Feb 27, 2023 - Economy

Tooth Fairy pulled by inflation

Average Tooth Fairy payout per lost tooth
Data: Delta Dental 2023 Original Tooth Fairy Poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Even the Tooth Fairy isn’t immune to inflation: The value of a single lost tooth is at a record high, with the average gift reaching $6.23, up from $5.36 in 2022.

Driving the news: That's a whopping 379% increase from 1998 when a lost tooth fetched $1.30 on average.

  • Delta Dental’s 2023 annual poll, released ahead of National Tooth Fairy Day on Tuesday, found the average amount parents are doling out for single lost tooth is up 16% over last year.
  • Delta Dental said the poll has “typically mirrored the economy's overall direction” and tracks with the trends of S&P 500.
  • That’s not the case this year since the average value of the lost tooth increased 16% while the S&P 500 experienced an 11% decline in the same period, Delta Dental said in its report.

How much lost teeth are worth

Delta Dental conducted the poll between Jan. 6-19 with 1,000 parents of children ages 6 to 12. The company also released regional rankings.

By the numbers: The South had the highest value of a lost tooth at $6.59, a 14% increase from last year.

  • The average in the West was $6.25, up 53% and 2 cents higher than the national average.
  • Northeast’s value dropped to $6.14 after being the highest last year with an average of $7.36 for a lost tooth.
  • The Midwest has the lowest value of a lost tooth at $5.63 but that was up $1.36 or 32% from last year.

Meanwhile, 20% of children are receiving money and something else like a physical gift for each tooth they lose, the survey found.

Parents are often shelling out more cash for the first lost tooth, considered a childhood milestone.

  • The average value of a first tooth is $7.29, more than $1 more than what the typical tooth receives, the survey found.

What's next: Delta Dental predicts that at the rate values have increased in the poll's 25 years, it's possible that by 2048 the Tooth Fairy could be leaving $30 under the pillow for a single tooth.

  • “Given the projection, it would be in the Tooth Fairy’s best interest to invest in a larger purse,” said Delta Dental Plans Association spokesperson Gabriella Ferroni.

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