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

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


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%