Tooth Fairy payouts plunge for second consecutive year

Leslie Penkunas//February 21, 2019

Tooth Fairy payouts plunge for second consecutive year

Leslie Penkunas//February 21, 2019

The Tooth Fairy’s purse strings appear to be tighter than a year ago, according to the newly released annual Tooth Fairy Poll.  The national average monetary payout has dropped by 43 cents from the previous year, to $3.70 for a lost tooth.

Not all parents say the Tooth Fairy is following the national average. In homes that the Tooth Fairy visits, 37 percent of survey respondents shared they give their child at least $5.00 or more. Also, a first lost tooth continues to impress. Parents report that the Tooth Fairy, on average provides $4.96 for that very first tooth (typically one of the two lower center incisors), representing $1.26 above the average for subsequent teeth lost.

The annual Tooth Fairy Poll, sponsored by Delta Dental, has been gauging the Tooth Fairy’s U.S. annual giving trends for more than two decades. The newly disclosed value of a lost tooth may be slipping, but it is still significantly greater than the 1998 national average of $1.30, which would equate to about $2.00 today with inflation.

Value of lost tooth and economy
The Original Tooth Fairy Poll has typically served as a good indicator of the economy’s overall direction, tracking with the movement of Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500) 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 percent. Over the same time period, the S&P 500 also saw a decline and decreased by 3 percent.

U.S. regional snapshot
Our northeast region, with an average Tooth Fairy payout of $3.75 per tooth, is most closely aligned with the national average ($3.70). Delta Dental’s latest annual poll identifies a $1.28 difference between the highest U.S. regional average to the lowest. The Tooth Fairy’s stingy streak looks to transcend all regions, with each experiencing a decline in the average payout amount. Additional regional highlights include:

  • $4.19 — The West: While this region continues to lead U.S. in highest average monetary gifts for a lost tooth, the payout has dropped 66 cents compared to a year ago.
  • $3.91 — The South: This year, the Tooth Fairy’s funding in the South surpassed that of the Northeast, but still slid by 21 cents per tooth when looking back a year.
  • $3.75 — The Northeast: Our region closely follows the South in average Tooth Fairy payout; however, this new amount represents a drop of 60 cents from the previous poll.
  • $2.97 — The Midwest: This region has the most frugal Tooth Fairy activity, coming in at 73 cents below than the national average and 47 cents lower than a year ago.

Other stats from homes visited by the Tooth Fairy

  • Joy: 56 percent of parents reported that the Tooth Fairy gives their children something to be excited about.
  • Bedtime: 30 percent of parents reported that the imminent arrival of the Tooth Fairy results in their children going to bed earlier than usual. Whether they feel asleep sooner was not reported.
  • Savers: 48 percent of parents said that their children choose to save their Tooth Fairy earnings, rather than spend it right away.
  • Oral health: 34 percent of parents agreed that the Tooth Fairy instills good oral health habits.




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