Delta Dental Association tells NBC News that the Tooth Fairy was busy last year, leaving a quarter billion dollars under children’s pillows across the US in 2014 — an average of $4.36 per tooth, which increased 25% from $3.50 in 2013.
First-time-tooth losers received an average of $5.75 for that first tooth to go. The survey found that for children of parents under 35, the tooth fairy left an average of $5.40. Those with parents aged 35-44 found about $4.24 under their pillows, and kids with parents older than 45 found an average of $2.45 per tooth.
Capitalism at its best is how Burt Constable of suburban Chicago’s Daily Herald describes it. Santa Claus gives children presents as a reward for stellar behavior. The Easter Bunny brings chocolates and confections to children of the faith everywhere. The Tooth Fairy has no agenda at all – when the child leaves a tooth beneath his or her pillow, the fairy leaves a monetary gift at fair market value.
“The Tooth Fairy left $255 million for lost teeth last year. She’s a rich lady, that Tooth Fairy,” says Darci Shaw, associate director of marketing communications for the not-for-profit national network of independent dental service corporations that has been conducting The Original Tooth Fairy Poll since 1998.
Surprisingly, the Tooth Fairy’s gifts often reflect the performance of the stock market. Standard & Poor’s 500 index posted an 11.4% gain in 2014, and the Tooth Fairy’s deposits jumped 24.6%.
But like the real estate game, tooth prices have everything to do with location. The Tooth Fairy’s gifts tend to be lower in the suburbs, and kids in the Midwest get a puny $2.38 per tooth, which puts them at the bottom of the ladder. In the West, she gives an average of $4.68, she drops $4.16 in the Northeast, and children in the South reap a tidy $5.16 per tooth.
A Tooth Fairy Museum in Deerfield, Illinois, which operated out of the home Rosemary Wells, a professor at Northwestern University Dental School, collected information and artifacts surrounding the illustrious Tooth Fairy. It has since closed, but Delta Dental continues to keep tabs on Ms. Fairy around the world. In Europe, the Tooth Fairy oversees elves and brownies who take care of the deliveries. In Chile and Costa Rica, it’s up to the moms to turn the baby teeth into charms and jewelry for the kids. In other Spanish-speaking countries, the teeth are gathered by a magical mouse named Perez who polishes the teeth into pearls, which he then sells to jewelers.
Canadian children are some of the luckier ones, as they receive $1.12 more per tooth than US kids.
Sadly, the Tooth Fairy “forgets” to visit 30% of homes on the first night the tooth is under the pillow. A late payment, however, is much better than a visit from a rodent in the middle of night, says Constable.
UK’s Daily Mail reports that a US oral healthcare company, Sunstar GUM, found some kids in New York City rake in $13.25 for every tooth found under their pillows, according to Yahoo Parenting. In L.A., the average is $9.69, in Chicago $5.85, Dallas/Houston $5.28, and Boston $5.02. Yahoo Parenting says that nationwide, most parents give between $1 and $5 and added that they found the excessive payments of the big city dwellers amazing.
An informal survey done on Facebook by Yahoo Parenting found that the 100 respondents from around the country said they gave $5 for the first tooth and $1 – $5 thereafter. The GUM survey found that dads gave twice as much as moms, but all survey-takers seem to be of the opinion that the importance of the Tooth Fairy was second only to Santa Claus, leaving the Easter Bunny and Elf on the Shelf in the dust.