The Tooth Fairy Pays How Much!? Here’s How Your Household Stacks up

The Tooth Fairy Pays How Much!? Here’s How Your Household Stacks up
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It’s tooth fairy time. As I’m sure you all know, Tuesday is National Tooth Fairy Day.

(Why is Tooth Fairy Day held on Feb. 28, you ask? I have no idea why. Couldn’t say.)

This got us wondering: What’s the going rate for the tooth fairy? What kind of cash is the tooth fairy shelling out for kids’ loose teeth these days?

The answer surprised us. And maybe it says a little something about where we are as a society these days.

The Tooth Fairy’s Insane Inflation Rates

It turns out the tooth fairy has been in business since the 1920s, when she (or he or it) started leaving nickels and dimes under the pillows of sleeping children.

Naturally, as the decades passed, tooth fairy inflation took hold.

When I was little and started losing my baby teeth, my parents -- my own personal tooth fairies -- would slip a dollar bill beneath my pillow for every tooth I lost. I think I got a silver dollar once.

Now that I’m grown and have wiggly toothed children of my own, this sacred duty has passed on to me. So I tiptoe into my kids’ bedrooms in the dark of night, cash in hand, to spirit away their lost teeth. The first time I did this, I felt like I was being inducted into the tooth fairy Mafia.

For each tooth, I leave behind a crisp $1 bill and a chocolate coin. I guess I’m kind of a frugal fairy. Heck, for all I know, maybe I’m a stingy cheapskate tooth fairy. I decided to do some research on what other parents are paying.

Holy cow. Some of these other tooth fairies are apparently emptying their wallets.

In its 2015 annual survey on tooth fairy rates (not kidding), Visa found that:

  • 1 in 3 American parents give their kids $1 per tooth.
  • 1 in 5 give their kids $5 per tooth.
  • 10% of kids get nothing.
  • 5% of kids get $20 or more per tooth.

Whaaaaat? Twenty bucks? Since when is the tooth fairy some kind of sugar daddy? For some of these kids, the teething business has become quite a lucrative racket.

Children lose 20 baby teeth to make room for their adult teeth, typically between the ages of 5 and 12. At $20 for each of those pearly whites, a mouthful of baby teeth would be valued at $400.

Of course, those are the most well-heeled tooth fairies we’re talking about. Still, the going rate for loose teeth is rising these days.

Last year, the average payout per tooth soared to $4.66 -- an all-time high -- according to Delta Dental, an insurance carrier that conducts something called the Original Tooth Fairy Poll.

Tooth fairy payment rates -- is there an app for that? Don’t be silly — of course there’s an app for that.

What Penny Hoarding Tooth Fairies Pay

In the name of research, we asked members of The Penny Hoarder Facebook community group this: What’s the going rate in YOUR home?

“$5 for the first tooth, $1 each thereafter,” said Becky Kemmerer, a mother of three from Pittsburgh.

“We usually do $1 and some loose change,” said Gina Smith, a mother of two in New Hampshire.

“We give $5 a tooth,” said Julie Hotze, mother of four. “All of my kids have savings accounts at the bank and they love taking their money and making a deposit, so it is money well spent.”

“Growing up at our house, the Tooth Fairy also rewarded us for good grades that semester, so it varied,” said Heidi Bryce, social media community manager at The Penny Hoarder. “We’d get up to $10 per tooth -- or end up owing her $1.”

Additional Tooth Fairy Findings

Aside from how much cash we’re all forking over for lost teeth, that Original Tooth Fairy Poll has unearthed some interesting tooth fairy-related findings:

  • Mom, not dad, is the tooth fairy three-fourths of the time.
  • Absent-minded tooth fairies! In 35% of homes, the tooth fairy has forgotten to retrieve a tooth. Oops.
  • The tooth fairy typically visits between 10 p.m. and midnight.
  • Instead of just cash, more tooth fairies are leaving behind toothbrushes, toothpaste or floss.

The Tooth Fairy's Official Lost Tooth Certificate

We partnered with the tooth fairy to bring you this super-official way to document all the lost teeth among our youngest Penny Hoarders.

Print this certificate as proof that the tooth fairy stopped by.

Family Fairy Customs

So there you have it. Some kids get $20 from the tooth fairy. Some get $1 or $5. Some get nothing. You could call it a metaphor for our society, although that’s probably a little heavy.

What you could do is create your own personal tooth fairy custom -- some kind of fun and exciting family touchstone that your children will remember long after they get all their grown-up teeth.

Some popular mommy blogs have asked readers what they leave under their kids’ pillows, and we like some of these ideas:

  • A dollar bill folded into origami.
  • A single gold dollar coin sprinkled with glitter.
  • A form from the Department of Dental Enchantment.
  • Clues that lead to a prize.
  • A $2 bill, which you can get from your bank.
  • A bill that’s been rubbed with glittery, shimmery eye shadow, or “fairy dust”

At least we’ve advanced beyond the Middle Ages, when parents buried or burned their children’s baby teeth to keep them from the hands of witches.

Yup, gotta watch out for those witches.

Happy National Tooth Fairy Day!

Your Turn: What’s the going rate for the tooth fairy in your house?

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s got two kids. He digs being the tooth fairy.