The Tooth Fairy Index is Up! What Kids Are Getting Under Their Pillows

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One survey shows American kids received 25 percent more for a lost tooth in 2014 than they did in 2013, and that, we are told, is good news for the economy.

It pays (quite lucratively in some cases) to lose a tooth. The tooth fairy left a record $255 million under kids’ pillows in 2014.

So, just how much does an average baby tooth fetch these days?

According to the Tooth Fairy Poll from Delta Dental, a lost tooth earned about $4.36 on average in 2014, up 25 percent from $3.50 the previous year.

But the amount of money a child receives for a lost tooth varies, depending on the generosity of the tooth fairy. In New York, the tooth fairy is very charitable, leaving a whopping $13.25 per tooth. Money said that’s not the case elsewhere:

Kids who live in the South have more valuable teeth than their counterparts nationally: They average $5.16 per tooth left under the pillow, compared with $4.16 and $4.68 in the Northeast and West, respectively. Children in the stingy Midwest, on the other hand, receive only $2.83 per tooth on average.

Delta Dental said the tooth fairy poll, which started in 1998, is a good indicator of the direction of the economy. In 11 of the last 12 years, the tooth fairy giving trend has accurately indicated the movement of the S&P 500.

“As leaders in the dental benefits industry, we keep our eye on all kinds of economic indicators, and the Tooth Fairy’s record giving tracks with big gains in the major stock indexes in 2014,” said Mark Anderson, chief financial officer at Delta Dental of Arizona in a press release.

(The Money article reminds us not to be too reliant on tooth fairy payments as an economic indicator, noting that a competing tooth fairy index shows the opposite trend.)

The tooth fairy doesn’t just leave cash under children’s pillows. She often gives dental accessories, toys and books.

My 4-year-old daughter lost her first two teeth this month. We were caught off-guard and had no idea how to figure out the going rate on a lost tooth.

My daughter ended up with a $1 coin and $10 bill for her first tooth (the tooth fairy said she didn’t have any other cash), and she earned a $5 bill for her second tooth.

The tooth fairy that frequents our house rarely carries cash, so the amount our kids fetch for a tooth will likely vary each time.

What is (or was) the going rate for losing a tooth at your house? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

As those kids get older, the tooth fairy routine will start to look charmingly inexpensive compared with their dental bills. Watch this video for ways to keep the costs under control:

Stacy Johnson

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