Tooth Fairy Gifts Down 43 Cents in 2019

Dentistry Today


Times are tight, even for the Tooth Fairy. According to Delta Dental’s 2019 Original Tooth Fairy Poll, the average monetary payout for a lost tooth is down 43 cents to $3.70 since last year, though 37% of parents give at least $5.00 or more. Also, the first lost tooth garners an average of $4.96, which is $1.26 more than the subsequent teeth that are lost. 

Delta Dental has been keeping track of annual giving trends for more than two decades. It reports that while the current value of a lost tooth seems to be slipping, it is still significantly greater than the 1998 national average of $1.30 per tooth, or about $2.00 today with inflation. 

The company also notes that its poll has served as a good indicator of the economy’s overall direction, tracking with the movement of the Standard & Poor 500 Index for 14 of the past 17 years. For example, while teeth have dropped 10% from last year’s $4.13 value to $3.70 this year, the S&P 500 also saw a decline and decreased by 3%. 

The Northeast ($3.75) seems closest aligned with the national average of $3.70, though there is a $1.28 difference between the highest regional average in the United States and the lowest. Also, each region experienced a decline in the average payout amount: 

  • The West continues to lead US regions in highest average monetary gifts for a lost tooth at $4.19 but dropped 66 cents from its $4.85 total a year ago.
  • The South replaces the Northeast for the second highest regional average at $3.91 but slid by 21 cents from last year’s $4.12 total.
  • The Northeast closely follows the South at $3.75 but fell 60 cents from its $4.35 showing in 2018.
  • The Midwest averaged 73 cents less at $2.97 than the national rate of $3.70 and 47 cents lower than its $3.44 total a year ago.

There are intangible rewards too, with 56% of parents saying that the Tooth Fairy gives their kids something to be excited about. Also, 30% of kids go to bed early when they have a tooth ready for pickup. Plus, 48% of parents say their children save their Tooth Fairy earnings, and 34% believe the tradition instills good oral health habits. 

“While our Original Tooth Fairy Poll is rooted in fun, it is also interesting to see how parents are using visits from the Tooth Fairy as a learning tool in their home,” said Jennifer Elliott, chief marketing officer for the Delta Dental Plans Association. 

“Parents share that the Tooth Fairy is delivering so much more than a tangible gift for a lost tooth, such as teaching our next generation about proper oral health habits and personal financial responsibility in a memorable way,” said Elliott. 

The survey was conducted between December 31, 2018, and January 13, 2019, among a nationally representative sample of 1,058 parents of children between the ages of 6 and 12, with a margin of error of +/– 3%.

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