The Tooth Fairy Is a Little Stingier This Year. Here’s What She’s Paying

Shot of a mother turning off the light as her son sleeps
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Do you remember how much money the tooth fairy left you when you were a kid?

A quarter? Fifty cents? A dollar?

That’s nothing compared to what children are getting these days.

According to the most recent results of the Original Tooth Fairy Poll, parents are leaving an average of $4.13 per tooth under their kids’ pillows.

The payout actually declined from the previous year’s average of $4.66 — an all-time high for the annual poll conducted by Delta Dental.

If your kid is losing his or her first tooth, be prepared to pay more. The current average first-tooth rate is $5.70 — down slightly from the previous year’s average of $5.72.

Tooth-fairy rates also vary from region to region. The poll found parents in the West give the most: an average of $4.85 per tooth, with a premium of $6.76 for children losing their first tooth.

Parents in the Northeast paid an average of $4.35 a tooth, or $6.45 for a first tooth. Those in the South paid $4.12 per tooth or $5.68 for a first tooth. Midwest tooth fairies left an average of $3.44 a tooth, or $4.37 for a first tooth.

Some parents decide to go a little overboard, keeping the lie magic of the tooth fairy alive. The Original Tooth Fairy Poll found 47% of parents leave a small toy or game, and 35% pen a letter from the fairy herself (a lost-tooth certificate might be a nice accompaniment) .

Thirty-one percent gift a new toothbrush — a great way to promote dental hygiene.  

Most (95%) of parents posing as the tooth fairy leave these extras in addition to leaving money. But that doesn’t mean everybody leaves tooth-fairy money and goodies under their child’s pillow.

If you’re on a tight budget (or just don’t feel like lying to your kid about yet another mythical being who sneaks into your home in the middle of the night), don’t feel guilty forgoing tooth-fairy activities. Sixteen percent of poll respondents with kids ages 6 to 12 do not make tooth-fairy visits.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She enjoys writing about parenting and money.