Tooth Fairy couldn’t keep up with the markets last year

WASHINGTON — The tooth fairy got a little less generous in 2017 and, despite a track record of annual gains in tooth fairy gifts, she didn’t keep up with the market’s hot pace last year.

Delta Dental has been tracking what the tooth fairy leaves children since 2001, and notes that its Tooth Fairy Index has typically served as a good indicator of the economy’s overall direction, tracking with the movement of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index for 12 of the past 14 years.

The December 2017 poll shows the tooth fairy’s payout decreased by 11 percent from 2016, while the S&P 500 saw a total return last year of 18 percent.

Parents, er, the fairy, left an average cash gift under the pillow for a child’s lost tooth of $4.13 last year.

Even though the price of a tooth dropped, the tooth fairy still paid out $271 million for lost teeth across the nation last year.

Kids looking under their pillows for their first lost-tooth payout scored the best, receiving an average of $5.70, only a minor drop from $5.72 in 2016.

The tooth fairy remains a family tradition, visiting 84 percent of the nation’s households with children. She leaves money at 95 percent of the homes she visits, but some parents say the fair leaves a small toy or game, a letter or a toothbrush in addition to or instead of money.

Delta Dental’s survey included about 1,000 parents of children ages 6 to 12, and was conducted between Dec. 13 and Dec. 28.

The amount of money the Tooth Fairy has been leaving for kids with new lost teeth dropped in 2017. (Delta Dental)
The amount of money the Tooth Fairy has been leaving for kids with newly lost teeth dropped in 2017.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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