Since each kid loses 20 teeth in their lifetime and I have two kids, that means I've seen 40 tooth fairy letters. Woah.
I have two kids and an active imagination, which means I have seen some pretty spectacular Tooth Fairy letters over the years. These are instructions for you, the adult who wants to give a child a memorable Tooth Fairy experience.
How to Write a Tooth Fairy Letter
- Personalize it. It's always thrilling to see your name written out, especially if a fairy wrote it! Your kids will be thrilled to know that the Tooth Fairy knows something personal about them. What other personal details about the child can you include?
- Include specific details. You might compliment or remark on the quality of the tooth or the tooth-losing process or say something about how the child has been brushing and flossing. Specific details will make the letter feel more personal and meaningful.
- Use your imagination. What current events might be important to mention? For example, did that big storm/game/news event make it hard for the Tooth Fairy to get there? Also, what does the Fairy plan on doing with the tooth?
- Don't give yourself away. You will want to either type the letter or write it in a style that your child won't recognize, especially if your kid is skeptical (like mine) and will be sleuthing for clues. Try writing with your left hand or ask a friend to write the note for you. Don't forget to write in an easy-to-read handwriting, though, as most young kids have a hard time reading cursive. (Yes, you could also type and print if you want to, but this may reduce some of the charm.)
- Consider presentation. What kind of paper would a fairy use? A tiny Tooth Fairy might leave a tiny fairy-sized note. Would it be written on a leaf?! Will you enclose the letter in an envelope—if so, how would it be addressed? Do you have any stickers or can you include a little doodle?
- Keep it short and sweet. Especially with younger children, you don't want to make the message too complicated. For older kids you can include more details, but still try to keep it simple because otherwise, you risk saying too much or giving too much away! Remember—the older the child gets, the trickier it can be making the note seem authentic.
True story: In 2020, we sent our daughters photos of the tooth posed in front of various famous or fabulous vistas (like how people take snapshots of gnomes on vacations). That was a big hit! (We needed a silly project that year.)
Examples of Things the Tooth Fairy Might Write
- "Congratulations on losing your very first tooth. It’s a treasure!"
- "This is one of the nicest, strongest teeth I have ever collected."
- "This tooth really took a long time to fall out, didn't it? But it was certainly worth the wait!"
- "I must say that your smile looks extra cute now!"
- "Remember to brush and floss...I like teeth without cavities better!"
- "All the fairies heard about how you had to wrestle and pull this tooth out. You were so brave!"
- "These pointy canine teeth are my favorites!"
- "Be careful with those sugary sweets! Besides, you are sweet enough already!"
What NOT to Do in a Tooth Fairy Letter
Definitely go the extra mile to make losing teeth fun for your kid (THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT), but don't take it too far. If you concoct an overly complicated story, your kid will be full of questions and you'll have to keep a straight face while you find answers that don't raise doubt (lie to their face). If your story is too vivid, some kids might even get scared of the Tooth Fairy. This could get really complicated, and you'll also be expected to do even better next year. Believe me...if you go overboard, you'll be sorry. :)
What the Tooth Fairy Might Leave Under the Pillow
- a few coins
- a bill or two
- special money (a silver dollar or a $2 bill)
- a small toy or gift
- a note
- a treat
- something from nature: a pressed flower, a special rock
- any combination of the above
What will you leave—money, a gift, a note, or all three?
What Is Your Family's Tradition?
Does It Have to Go Under the Pillow?!
You don't have to put the tooth or the money under the pillow. When I was a kid, I never questioned this tradition but I wish I had. I never really stopped to think how difficult it was going to be to wait until the kid was certainly asleep to sneak in there and fiddle around with their pillow without waking them up. It would have been much easier to start our family's tradition by putting the tooth somewhere else. Remember, your family's tradition is up to you—you can make it as complicated or as simple as you want!
What to Do When the Tooth Fairy Doesn't Come
It happens to the best of us: Sometimes, for one reason or another, the Tooth Fairy just doesn't show up. Maybe you're out of cash or not feeling creative or just too tired or you just plain forget. For whatever reason, if your kid wakes up to find that the Tooth Fairy has not kept her appointment, you'll have to make an excuse.
Tooth Fairy Excuses
- She was busy—so many kids have been losing teeth lately!
- Maybe she got lost—did you recently move houses or rearrange the furniture?
- Maybe she's on vacation—everyone needs a vacation sometimes!
- Maybe she ran out of Fairy Dust and couldn't fly.
- Weather prevented her from coming—the wind blew her off course or the rain kept her home.
- Maybe she came but the child wasn't sleeping, so she couldn't get the tooth.
- Maybe the household pet saw her and she flew away.
- She lost her pen or ran out of money.
If the Tooth Fairy doesn't come, don't worry about it. It happens to the best of us. One year I forgot not once, but twice! I felt so bad I gave my daughter an offer she couldn't refuse and bought the tooth for $10 (significantly more than what a tooth normally fetches in our household). Sorry, Tooth Fairy, you've been outbid! :)
What to Do With Those Tooth Fairy Letters?
Your kid might want to save the note you leave, or you might want to keep them in a memory book. If your child writes a letter back to the Tooth Fairy, you'll probably want to save that, too!
Why Do We Keep the Tooth Fairy Story Alive?
The belief that a tooth has value or power is very old. In various cultures all over the world, there are ancient traditions of leaving teeth under pillows for some Mythic Figure to collect. During the Middle Ages, Vikings paid children for their teeth and people believed that if a person got ahold of your tooth, they could gain total control over you. During northern Europe's 1200s, there were traditional tand-fés (tooth fees) paid when a child lost their first tooth.
Although I do keep a tooth or two in a jewelry box, I didn't collect them for superstition. As a mother, the Tooth Fairy story was a very useful tool to help put a positive frame on the event of losing a tooth, an occasion which can be quite long and drawn out and. . . traumatic without a fun story and a prize. The Tooth Fairy helped make the bloody act of losing teeth much more pleasant.
We started telling the story for pragmatic reasons, but continued for sentimental, nostalgic ones. . . and because it was fun.