These Days, Even the Tooth Fairy is Feeling the Pinch of Inflation

A new poll shows the average price of a single lost tooth has increased 16% over the past year.

Preparation for the tooth fairy
Photo:

Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

I feel like I have been able to anticipate many things pretty well since becoming a parent—the sleepless nights, the never-ending cuddles, the endless drama, and the love for all things gaming. I have been well prepared for it all since having my first son in 2014. While some things have annoyed me, very few things have surprised me when it comes to being a mom. Since I am a big lover of all things imagination, I knew 100% we would be a Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy household. I am always down for a reason to celebrate. The one thing I didn't anticipate? Inflation!

You can roll your eyes all you want, but nobody prepared me for the sheer costs of said children growing up. I'm not talking about the cost of sneakers they seem to run holes into within weeks or pants that are too short before the seasons change. Those are things I expected to spend money on. I am talking about the cost to keep up with the aforementioned love of all things imagination. My oldest son lost his first tooth the summer before kindergarten started. Within two weeks he had lost four teeth and I started to question whether or not we would go broke. Why is that? Because in our house the tooth fairy leaves a whopping $10 per tooth!

Apparently, I'm not alone. According to parents surveyed by Delta Dental in its 2023 Original Tooth Fairy Poll®, the average value of a single lost tooth during the past year increased 16% from $5.36 to $6.23. Delta Dental has been conducting the poll for 25 years, and with this new record high it's become obvious that even the tooth fairy can't escape inflation. Although we're shelling out top dollar for molars over here, the amount per tooth in the Northeast, where we live, dropped below the national average for the first time at just $6.13 for a lost tooth.

Get this—based on the survey findings, by 2048 the tooth fairy would be paying over $30 for a single lost tooth. Delta Dental says the Tooth Fairy Index follows the U.S. economy. They say for 17 out of the past 21 years, the price of a tooth has trended along with the S&P 500.

To be fair, I left the tooth fairy job up to Dad in our house, so he was the one who decided the tooth budget. I'm sure he didn't anticipate the rapid rate at which our son was going to start losing teeth, but now that we have three children, I can only imagine what the payout is going to look like. Curious, I almost immediately went to poll some other parent friends and find out what the going rate per tooth is in their homes—and I'll admit our rate does come out on the higher end. We are essentially funding our kids' Roblox accounts.

As a kid who grew up in the 90s, I remember literally getting coins for lost teeth. I would be willing to bet my $10 that the most I've ever received for a single tooth was closer to the $2 range. Now, with an 8 and 5-year-old, I just hope the tooth fairy keeps their wallet ready because there's no going back. My 5-year-old was all too ready to call our whole family when he lost a tooth just this week, super-excited to score his $10. At that payout rate, my kids have me considering going in for X-rays to see if there are any teeth I no longer need. But maybe I'll hold out and see what the top dollar is in 2048!

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  1. Delta Dental. Original Tooth Fairy Poll 2023.

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