Tooth Fairy Index Shows Dropping Tooth Payouts

Since the early 1900s, many American children have participated in a fun tradition that combines a childhood rite of passage with a bit of fun and mystery. That tradition is the tooth fairy, and chances are, whether you’re a parent or a child, you’ve at least heard of her.

The earliest known mention of the tooth fairy tradition dates back to the 1920s in a play called “The Tooth Fairy,” though other countries and cultures have their own versions of tooth fairies that date further back. For example, children in France leave their teeth for a mouse they call La Petite Souris. In Spain, children leave their teeth for Ratoncito Perez, a rat or mouse, depending on who you ask.

What all these traditions have in common – besides the taking away of baby teeth in the night – is that each figure leaves behind a prize in the form of a trinket or money. Getting paid for body parts you don’t need anymore? Not a bad deal if you think about it! But recently, the tooth fairy has been making headlines about just what she’s leaving behind when she takes those precious baby teeth away.

“Apparently, the going rate for baby teeth is dropping,” says Dr. Allison Lesko, a dentist from Fort Collins, Colorado.

She’s not wrong. According to a recent Delta Dental survey, the average payout for a baby tooth dropped 43 cents here in the United States in 2018. Using an admittedly adorable chart called the “Tooth Fairy Index,” Delta Dental provides average rates for tooth payouts around the globe.

For instance, children receive an average of 3.26 euros per tooth in Ireland, and $4.88 CAD in Canada. Here in the United States, the annual average is now just $3.70. So why the drop?

“I’d say budgets are tight, but I think part of it is parents rewarding kids with different types of prizes than monetary,” says Lesko. “I’ve heard some parents offer extended screen time or later bedtimes, which don’t cost anything but are a big deal to kids.”

The survey also found that children’s first teeth netted a higher payout than subsequent lost teeth, at an average of $4.96, and the rates per tooth vary depending on where in the United States the child resides.

“Here in the western part of the country, we average a little bit higher per tooth at $4.91,” Lesko says. “But in the Southern United States the average is only $3.91, and the Northeast is around $3.75 per tooth.”


Infant Oral Hygiene

Whether you’re a first-time parent or consider yourself an old pro, it’s not uncommon to have questions about your infant’s oral health routine. From when to start to how to get started, the idea of caring for baby’s teeth can be overwhelming to say the least. But there’s no need to panic, mom and dad! You’ve got this. Here’s your primer for infant oral health care.

When to Start

Many people believe that the best time to start caring for their child’s teeth is when the first tooth erupts. This makes a lot of sense, but believe it or not you can actually start caring for baby’s teeth a lot sooner – before he or she even has teeth! By simply swabbing the gums with a gauze-covered finger and fluoride-free toothpaste twice a day, you are setting your baby up for a lifetime of good oral hygiene. Why start before teeth appear? There are two major reasons. First, it cleans the gums, keeping them free of bacteria and germs. Second, it gets your baby used to the feeling of having his or her teeth cleaned, so that when the first tooth does appear, your baby will let you clean it without putting up a fight.

What to Use

Before your child is old enough to spit out toothpaste, you should use fluoride-free paste to keep teeth and gums clean. Make sure you are either supplementing this with fluoridated water or receiving fluoride tablets or drops from your dentist. For infants with no teeth, you can gently swab gums with a piece of gauze or rubber gloves. Once baby’s first tooth appears, an infant toothbrush can be used.

When to See the Dentist

Another common question we hear is when babies should have their first dentist appointment. There is no set age for bringing an infant to the dentist. We recommend you bring him or her in for a first dental exam within six months of the first tooth erupting.

What Happens at Baby’s First Dental Exam?

Most first dental visits will be very brief. Baby’s teeth will be examined and counted, and good oral hygiene practices will be reviewed with the parents. Parents will be directed to schedule their next appointment within six to 12 months of the first, to keep baby comfortable with coming to the dentist.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lesko, please call 970-812-0355.