Is the Tooth Fairy Becoming a Frugal Fairy?
How much does a lost baby tooth fetch in your household?
At, Urban Dental, we have been wondering just that after we recently
stumbled across some interesting figures out of the US…
As it seems that the Tooth Fairy may have started pinching pennies while pinching teeth.
According to the US nationwide poll, known as The Original Tooth Fairy Poll, the price for a baby tooth has fallen and quite drastically too in just a short period.
When this poll first started in 1998, the Tooth Fairy was leaving an average of $1.30 per tooth. But in 2017 it reached its peak, with a tooth fetching a whopping $4.50 on average.
However, come 2018 a change happened, and prices dropped! A beautiful baby tooth was now only returning an average of $4.13.
But just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any worse for the tooth economy… it did!
In a matter of a year, prices fell yet again. This time dropping 43 cents from 2018. And suddenly, a lost tooth in 2019 was averaging in at only $3.70 - which still seems quite high to us.
But do not fear, it is not all grave tooth news. Fortunately, the first tooth which a child loses continues to impress the Tooth Fairy, bringing in an average of $4.96.
So, are times tough for the Tooth Fairy?
Or did the price just increase too quickly that it was unstainable long-term?
Well, according to NPR’s Planet Money, in the last two decades the price of teeth has risen much faster than it should have, and it is not in line with the normal inflation that we would expect to see.
However, they do have a theory to explain it and it is worth watching if you want to have a little chuckle – you will find the link at the end of the article. But basically, they think that when people have more available money, spending tends to disproportionately increase in areas that they value… such as creating lasting childhood memories.
So, does the Tooth Fairy have less disposable income
which has caused the purse strings to tighten?
Or did the Tooth Fairy realise that teeth were fast becoming overpriced?
Now, while this is a US poll run by one of the largest US health insurers and is in US dollars, it sparked a lot of conversation in the Urban Dental lunchroom.
The obvious question being… “how much did you use to get from the Tooth Fairy?”.
However, it seems that for our team when we were children, the price of a lost tooth was much lower than what has been reported by The Original Tooth Fairy Poll.
So, unfortunately, at Urban Dental, we too don’t know
what the actual going rate is in Australia for a lost baby tooth.
So, don’t be surprised if we ask you next time you are in or if we see a gap in your child’s smile!
Anyway, we soon realised something else…
That it isn’t just about how much a tooth paid out that varies amongst our team. Rather everyone also had their own magical memories of the Tooth Fairy.
From tiny little letters neatly autographed by the Tooth Fairy, to suspected Tooth Fairy sightings to less than magical memories of how the Tooth Fairy forgot to come for three consecutive days!
But then came the greatest debate of them all… “where should the tooth be left?”
Under the pillow… next to the bed in a glass of water… or in a little Tooth Fairy pillow… Amazingly, for the, Urban Dental, team it did not seem to matter where the tooth was left. The Tooth Fairy would always find it… even if it did take a couple of days.
However, things turned serious when it was realised that
not every child gets a visit from the Tooth Fairy (gasp)!
Not sure what we mean then please read on…
Well, in a lot of countries and in a lot of cultures, a lost tooth is cause for celebration. However, they don’t necessarily involve the Tooth Fairy. Instead they may involve animals collecting teeth or have other traditions to mark the occasion.
So, at Urban Dental, we did some homework and we found the different traditions to be very interesting! So, we thought we would share some of them with you.
Firstly, in El Salvador, the tooth is collected by a rabbit – not a fairy. Likewise, in the Philippines, there is no fairy and instead lost baby teeth are collected by the Tooth Rat. The tooth Rat though likes his baby teeth to be left on a windowsill - ready for a quick and easy exchange we are guessing.
In some Hispanic cultures, there is a mouse who goes by a few names, including El Raton de Los Dientes or Raton Perez. After collecting the tooth from under the pillow, this little mouse replaces it with a gift, rather than money.
France also relies on a mouse to collect their lost teeth, known as “La Bonne Petite Souris”. However, Petite Souris may not have got the memo about sugar and teeth. As instead of always leaving money sometimes Petite Souris leaves lollies! Similarly, in Swaziland, they also wake to find sweets in the morning… after having their tooth collected from inside their shoe!
But it is not always about the tooth being
collected and exchanged for money or goods...
In some European traditions the tooth is buried. This is thought to help promote health for the growing adult teeth. Another interesting tradition includes throwing the tooth onto the roof for good luck. While in other counties they throw their lower teeth on the roof and their upper teeth go in the dirt.
