Feb 22, 2024 - Economy

Tooth fairy payouts drop for first time in 5 years

Average Tooth Fairy payout per lost tooth 🪄
Data: Delta Dental 2024 Original Tooth Fairy Poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

For the first time since 2019, the tooth fairy is paying less for lost teeth than the year before.

Why it matters: It's a sign that the tooth fairy's helpers — aka parents — are worn down from two years of high inflation.

The big picture: The tooth fairy's national average gift value for a single lost tooth dropped 6% to $5.84 from $6.23 last year, according to a Delta Dental survey.

  • It's still the second highest value for a lost tooth and a 349% increase from 1998 when a lost tooth fetched $1.30 on average.

Zoom out: Delta Dental, which has tracked tooth fairy trends for 26 years, says in past years its poll has "typically mirrored the economy's overall direction" and tracked with S&P 500 trends.

  • The trends went in a different direction for the second year in a row, Delta Dental says, noting the S&P 500 had a 20% increase while lost teeth experienced a small drop in the same period.

Tooth fairy's 2024 rate by region

By the numbers: Lost teeth in the West had the highest value at $8.54, a 37% increase from last year, according to the survey of 1,000 parents of children ages 6 to 12.

  • The Northeast average was $6.87, up 12%, and surpassing the national average by more than $1.
  • The South dropped from $6.59 to $5.51 this year, which is under the national average.
  • The Midwest has the lowest value of a lost tooth at $3.63, a $2 and 36% drop from 2023.

Meanwhile, parents continue to pay more cash for the first lost tooth, long considered a childhood milestone.

  • The average value of a first tooth is $7.09, down from $7.29 in 2023, the survey found.

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