Economic Sign? Tooth Fairy Is Paying More

Average Payout per Baby Tooth Is on the Rise

By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 2, 2010 -- Even the tooth fairy is feeling a bit more flush these days, a sign that perhaps the worst of the recession is over.

A new poll shows the average tooth fairy dividend is up 13% from last year, from $1.88 to $2.13 per tooth nationwide.

"This year's Tooth Fairy Poll average reflects improvements we're seeing in other areas of the economy," says Ann Johnson, director of community affairs for Delta Dental of Minnesota, which sponsored the survey, in a news release. "For example, the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 23 percent during the same time period. The Tooth Fairy may be another indicator that the economy is starting to recover."

That's good news for children who may want to start thinking about how they'll invest the more than $40 they can expect to earn by the time they lose all 20 baby teeth.

Researchers say that for the past decade the annual Tooth Fairy Index has closely mirrored trends of the Dow Jones Industrial Index. However, 86% of parents said the state of the economy has not affected tooth fairy payouts in their own home.

The 2010 Tooth Fairy Poll surveyed more than 1,500 parents nationwide about tooth fairy giving and dental habits in their household.

The results showed tooth fairy dividends ranged from a low of 5 cents to a high of $50 per tooth, with the national average hovering around the $2 mark.

Researchers say the survey also showed that parents are taking their children to the dentist sooner, with nearly half of children's first dental visits occurring by age 2.

"For the past few years, the poll revealed the child's first dental visit was closer to age three, so this is a positive shift," says Johnson in the news release. "The American Dental Association recommends that a child be seen by a dentist as soon as his or her first tooth erupts, but at least no later than the child's first birthday."

Other findings of the 2010 Tooth Fairy Poll include:

  • 84% of parents surveyed said the tooth fairy visits their home.
  • 87% of parents report that their children go to the dentist every six months, which is the same figure as last year's poll.
  • 90% of parents say their children brush their teeth at night, and 80% say they also brush them in the morning. Experts say nighttime is the most important time for children to brush their teeth, but brushing after each meal is recommended.
  • 55% of parents did not know that tooth decay is a bacterial infection that is contagious.
  • 60% of parents said they changed their child's toothbrush after the flu or other illness. Toothbrushes can harbor germs, and if the brushes touch one another, they can transmit viruses and germs to other family members.



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SOURCES: Delta Dental of Minnesota: "Tooth Fairy Poll 2010."

News release, Delta Dental of Minnesota.

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