Yesterday, my seven-year-old daughter lost one of her top front teeth. Along with the tooth, she put a note under pillow asking the Tooth Fairy what she does with all the teeth she collects. This was the Tooth Fairy’s response:
Congratulations on losing your tooth! I have been waiting a LONG time for this one to come out.
Also, thank you for the very polite note.
There are two things that might surprise you.
First, you would be surprised how few children ask me what I do with the teeth I collect. I believe that many of them are curious about it, but they do not ask me. Maybe they feel like it would be rude. Or maybe their parents tell them not to ask so many questions. But I am glad you were brave enough to ask.
Second, you would be surprised to hear some of the totally WEIRD ideas people have about what I do with the teeth. One child asked me in a letter if I string them together on a really long necklace that trails along behind me when I walk. Umm, creepy! Another told me he thought I used the teeth to make mosaic art (do you know what that is?), or that I used them to tile my shower. Huh?
I once heard a father tell his daughter that I am using the teeth to build a palace in the Sky. Not even! I don’t need a palace. I actually live in a small apartment above a Korean grocery store in a place called New York City. I leave my apartment every afternoon at 4:30 p.m. so I can stop by the bank before it closes. That is where I keep all the coins and dollar bills I am going to leave under kids’ pillows. I go back to my apartment for a quick dinner. I watch some TV or read a book. And then at 7:00, when some of the youngest children have just fallen asleep, I start visiting houses, tiptoeing down hallways quiet as a mouse.
Here are some other things I do not do with the baby teeth I collect:
- Recycle them as new teeth in other kids’ mouths
- Fashion them into elephant tusks
- Use them to line the bottom of the world’s largest home aquarium
- Hoard them in a cave like a dragon hoards gold
The strangest rumor I have ever heard was that I grind up the teeth to make the sand at the beach. Can you imagine? That would mean that every time you went to the beach and you got sand in your swimsuit or between your toes or in your hair — all those hard to clean places — that you would be trying to shake out POWDERED TEETH. You would make sand castles with teeth, shovel teeth, have your mommy and daddy bury you up to your neck in TEETH. If you ever meet someone who thinks I use teeth to make sand, please tell them that you know for a fact that it is not true. Tell them that sand is made from rock, and that teeth are made from something called “enamel.” If you want, tell them you heard it straight from me.
The truth, I’m afraid, is much more boring. You see, after I had been the Tooth Fairy for a while, teeth were piling up in every corner of the room. And despite what those other people think, there really isn’t anything you can do with teeth once they are out of someone’s mouth. Teeth are made for biting and cutting and crushing and chewing. That’s pretty much it.
So what I do is give the teeth to dental schools. Have you seen those models of teeth in your dentist’s office? I make those. This is what I do during the first part of day. I make and sell them to colleges so that future dentists can practice brushing, cleaning, and fixing teeth. The money I get I just put in the bank, and then eventually under a child’s pillow. It’s a simple life, but that suits me just fine.
Most dentists don’t know that the Tooth Fairy is the one making and selling those practice teeth. They think the teeth are only plastic. They think I’m just some woman living above a Korean grocer in New York City. But that just goes to show you — most people are way more mysterious and magical and wonderful than they first appear. That’s why you have to ask the questions.
The Tooth Fairy
Update: The correspondence continues…