12/04/2009  |  
Posted in Fun Dental Facts
Do You Know the Meaning Behind the Song “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth?”

It happens to everyone — the natural process of losing our “baby” teeth to make way for the permanent teeth. Somewhere around the age of 6, the bottom two middle teeth (lower central incisors) are usually the first to fall out, soon followed by the top two middle teeth (upper central incisors). Most of us have an embarrassing photograph from our childhood showing a wide toothless grin.

It was this natural occurrence that would become the inspiration behind the creation of one of the world's most famous children's holiday songs, “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.”

It all began during the holiday season in 1944 in an elementary school in Smithtown, New York. Donald Yetter Gardner, a 31 year old music teacher, was in his wife's second grade classroom interacting with the children when he asked them to talk about what they wanted for Christmas that year. Over and over again, he listened to the children lisping through the spaces of their missing teeth as they talked about their Christmas wishes. Inspired by this toothless discovery, he went home that night and within thirty short minutes had composed a whimsical ditty that would become an international holiday favorite.

The song was sung annually at the Smithtown elementary holiday pageant but it took several years until it finally went into publication. On December 6, 1948, Spike Jones and the City Slickers first recorded the song that rose to the number one spot on the Pop Charts in 1949. It sold nearly one and a half million copies in less than two months. The song has since been recorded by numerous artists among them; Alvin and the Chipmunks, Mariah Carey, George Strait, the Andrew Sisters, the cast of Sesame Street, the Boston Pops and Nat King Cole (which is said to be Gardner’s favorite version).

Gardner went on to become a music consultant and editor for Ginn & Co. music publishers where he composed songs for musical textbooks. During his long and very successful career, he wrote and published religious hymns, composed church music, as well as directing many choirs and community choral groups.

He is noted for his many musical accomplishments but none so famous as the children's holiday favorite, “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.” He never again enjoyed a Pop Chart hit but continued to welcome the fame that the Christmas song brought him. He once stated, “I was amazed at the way that silly little song was picked up by the whole country.” (West Chester University School of Music Alumni Newsletter, 1955)

That “silly little song,” written in just thirty minutes, continued to pay Gardner royalties for the next half century until he died in 2004 at the age of 91.


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