The tooth is out there

Just what does the Tooth Fairy do with all of those teeth? The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s new video The Tooth Fairy File is a “mockumentary” that answers that mysterious question.

The museum joined with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry to promote the history of dental health—and to let people know about the Tooth Fairy at the museum. The video, along with blog posts and historic information, is an effort to attract young visitors, ages six to eight, to the Smithsonian; its February release coincides with National Children’s Dental Health Month.

The video features John Gray, the museum’s director, curators, security guards, public program staff and children from the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, who serve as guides on a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum’s photo history, archives, music, sports and entertainment storage rooms as well as other on-site locations not typically seen by the public.

In an effort  to unravel mysterious happenings at the museum, the guides discover clues in the form of objects from the museum’s collection: a 1930s New Deal-era puppet, examples of 19th-century photography, mid-20th-century sheet music, a tooth key from the early 1800s and the museum’s extensive coin collection. The video also references Ratoncito Pérez, the South and Central American version of the tooth fairy.

The story leads viewers to discover the object that unites all of the clues—a fairy’s cache of teeth hidden in the ceiling of a display case, confirming to children that the museum is indeed where the Tooth Fairy deposits the teeth she collects. (Actually, the teeth are artificial. They date from the mid-20th century and are part of the Smithsonian’s dental collection.)

The cache of teeth will be on display in one of the Artifact Walls on the first floor beginning Feb. 12.

Watch “The Tooth Fairy Files” and get the straight tooth.

Posted: 12 February 2013
About the Author:

Marilyn Epstein is an editor in the Office of Communications and External Relations.