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Top five factors the Tooth Fairy ponders in deciding lost teeth rewards

Posted on August 28, 2019 in Children’s Oral Health


Tooth Fairy Index Rewarding children for lost teeth is an age-old tradition … and a little more complex of a job than the Tooth Fairy lets on. The Original Tooth Fairy Poll®, sponsored by Delta Dental, indicates that several circumstances may determine the amount the Tooth Fairy gifts. The No. 1 guiding factor is how much spare cash the Tooth Fairy has on hand (46%).

So, what other key considerations may influence the Tooth Fairy’s generosity?

  • No. 2: Children’s ages (31%) set the value of a lost tooth.

  • No. 3: The Tooth Fairy remembers historical payouts and then determines comparable amounts to what children’s parents received when they were young (29%).

  • No. 4: Santa isn’t the only one keeping a list! The Tooth Fairy is mindful of kids’ recent behaviors indicates 1 in 5 parents (20%).

  • No. 5: The Tooth Fairy is keeping a tally of lost teeth. How many teeth children have already lost (18%) is a top factor in deciding monetary rewards.

Tooth Fairy payouts slide for second year in a row

According to the Original Tooth Fairy Poll, the Tooth Fairy’s average cash gift declined to $3.70 for a lost tooth, which is down by 43 cents from a year ago.

Not all parents say the Tooth Fairy is following the national average. In homes that the Tooth Fairy visits, close to 2 in 5 parents (37%) share that their children receive at least $5.00 or more. Also, a first lost tooth continues to impress. The Tooth Fairy appears to recognize that this is a monumental tooth as indicated by kids’ receiving an average gift of $4.96, representing $1.26 above the $3.70 average for subsequent lost teeth.

Delta Dental has been gauging the Tooth Fairy’s U.S. annual giving trends for more than two decades. The disclosed value of a lost tooth may be slipping but is significantly greater than the 1998 national average of $1.30, which equates 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%. Over the same time period, the S&P 500 also saw a decline and decreased by 3%.

For more oral health resources to for children and adults, please visit https://www.deltadentalil.com/oral-health/

About the survey

The Original Tooth Fairy Poll was conducted between December 31, 2018, and January 13, 2019, among a nationally representative sample of 1,058 parents of children ages 6-12. The margin of error is +/- 3%.

The S&P 500 stood at 2,687 on December 28, 2017, and decreased to 2,596 by January 11, 2019, down 3%