Cash on Hand Determines What the Tooth Fairy Gives

Dentistry Today


Several circumstances determine how much the Tooth Fairy leaves under the pillow when children lose a tooth, according to Delta Dental’s Original Tooth Fairy Poll. The number one factor, reported by 46% of parents, is how much spare cash they have on hand, followed by:

  • The age of the child (31%)
  • An amount comparable to what the parents received when they were a child (29%)
  • The recent behavior of the child (20%)
  • How many teeth the child has already lost (18%)

The poll also reports that the average cash gift is $3.70, which is down 43 cents from a year ago, though not all parents follow the national average. For example, 37% of parents give at least $5.00 or more. Also, the first tooth usually is cause for a larger gift, with an average of $4.96.

Delta Dental has been tracking the Tooth Fairy’s annual giving trends for more than two decades. While the average value of a lost tooth may have slipped since last year, it is much greater than the 1998 national average of $1.30, which is about $2.00 today with inflation.

Plus, Delta Dental says the Original Tooth Fairy Poll has served as a good indicator of the economy’s overall direction, tracking with the movement of Standard & Poor’s 500 Index for 14 of the past 17 years.

A year ago, a single lost tooth was valued at $4.13 and dropped to $3.70 in this year’s survey, down 10%. Over the same time period, Standard & Poor’s 500 Index also saw a decline and decreased by 3%. 

“Most parents say that the Tooth Fairy is bringing excitement and joy to their children, with more than one-third of caregivers sharing that the Tooth Fairy instills good oral health habits,” said Jennifer Elliott, chief marketing officer for the Delta Dental Plans Association. 

“With the Tooth Fairy Tradition, oral health conversations are being regularly initiated in households across America with a spark of fun,” Elliott said.

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