The tooth fairy is getting stingier, new report says
Feb 26, 2019
You might be a baby boomer if you think the tooth fairy is still handing out quarters.
In fact, the going rate for a lost tooth is $3.70 this year, continuing the downward trend of the past two years, according to Delta Dental’s annual survey of tooth fairy generosity.
The West leads other regions of the U.S., with an average payout of $4.19.
The South comes in second, at $3.91.
In the Northeast and Midwest, delivery costs must take a bite out of proceeds since the tooth fairy delivers just $3.75 and $2.97, respectively, there.
Delta Dental, which provides dental insurance, has been tracking the going rate for lost teeth since 1998, when the average payout was $1.30, the company said in a news release.
With inflation, that amounts to about $2 today.
Delta Dental says its poll is a good measure of the U.S. economy overall, as tooth fairy proceeds have tracked 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 percent. Over the same time period, the S&P 500 also saw a decline and decreased by 3 percent,” the company said.
That’s better than Punxsutawney Phil’s track record of predicting an early spring. The Pennsylvania groundhog has only been right 36 percent of the time since 1969, according to Remy Melina, writing in Live Science.
Of course, $3.70 is just the average. In the poll of 1,058 parents, conducted the first two weeks of January, 37 percent of parents — we mean, tooth fairies — said they give a child $5 or more.
And the first lost tooth garners a premium, bringing in an average of $4.96, $1.26 above the average for less celebrated teeth.
Andre Richards, assistant vice president of brand strategy and management at Delta Dental Plans Association, explained to Ben Tobin, of USA Today, why the rates vary.
“Payouts for a lost tooth can be influenced by several things, such as what parents received when they were young, a child’s age, how many teeth a child has already lost, oral health habits and whether it is the monumental first lost tooth,” Richards said.
Children have about 20 baby teeth, which start to erupt at age 6 months, according to the American Dental Association. Typically, they lose the first one around age 6 and the last one around age 12.
That’s a lot of work for the tooth fairy, not to mention a good outlay of cash. (About $84 total for a child in Utah.)
So parents should be thankful that in a few weeks, on St. Patrick’s Day, children aren’t expecting money from leprechauns — just chocolate.