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Tooth fairy index: Baby teeth value up 25 percent

Is there such a thing as the tooth fairy index? The experts at Delta Dental Plans Association certainly think so.

Since 1998, Delta Dental has conducted the Original Tooth Fairy Poll which averages the monetary value of tooth fairy gifts and compares it to stock market activity.

The tooth fairy left $255 million under pillows in 2014 and averaged $4.36 per lost tooth, up 25 percent from $3.50 in 2013, according to Delta Dental's survey. First-time tooth losers, however, received an average of $5.75.

In 11 out of the last 12 years, the trend in tooth fairy giving has been an accurate indicator of the S&P 500's movement. Last year, double-digit gains were recorded by both the S&P 500 and the average tooth fairy gift, with 11.4 percent and 24.6 percent growth, respectively.

"As leaders in the dental benefits industry, we keep our eye on all kinds of economic indicators, and the tooth fairy's record giving tracks with big gains in the major stock indexes in 2014." said Jennifer Elliott, vice president of marketing at Delta Dental Plans Association.

Delta Dental's survey found that children with parents under the age of 35 received an average of $5.40 per tooth while children with parents aged 35-44 found $4.24 under their pillow and children with parents older than 45 were given $2.45 per tooth.

"Our speculation is that when a parent has more financial freedom they are willing to give kids a little more," said Darci Shaw, associate director of marketing and communications for Delta Dental Plans Association.

In fact, 44 percent of the tooth fairy's gifts were bestowed based on the amount of cash on hand while 39 percent said that the money left was equivalent to the child's age.

The tooth fairy visited 81 percent of U.S. homes with children who lost a tooth in 2014 and only 17 percent of parents reported children who were unsatisfied with their gift.

However, children in the Midwest may feel a little sour after averaging only $2.83 per tooth.