Ratón Pérez, the Tooth Fairy of Hispanic Culture

February is Dental Health Month, a time to teach our little ones ways to keep their teeth healthy.  As kids turn four or five years old, losing the first tooth is a big milestone! Visits from the Tooth Fairy are a favorite topic of discussion among friends.  But did you know that in Spain and Latin America, a different visitor retrieves lost teeth and leaves behind a gift? His name is Ratón Pérez and here’s his story!

The Story of Ratón Pérez

Ratón Pérez, also known in some countries as Ratoncito Pérez, or El Ratón de Los Dientes, first appeared as a supporting character in a Spanish storybook in 1877.  In 1894, he appeared anew in a starring role when author Luis Coloma was commissioned to write a book for the young Spanish king, Alfonso VIII when he lost his first tooth at age 8.  In this book, Ratón Pérez begins his gig as a collector of lost teeth in the city of Madrid.  As the story goes, he lived in a box of cookies. He explores the city of Madrid through underground pipes and visits the bedrooms of children who have just lost a tooth.  In the story, the mouse meets a young king (based on Alfonso) and begins a charming friendship.

The tale of Ratoncito Pérez is such a beloved part of Spanish folklore that the Madrid warehouse where he was supposed to have lived even has a plaque in his honor!  In fact, the legend is so popular that it has spread throughout other Spanish-speaking countries. Each night around the world, little ones are leaving their lost dientes under their pillows (or in glasses of water) hoping Ratoncito Pérez will come and exchange the teeth for a little gift!  

Raton Peréz plaque in Madrid
Raton Peréz sign in Madrid

Ratoncito Pérez is a popular figure to this day and has been portrayed on television, in animated films, and books like The Tooth Fairy Meets El Raton Pérez and La Cucarachita Martina y el Ratoncito Pérez.

Raton Peréz the movie

Keeping Young Teeth Healthy

In addition to sharing fun stories about collectors of teeth, we spend lots of time at school this month learning about keeping our bodies healthy.  We talk about healthy eating, exercise, the best way to brush teeth, the importance of flossing, and about the ways dentists and hygienists keep our teeth strong and healthy.  If it’s sometimes a challenge getting your little ones to brush, try these tips: How do I get my preschooler to let me brush her teeth?

Building good dental habits takes dedication, but pays off in the long run with healthy, happy smiles!  With the help of the Tooth Fairy, Ratoncito Peréz, and even Periquito Azul, we hope our Dental Health Month activities will make your child proud to flash those “pearly whites!” 

Spanish Schoolhouse preschoolers learn about dental health
Spanish Schoolhouse preschoolers learn about dental health with a visit from local dentist Linda A. Steele, DDS
Spanish Schoolhouse preschooler learning about dental health

So, what do you think?