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Tooth Fairy indicator: Baby teeth and the markets

Tooth Fairy
Ktaylorg | Getty Images

Wall Street's latest victim isn't a company or a stock: it's the tooth fairy.

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


The tooth fairy left $256 million under pillows in 2015 and averaged $3.91 per lost tooth, down 10 percent from $4.36 in 2014, according to Delta Dental's survey. First-time tooth losers, who usually receive a higher figure for their pearly whites, also saw a decrease in cash gifts of more than 9 percent, down from $5.75 last year.

In 12 of the last 13 years, the trend in tooth-fairy giving has been an accurate indicator of the S&P 500's movement. Last year, losses were recorded by both the S&P 500 and the average tooth fairy gift, with 8.6 percent and 10.3 percent declines, respectively.

"The tooth fairy can deliver a powerful lesson about finances from an early age and be a great way to make losing teeth less scary for kids," said Jennifer Elliott, vice president of marketing for Delta Dental, in a statement.

Delta Dental's survey found that the Tooth Fairy visits 86 percent of homes with children in the United States. Of those households, 93 percent received a monetary gift.

Those who didn't find cash under their pillows likely received toothbrushes, toothpaste or floss, according to Delta Dental. All three items were more frequently given in 2015 than the year before.

Not all teeth are worth the same, however. Children in the Midwest, on average, received $2 less per tooth than their counterparts in the Northeast.

The tooth fairy survey was conducted between Dec. 16, 2015, and Jan. 14, 2016, and surveyed 1,307 parents of children ages 6 to 12.