How Much Should the Tooth Fairy Bring?
By Caroline Schafer
A visit from the Tooth Fairy is an exciting moment in a child’s life and creates cherished memories for parents, but how much, exactly, should the tooth fairy bring nowadays? MouthHealthy (mouthhealthy.org), part of the American Dental Association and a patient’s guide to dental health, doesn’t offer a definitive answer, only that the tooth fairy likes to keep children guessing—sometimes she leaves money, other times a gift. However, according to the Original Tooth Fairy Poll, sponsored by Delta Dental, the Tooth Fairy’s average cash gift for a lost tooth in 2019 was $3.70—a decline of 43 cents from the previous year!
Yet, not all parents follow the national average. Stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, army spouse Samantha Haselton who is the mom of Josh, 14, and Wyatt, 7, gives her children a $5 payment for the first tooth and then $1 for all of the remaining lost teeth. And once Josh stopped believing, Haselton says, the Tooth Fairy stopped visiting him.
Army spouse Kristy Marcham, who is stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and is mom to 12-year-old Dakota, says, “The last time Dakota lost a tooth, he received $5. When he was younger, it was much easier to give $1 to $2, [but] as he’s gotten older that really didn’t buy much.”
Navy spouse Malissa Borden says her son, Huck, 13, accidentally had a very generous Tooth Fairy! When Huck lost his first tooth at age 8, Borden, who “never has cash on hand,” had to drive to the closest ATM, and since the smallest amount of money she could withdraw was $2, that was the Tooth Fairy’s gift that first time—and then from then on. “Since we set the expectation with that first tooth, we didn’t really think it was right to go backwards,” Borden says. “And every time he would lose another tooth, we found ourselves in the same predicament. It just kind of stuck.”
Molly Ritterbeck of Fort Benning, Ga., also bucks the trend, but in the other direction. A mom of three girls—Abby, 12; Ryley, 10, and Bailey, 6—Ritterbeck says the Tooth Fairy typically pays three quarters for a lost tooth, which is how much an ice cream at the Burger King on post costs.
Assistant principal Dr. Kacy Harsha, mom to 19-year-old Jackie and eight-year-old Liam, recalls a time she had to get a little creative. For Tooth Fairy visits, Harsha keeps a roll of gold dollars in a cookie jar on a shelf so that she is never unprepared. However, when her husband was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, Harsha had taken her daughter, Jackie, who was 10 at the time, to the beach in Florida when she unexpectedly lost a tooth. Without her trusty cookie jar within reach, Harsha had an idea: As a stalling tactic, she told her daughter that the Tooth Fairy doesn’t visit hotels because she is unable to validate the authenticity of the tooth. After all, Harsha says, “It could be any kind of tooth. Even sharks’ teeth are found on the beach.”