Now you may have seen someone wearing a shark tooth necklace… but have you seen a human tooth one before? Well, you can. In Costa Rica and Chile, they make charms and jewellery from their children’s lost teeth.
The final tradition we are going to touch on seems to be a little different from most.
In Mongolia, a lost tooth is actually rolled in meat fat and fed to the dog! It is thought that this will help their new adult tooth to be as strong as their dog’s teeth… as a dog has teeth so strong that it can chew bones. But don’t worry if there is no family dog to feed the tooth to, it is instead buried under a big tree, in the hope that it will encourage strong roots on the new tooth that comes through.
Who would have thought that there were so many different traditions!
And if you want to read more about them then check out the links at the end of this article.
Anyway, back to the Tooth Fairy…
At, Urban Dental, we sometimes hear kids mention that they didn’t get as much for one tooth as they did another or when compared to their friends.
And as we have already discussed, it seems the price and the value of lost baby teeth fluctuates and other then The Original Tooth Fairy Poll there is limited to no recorded data available on the tooth market.
Now while NPR’s Planet Money has put forward one suggestion seeking to understand the tooth economy, we are wondering if it could be related to something else?
The team at, Urban Dental, have come up with their own theory
to try and understand why the value of tooth seems to fluctuate between teeth and children.
Turns out that apparently Australia is now the sixth most cashless society.1 So, at Urban Dental we are wondering if the Tooth Fairy has also followed suit?
Is the Tooth Fairy struggling to find the loose change he/she once had? Is he/she desperately searching behind the couch cushions before leaving to go collect teeth each night? Will this eventually lead to the Tooth Fairy needing to use some form of tap-and-go system in the future?
However, it seems we aren’t the only one with a theory about the tooth economy…
Another one recently put to us about why the price of a tooth fluctuates is to do with the Tooth Fairy’s daily limit. It has been suggested that the Tooth Fairy has a daily spending limit and that amount must be divided between how many teeth there are to collect that day. That is why there is never a consistent amount and why it varies so much.
Okay… so, I guess we will never really know how the tooth market works.
However, we have made some observations about the Tooth Fairy,
based on the experiences of our patients, friends and family, at Urban Dental.
Although, it is worth noting that we aren’t suggesting that children try to monetize those magical, childhood moments. So, let’s call them “tips and tricks to help encourage the Tooth Fairy to come and ways to understand why the value may not always be the same”.
Tips and tricks to help encourage the Tooth Fairy to come and ways to understand why the value may not always be the same:
Clean teeth: first and foremost, the Tooth Fairy seems to have a preference for clean teeth. So, if that’s not a reason to get brushing and flossing every morning and every night, we don’t know what is!
Which tooth: it seems that the first lost tooth always fetches a higher price and sometimes due to their size a molar may also get a greater return.
Age: apparently how old you are can affect the going rate of a tooth.
The tidiness of room: if the Tooth Fairy has trouble getting into a messy room it can affect her ability to carry and manoeuvre her purse around the room and she may leave less. But sometimes if the room is too messy, she can’t get in at all and she won’t come to collect the lost tooth until after the room has been cleaned… must be something to do with workplace health and safety.
Ease of collection: unfortunately, sometimes the Tooth Fairy has a challenge in retrieving a tooth, especially if it is swallowed. Because the child doesn’t get to see the tooth this can in some cases result in a higher payout. Although we are not suggesting that children intentionally start swallowing their teeth.
Failed to attend: sometimes the Tooth Fairy is just too busy and can’t get to all the houses by sunrise, accidentally making her a day or two late. However, to try and make it up to the child the Tooth Fairy may overcompensate… leaving a little more than she may have originally.
Unfortunately, these “tips and tricks”, cannot be verified by the Tooth Fairy
and are purely anecdotal. And the reality is that we may never truly understand the tooth economy.
However, they may help us to explain to children why the price may fluctuate
between teeth and between their friends at school.
At, Urban Dental, we just hope that the Tooth Fairy continues
to bring smile and joy to the lives of the children that he/she visits!
And remember… if you have any other theories on the tooth economy or how the Tooth Fairy knows the value of each tooth then why not join in the conversation on our Facebook page!
From all the team at Urban Dental thanks for reading!
And stay tuned as we continue to cover important topics that matter to you.
The Original Tooth Fairy Poll: https://www.theoriginaltoothfairypoll.com/