As a kid, the idea of the tooth fairy can be magical, fun, even thrilling. As a parent, it can be anything but.
If you have ever freaked out after hearing how much money the fluttering creature brings your kid’s toothless friends, have woken up in the morning panicked because you realized you forgot to shimmy some money under your child’s pillow, or have just gotten downright frustrated with the tooth fairy, you’re not alone.
It’s no wonder people have a hard time determining the tooth fairy’s payout in their own homes ― the rates are all over the place.
What the surveys say
The Original Tooth Fairy Poll (yes, that is a thing) sponsored by Delta Dental, which has been recording rates since 1998, saw an all-time high average in 2016. The fairy was forking over about $4.66 per tooth then, a 75-cent increase compared to 2015. Since then, the going rate for a lost tooth has seen a decline.
In its 2018 results, the Original Tooth Fairy Poll found that kids earned an average of $4.13 per tooth. The latest poll results released in February made up of about 1,000 surveyed parents of kids ages 6 to 12 revealed that the number hit below $4 at $3.70 for a lost tooth. Despite this lower number, this year’s survey results showed that a little more than a third of parents gave kids $5 or more when they lose a tooth.
In 2015, Visa found that $1 was by far the most popular amount for the tooth fairy to leave behind, based on 4,027 telephone interviews conducted from May to June 2015 (32 percent of those surveyed reported this amount). The average per tooth was $3.19.
The fairy was a bit more willing to part with her money for some kids, though. Almost one-fifth of the Visa survey participants said the fairy offered $5 for a tooth, and about five percent said the flying being left $20 (!) or more.
What the parents say
Michelle Olson-Rogers, the mother behind the site Modern Boca Mom, told HuffPost she’s heard of some parents going above and beyond to celebrate their kids’ toothless grins, including a mom on Facebook who left $50 as the tooth fairy.
“That seemed insane to me!” she said via email. “After speaking to more friends, I found the going rate to be closer to the $1 to $5 range per tooth. Perhaps a little more for the first tooth.”
Olson-Rogers said the tooth fairy has visited her daughter twice so far, leaving a $1 bill covered in glitter both times.
Kristina C. behind the blog The Mommy Rundown told HuffPost her guideline for her kids is $5 for the first tooth and then $2 or $3 for subsequent teeth.
“Depending on how many singles I have on me, to be honest,” she joked.
She once had to come up with something to say after her daughter came home and said a friend got $20 for a lost tooth after she got $3 under her pillow.
“I just told her that’s really great, but that tooth fairy must have worked extra hours or just had a really good day,” she said. “I said that’s really great, but I guess your tooth fairy was just out of luck.”
How different generations compare
If you’re looking at these numbers and thinking, “I never got that much from the tooth fairy when I was a kid,” a 2018 survey from LendEDU, a personal finance marketplace, might make you think twice. The company surveyed 400 baby boomers, 438 generation Xers and 400 millennials in an online poll in March 2018 and asked how much they received from the tooth fairy as a kid.
LendEDU’s results reflect that baby boomers (ages 54 and older) received an average of $0.69 per lost tooth. Generation Xers (ages 39 to 53) received $1.39, while millennials (ages 24 to 38) got $2.13. The company adjusted the rates for inflation using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator and found that on average, the tooth fairy left behind about $5.77 per tooth for baby boomers, $5.54 for generation Xers and $3.72 for millennials. That fairy is quite generous.
Of course, these surveys only give you a sample of the tooth fairy trends in the United States. Factors like the state of the market and a family’s income can play significant roles. And if you want to get creative with what the tooth fairy leaves, there are always Etsy and Pinterest.
There is one stat, though, that might make caretakers playing the role of fairy breathe a sigh of relief.
According to the 2018 Original Tooth Fairy Poll results, more than half the parents surveyed (about 55 percent) said they the tooth fairy may have missed a visit a time or two.
At least you’ve got that going for you, dental liaisons.
This post has been updated to include new survey results and quotes from parents.