Tooth Fairy Payouts Hit Hard Times

Average under-the-pillow gifts take a dip by 11 percent  

GLENDALE, Ariz. (Feb. 28, 2018) - Looks like the Tooth Fairy tightened her purse strings after an all-time high payout in 2016. Last year, the Tooth Fairy's cash gifts dropped to an average of $4.13, according to a new survey1 from Delta Dental of Arizona.1

Delta Dental’s The Original Tooth Fairy Poll® has typically served as a good indicator of the economy's overall direction, tracking with the movement of Standard & Poor's 500 index (S&P 500) for 12 of the past 14 years. The December 2017 poll shows the Tooth Fairy hasn’t quite been able to keep up with the market’s hot pace—with an 11 percent cash payout decrease from 2016, while the S&P 500 saw a total return in 2017 of almost 18 percent.

Even though the average price of a tooth dropped, the Tooth Fairy still paid out a healthy $271 million for lost teeth across the nation. Those looking under their pillow for their first lost-tooth payout took far less of a hit, receiving an average $5.70 per tooth, only a minor drop from 2016’s $5.72 first-tooth payout. 

"No matter how generous the Tooth Fairy decides to be, a visit from the Tooth Fairy is a great way to teach children good oral health habits at an early age," said Tiffany Di Giacinto, director of marketing and communications at Delta Dental of Arizona. "What better time to reinforce oral health messages than during the anticipation of a visit from the Tooth Fairy?” 

Other Tooth Fairy stats: 

  • The Tooth Fairy visits 84 percent of the nation's households with children. 
  • 55 percent of parents confess that the Tooth Fairy may have missed a visit at some time. 
  • While the Tooth Fairy leaves money at 95 percent of the homes she visits, some parents say that the Tooth Fairy also leaves a small toy or game (47 percent), a letter from the Tooth Fairy (35 percent) or a tooth brush (31 percent) in addition to or instead of money.

Regional statistics:

  • Tooth Fairy payouts are highest in the West with $4.85 ($6.89 for the first tooth); followed by the Northeast at $4.35 ($6.31 for the first tooth); the South gave $4.12 ($4.88 for the first tooth); and the Midwest at $3.44 ($5.70 for the first tooth).
  • The Tooth Fairy shelled out a whopping $7.1 million to Arizona children in 2017.

For tips on talking to your child about good oral health habits or for ideas on making the first Tooth Fairy visit extra-special, visit the Delta Dental of Arizona Blog at


About Delta Dental of Arizona
Delta Dental of Arizona is the leading dental benefits provider in Arizona, serving more than 1 million enrollees and more than 3,400 contracted dentists across the state. Passionate about oral health and its importance to generations of families, Delta Dental of Arizona has worked for more than 45 years to improve oral health by emphasizing preventive care and making dental coverage accessible to a wide variety of employers, groups and individuals. For more information about Delta Dental of Arizona, visit

1The Original Tooth Fairy Poll was conducted December 13-28, 2017, among a nationally representative sample of 1,007 parents of children ages 6-12. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent.