Of the Big Three childhood myths, the Tooth Fairy is the most capitalistic.
Santa Claus gives gifts if you behave, and the Easter Bunny makes you hunt for free painted eggs. But only the Tooth Fairy pays for product. So it makes sense that you can use the current exchange rate for baby teeth as an indicator of the adult U.S. economy.
No cavities in the economy
If this year’s poll of parents is accurate, good times are right around the corner. Why? Because “the average gift from the Tooth Fairy climbed to $3.50 last year, up from $2.42 in 2012,” claims the Original Tooth Fairy Poll, which is both a legitimate annual research study and one hell of a publicity stunt for Delta Dental, a 60-year-old national dental insurance company.
“The trend in Tooth Fairy giving has tracked with the movement of Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500) in 10 of the past 11 years.” the poll boasts. So now that we know the Tooth Fairy is paying 45 percent more than last year, adults should be as pleased as children.
Drilling down on the Tooth Fairy
Other intriguing fairy facts from this year’s poll…
- Last year, the Tooth Fairy visited 86 percent of U.S. homes with children who lost a tooth.
- While the most common amount left under the pillow was $1, some hit it rich – 28 percent got $5 or more for each tooth.
- Like Space Shuttle launches and Super Bowl championships, the first time is always the most popular. So that first baby tooth to fall out makes much more than the rest. “The Tooth Fairy was even more generous for first-time tooth giving, leaving more money for the first tooth than for other teeth in 59 percent of homes. On average, the amount given for the first tooth was $4.51.”
The oral history
If you want to know even more about the tooth fairy, Salon.com just last month researched the “real history” of the legend, which declares, “Every recorded human culture has some kind of tradition surrounding the disposal of a child’s lost baby teeth.”
Ours seems to have started with Disney films: ” It’s no coincidence that at the same time the tooth fairy was starting to gain traction in the United States, Disney was also releasing animated films like Pinocchio and Cinderella — each of which features a benevolent, maternal fairy with the power to make wishes come true.”
Finally, if you’re a parent and are feeling insecure about the correct amount to compensate your kid’s bicuspid, here’s a nifty Tooth Fairy Calculator from Visa. No word yet on when Visa will process Tooth Fairy payments via plastic. Maybe next year.