Even mythical creatures have to cut their spending sometimes.
The Tooth Fairy is paying less for teeth these days for the second year in a row, according to an annual survey from Delta Dental. In the past year, the bicuspid bandit’s payout for molars and incisors has dropped 43 cents.
The average lost tooth now fetches $3.70, with the first lost tooth getting an average of $4.96. Compare that to last year’s $4.13 for the average tooth, and more than $4.50 two years ago.
Tooth fairy payouts are more than just free money for children or dental incentives. The average rate is actually a half-decent economic indicator. The Tooth Fairy Index has tracked the S&P 500 index for 14 of the past 17 years, according to Delta Dental.
If you don’t have kids and you’re thinking to yourself that kids have got it good these days, even with the drop in the average price per tooth, you’re right. In 1998, the average tooth merited just $1.30 ($2 when adjusted for inflation).
While prices per tooth were down across the country, the actual payouts vary wildly by region.
Kids in western states get an average of $4.13, down from last year’s $4.85. Southern kids pocket an average of $3.91, versus $4.12 in 2018. The Northeast pays out $3.75 per chopper. And children in the Midwest earn $2.97 per tooth – 73 cents less than the national average.