First glittering pearly white teeth appear in your baby’s mouth on an average around 6 months of age. Your little one normally has 20 baby teeth until about the age of 6, after that he is supposed to shed them, and they eventually get replaced by permanent teeth. I remember, when I started shedding my milk teeth, my parents used to instruct “put your lost milk tooth in green grass, sparrow shall pick it up, you will get strong teeth in its place.” I still wonder the reason behind this theory.
Anyways, let me tell you that this is not only the way to dispose of a lost milk tooth, and almost every human culture around the world follow their own set of traditions or rituals for the disposal of the lost baby teeth. So today, I shall provide an interesting brief review regarding the rituals associated with lost milk tooth.
What should I do with Milk Tooth?
Researcher B. R. Townend in 1960 handily broke these down into nine basic types of ritual:
(1) The tooth was thrown into the sun
(2) Thrown into the fire
(3) Thrown between the legs
(4) Thrown onto or over the roof of the house, often with an invocation to some animal or individual
(5) Placed in a mouse hole near the stove or hearth or offered to some other animal
(7) Hidden where animals couldn’t get it
(8) Placed in a tree or on a wall
(9) Swallowed by the mother, child or animal
Also Read: Dental Myths with Milk Teeth
How to Dispose-of Milk Teeth?
Milk teeth is placed underneath the baby’s pillow assuming that the “Tooth Fairy” will visit while he sleeps, exchange the lost tooth with money or candy. This tradition is practised in various countries in the English speaking world: the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc.
The tooth fairy myth had origin from La Bonne Petite Souris, a bedtime story, which tells the strange tale of a fairy that changes into a mouse to help a good queen defeat an evil king. The mouse secretly hides under the evil king’s pillow and defeats him by knocking out his teeth.
2.Offer Milk Teeth to Animals
In the anticipation of getting a stronger tooth, milk teeth are offered to animals with strong teeth: rodents, squirrels, cats etc. But till today “Tooth mouse” remains the predominant animal-dental mascot. The tooth is offered to mouse accompanied by a prayer for the tooth.
In France, the “buried” tooth under the pillow is collected by “La Petite Souris”, a little mouse who will exchange the tooth for money or candies.
In Spain, it is the mouse named Ratoncito Perez who collects the tooth and leaves a treasure.
In Argentina, children put their tooth in a glass of water. El Ratoncito comes to drink the water, takes the tooth, and leaves treasure behind in the glass.
In Mexico, Guatemala, Columbia, and Venezuela, El Ratón, the magic mouse, take tooth away.
In South Africa, the tooth is placed in a slipper and a mouse takes it and leaves a gift in its place.
3.Throwing Milk Teeth on Roof or Buried in Soil
Baby teeth are thrown on the roof top if the lost tooth was from the lower jaw. If the tooth sheds from the upper jaw, buried deep into the soil near a big tree being followed in some Asian countries like India, China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. The idea behind the act is that new tooth will be pulled towards the old tooth.
4. Milk Teeth are Gold Plated and used as Jewellery
Parents go for gold plating the tooth and lace tooth into a necklace or earring. In ancient time warriors would use them to wear them in the battlefield as good luck charm.
5. The tooth is Thrown into the Sky ⛅
The tooth is thrown up into the sky to the sun or Allah, this tradition is followed in Middle Eastern countries which include Arab, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan.
6. The tooth is Thrown into the Fire?
In Medieval Europe, lost baby teeth were immediately thrown into the fire as parents were concerned that a witch would get a hold of these teeth and use them to control their children.
7.Feed it to the Dog ? or any Animal with Strong Teeth
In Mongolia, lost milk teeth are wrapped in feed and given to a dog, in hopes that new teeth would grow as strong as a dog’s teeth.
8. Milk Teeth kept in Tooth Book or Album
Parents who want to keep their baby lost tooth forever as memory, keep them in books or albums books specifically for this purpose only. There is a whole market for ways to keep the teeth. This is how they can have lifelong cherished memory. They keep the dates the tooth was lost and even keep pictures of cute toothless smiles.
9. Preservation for Future use in Dental Stem Cell Banks
Instead of discarding baby teeth, just like umbilical cord banking, studies have found baby teeth as a potential source of stem cells. Stem cells are multipotent cell lineage with innate ability to multiply rapidly and differentiate into many different cell types. These cells can be used to cure diseases a child may face in future or with a family history of the particular disease. The stem cells from the baby teeth can be used to grow the needed tissue. These stem cells are present in the pulp of a tooth and can regenerate neurons, bone, cartilage and cardiac cells.