Even the Tooth Fairy Can't Escape Inflation

Last year a lone tooth went for an average $5.36; this year it's $6.23
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2023 9:15 AM CST
Inflation Hits the Tooth Fairy
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/dallasgolden)

Time to pony up, parents—er, we mean, tooth fairies. Last year, a single tooth placed under a child's pillow earned that kid an average $5.36. Inflation has come for even mythical beings, however, with Axios reporting that the cost for fallen molars and incisors has shot up to $6.23 per tooth—a 16% rise over 2022. The new tabulation comes courtesy of Delta Dental, citing its annual Original Tooth Fairy Poll that surveyed 1,000 parents of kids ages 6 to 12 last month.

A regional breakdown shows that children in the South receive an average $6.59 (a 14% increase over 2022), while Midwestern kids settle for the lowest payout at $5.63, though that showed a $1.36 jump, or 32% rise, over last year. For context, a tooth that dropped a quarter century ago, in 1998, brought in just $1.30. Delta Dental notes that its poll has "typically mirrored the economy's overall direction, tracking with the trends of [the S&P 500]." This year, there was a slight divergence from that, as the S&P fell 11% over the past year. Some parents give way more than the average, especially if it's for the first tooth expelled.

"Growing up you'd get ... $1 from the tooth fairy. You could go to the store and buy anything you wanted," Michigan's Josh Willink, who recently left his daughter $20 after she lost her first tooth, tells the New York Post. "Now, $1 doesn't even buy you anything." If you're wondering how far this tooth racket could possibly go, Delta Dental looks ahead another 25 years and extrapolates what the tooth fairy might be paying out in 2048. It finds that if things proceed at the current rate, parents can expect to leave $30 under that pillow. "Given the projection, it would be in the tooth fairy's best interest to invest in a larger purse," the company notes. (More tooth fairy stories.)

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