First glittering pearly white appears 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 they are 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 off a lost milk tooth, every human culture round the world follow their own set of traditions or rituals for the disposal of the lost baby teeth. So today, I shall providing a interesting brief review regarding the rituals associated lost milk tooth.
What to 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 off Milk Teeth?
1.Tooth fairy : Milk teeth is placed underneath the baby’s pillow assuming that the “Tooth Fairy” will visit while they sleep, exchange the lost tooth with money or candy. This tradition is practiced in various countries in English speaking world : United states of America,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 stronger tooth , milk teeth is 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 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 is thrown on roof top, if the lost tooth was from the lower jaw.If the tooth sheds from 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 were used to wear them in battlefield as good luck charm.
5.Tooth is thrown into the Sky ⛅
Tooth is thrown up into the sky to the sun or Allah, this tradition is followed in middle Eastern countries which includes Arab, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan.
6.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 is wrapped in feed and given to dog, in hopes that new teeth would grow in 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 specific for this purpose only. There is a whole market for ways to keep the teeth. This is how they can have life long cherishing 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 a potential source of stem cells. Stem cells are multipotent cell lineage with innate ability 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 family history of 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.