The Tooth Fairy is just as much a part of childhood and imagination as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Yet, our sweet tooth fairy is more complex.
When you look into the history of the tooth fairy, it is dark and scary. The fairy is most definitely not an innocent sprite.
The History of the Scary Tooth Fairy
The origins of the tooth fairy go back to the earliest Norse and Northern European traditions with the tand-fe, which means the tooth fee.
The tand-fe was a custom for adults and parents to give kids money when they lost their first teeth. This tradition finds mention in the prose Edda, circa 1200 CE by the Icelandic Poet and historian Snorri Sturluson.
Among Norse cultural beliefs and practices was that the first fallen teeth of children would bring luck in battle. Scandinavian warriors would hang these around their necks on a string.
Europeans in the Middle Ages believed that a witch could use fallen teeth to curse or control them. So, adults would discard or burn baby teeth immediately after they fell out. The strange practices included swallowing, burning, burying, throwing over the roof, and more. Sometimes, parents left the child’s teeth for rodents, animals with robust teeth. People believed that if they didn’t dispose of the baby teeth, their souls would forever wander and search in the afterlife.
Old Folklore and Legends About the Scary Tooth Fairy
In European folklore, though, some stories sound like the tooth fairy but involve witches.
The Scary Witch of Lancashire: Jenny Greenteeth
Jenny Greenteeth is an English legend who originates in Lancashire. She was a witch that hid in ponds filled with scum to lure children into her trap. Parents would use her to scare children into obedience. The pond scum or duckweed that Jenny Greenteeth hides in resembles her green teeth. Parents invoke her name to encourage kids to brush their teeth.
The Little Good Mouse
This French fairy tale called La Bonne Petite Souris translates to The Good Little Mouse, written by Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d’Aulnoy, also known as Countess d’Aulnoy.
In a faraway land, an evil king had a beautiful kingdom full of good people. With that said, the evil king imprisoned the queen.
When the queen cries for help, a mouse appears. This mouse is a fairy who promises to avenge the queen. Upon finding the evil king, the mouse bites his ears, cheek, and mouth, chewing away until all the Royal teeth fall out, and he lies sprawled on the royal bed.
This legend is the origin that ties in with the tooth fairy and the custom of feeding teeth to mice.
The Scary Tooth Fairy in Hollywood
Hollywood has gone on to immortalize different movie interpretations of the tooth fairy with horror and gore galore.
Darkness Falls (2003)
In the 1800s, in a town called Darkness Falls, Matilda Dixon, a kind woman adored by children, gets accused of being a kidnapper. Matilda returns as a ghost and hunts down children in the dark when they lose their last baby tooth. The eerie myth turns legend into a terror-filled nightmare and quest for revenge.
Tooth Fairy (2006)
A 12-year-old named Pamela travels on a holiday with her family to a bed and breakfast in the River Bend Road in Northern California. There, she meets a girl next door who tells her the story of the Tooth Fairy: Many years ago, the evil Tooth Fairy slaughtered countless children to get their teeth, and she has now returned to kill Pamela and every other person who stands in her path.
Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark (1973), (2010)
The homunculi, also known as “creatures” or tooth fairies, are a race of small, nocturnal, supernatural creatures from the underworld. They are the main antagonists in the 1973 ABC TV horror film Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and the 2010 fantasy horror movie of the same name.
In the 1973 version, a young couple inherits an old mansion. Small demon-like creatures inhabit the house and want to make the woman their own.
In the 2010 version, a child named Sally goes to live in a new gothic mansion with her father, Alex, and his girlfriend, Kim. In the basement of the new home, Sally finds that she has released creatures from a sealed ash pit. Sally desperately tries to alert her father and his girlfriend to the existence of the bloodsucking monsters.
When Scary Tooth Fairy Comes Home: The End!
The idea of a supernatural creature creeping into a child’s bedroom at night to take their teeth gives one the heebie-jeebies. The tooth fairy is a creature that replaces our baby teeth with money under our pillows. Although, no one knows what she does with them after she removes them.
It is up to you to decide whether to honor tradition or put it in a box. But, jeepers creepers, a witch might steal it!
Last Updated on September 21, 2023.