their lost baby teeth as souvenirs.

Child tooth loss is a natural occurrence. It is important to maintain your child’s dental health during this time. The loss of teeth is no reason to relax on caring for your child’s dental care.  If you would like to schedule a dental appointment for your child at one of our three pediatric dental offices, contact Out of This World Dentistry today.

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