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Baby Teeth: A Tooth Fairy Tale
Teeth are the evolutionary adaptation that makes ripping apart raw celery so laughably easy. Learn more about your very first set with Groupon’s examination of baby teeth.
All over the world, folklore and ceremony surround the loss of baby teeth—the 20 small teeth eventually replaced by 32 permanent teeth. Baby teeth—also known as milk teeth or deciduous teeth—become visible between the ages of 6 months and 3 years, though they truly begin to form during the embryonic stage of pregnancy. As a child ages, the tooth buds that once held the baby teeth eventually give way to permanent teeth, which are needed for proper development of speech and chewing of food. This transition typically occurs between ages 6 and 12.
Because the loss of baby teeth reflects the healthy growth of a human being, several cultures have developed customs revolving around the departure of deciduous teeth. In America, children leave their uprooted teeth under a pillow, waiting for the tooth fairy to slip in and deposit money in exchange for enamel. A similar figure is revered in Australia, Sweden, and Norway, though children place their teeth in a glass of water instead. In Korea, parts of India, Vietnam, and the Philippines, a child throws any tooth lost from the lower jaw onto the roof of their home and any tooth lost from their upper jaw directly into the floor. This act is often accompanied by a wish to receive a valuable mouse tooth in return, since mice’s teeth grow throughout their entire lives.