There are times in every child’s life when it seems like the Tooth Fairy ‘forgot to come’. Let me clear that up right now: THE TOOTH FAIRY DOES NOT FORGET TO COME. Like, ever.
But at some point in their childhood (and their 20 baby teeth), every child will find themselves the victim of a ‘forgotten’ tooth. Imagine the crushing feeling a child has when they flip over their pillow to find…nothing. Or worse, their tooth. There may be crying on the child’s part, bumbling explanations on the parent’s part, and let’s be honest—it’s heartbreaking for everyone involved.
So what happened? If the Tooth Fairy DOESN’T EVER FORGET TO COME, why are teeth sometimes left behind?
I am here to clarify some of the details of how the Tooth Fairy operates so that you can impart this knowledge to your children as the need arises.
Did a tooth not get picked up by the tooth fairy? Here are some of the most common reasons it seems like the Tooth Fairy forgot:
- If a tooth is wiggled out after 8pm. This is just a logistics situation. Unless the tooth fairy is already in your neighborhood, teeth wiggled out late at night may have to wait until the next night’s schedule to get picked up. This is why I enforce a strict ‘no wiggling after 8pm’ rule at our house–to avoid this disappointment.
- If it’s windy. The Tooth Fairy has a difficult time flying in high winds. Of course, you may not know there were winds during the night until the next morning. If there is no other explanation for a missed tooth pick-up, this is usually why.
- If it is rainy or snowy. See #2.
- If the tooth isn’t left in a readily-accessible area. This is the second most common reason a tooth may be missed. Sometimes a tooth gets bumped out from under the pillow by a sleeping child, gets buried in stuffed animals or tangled in bedding. Remember, the Tooth Fairy is tiny and she may not be able to move things around to get to a tooth.
Tips for kids and parents—how you can help the Tooth Fairy!
- To ensure a Tooth Fairy-compatible pickup, set an alarm on your phone as a reminder to check on the tooth before your own bedtime. That way, you can ascertain that a tooth has been properly placed by your child and that it has not become trapped or accidentally pushed off the bed where the Tooth Fairy cannot reach it.
- Some families have adopted the habit of putting a lost tooth on the kitchen counter where it is easily visualized and reachable by the Tooth Fairy. She takes the tooth and leaves her gift in exchange on the counter. Concerned children can leave a note under their pillow to alert her to where the tooth is. Notes, for some reason, don’t seem to get lost as easily as teeth.
- If your child loses a tooth when they are away from home (like a sleepover or on vacation) please make sure they know that there is no guarantee that your Tooth Fairy will be able to get to them. It just depends. There are no-fly zones and special laws that vary between states and countries that sometimes make it impossible. Just have your child keep their tooth stored safely with their toothbrush until they can set it out once they return home. Because they will likely be tired from their trip, it’s a good idea to set that alarm to double-check their tooth-placement accuracy.
Fun fact: Did you know that there are, in fact, multiple Tooth Fairies? They tend to stick with a family over several generations which is why your child may receive similar loot to what you received but why it may be different then what the neighbor kid gets.
The Tooth Fairy sometimes gets a bad rap when a disappointed child believes they have been forgotten. But I believe a better understanding of what the Tooth Fairy is up against and the constraints she must operate under will help alleviate the wailing and gnashing of teeth by children and their parents. There is some onus on parents and children to be sure that a tooth is compatible for pickup and to have a reasonable expectation in regards to weather and other factors that might impact the Tooth Fairy’s ability to exchange a tooth.
The Tooth Fairy does not forget. Ever. So if there is a problem, it’s on us. Let’s make it as easy possible for the Tooth Fairy to do her job!