How Much Money Does the Tooth Fairy Pay? A Lot, It Seems

How Much Money Does the Tooth Fairy Leave?

As if kids weren’t already hesitant to go to the dentist, here comes news that may make them want to avoid dental care altogether. According to surveys conducted by Delta Dental and Visa, the Tooth Fairy paid on average between $3.50 and $3.70 per tooth in 2013. That’s up from an average of $2.42 to $3 in 2012 and $2 to $2.60 in 2011. For children, there’s never been a better time to have their teeth fall out.

The recent increase is even faster, in fact, than the rise in the stock market in recent years. Even though the S&P 500 enjoyed its biggest percentage gain — 29.6% — in 16 years in 2013, the increase in average Tooth Fairy payout easily beat it, with a whopping 44.6% gain. In fact, over the 15 years Tooth Fairy payments have been tracked, the rate they’ve increased has been faster than the rise of the S&P 500. Lost teeth, apparently, are the best investment out there.

It shouldn’t be surprising, though, that the Tooth Fairy’s generosity trends with the stock market. The more money parents have, after all, the more money is likely to make it beneath children’s pillows. The so-called “Tooth Fairy Index” has been a pretty accurate economic indicator over the past 15 years. It’s even decreased in times of economic strife, such as 2008 and 2011. The last two years, however, the going rate for teeth has skyrocketed.

Does $3.50 sound like a lot for a tooth? Well, it should to a lot of people, because the most common amount left for kids is significantly less. In fact, 42% of kids receive just $1 per tooth. The overall average is brought up by the fact that 28% of children get $5 or more from the Tooth Fairy. On the other hand, $3.50 sounds like a bargain when compared to the amount typically left when a child loses his or her first tooth. The first tooth is special, and the Tooth Fairy treats it as such, leaving an average of $4.51 — over a dollar more than the other teeth.

Still, kids should be grateful for whatever they receive for their teeth (about 2% get gifts instead of cash). After all, the Tooth Fairy didn’t even visit 14% of US homes last year — a reality that truly bites.

(Sources: Delta Dental, The Huffington Post, CBS News, CNN)