The Tooth Fairy Is Leaving Some Kids Gift Cards, $50 Bills Thanks To Inflation, Parents Not Carrying Cash

'[My daughter] conveniently only loses her teeth late at night and when I have no small bills in my wallet,' said one Florida mom.

a young girl showing off her first lost tooth
julie corsi / Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Cropped and Resized)

'[My daughter] conveniently only loses her teeth late at night and when I have no small bills in my wallet,' said one Florida mom.

The tooth fairy is leaving some children gift cards or sometimes large bills thanks to inflation and the move to a cashless society, Yahoo Finance reports.

Today is National Tooth Fairy Day, which not unlike National Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19), is a completely made-up holiday by someone who wanted to have a little fun. And that’s why we’re discussing the role that inflation and the move to a cashless society have left on parents trying to carry on the tooth fairy tradition.

Gone are the days when a quarter, surreptitiously left under a pillow, was a generous trade-off for a child’s lost tooth. These days, the going rate is $3.70 per tooth on average. This data comes from Delta Dental, which polled parents about what the tooth fairy is leaving for kids these days and compiled the data. Not for nothing, 1998 seems to have been the tooth fairy’s chintziest year, as she was leaving kids an average of $1.30 per tooth; adjusted for inflation, that’s about $2 per tooth in today’s money.

Some parents, of course, give considerably more. For example, there’s Florida mom Renee Nordgren, whose daughter once got a $50 bill when she lost a tooth. On another occasion, the tooth fairy left one of her kids a $25 gift card.

“She conveniently only loses her teeth late at night and when I have no small bills in my wallet,” Nordgren said of her 8-year-old daughter.

Nordgren jokes that a friend of hers has a stack of $2 bills put away for the tooth fairy to use, but her friend has deemed it too much work. With the move to a cashless society, Nordgren says the tooth fairy may have to get creative.

“Watch in 10 years kids will have wristbands that we can digitally add money,” she jokes.

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Delta Dental looked at some other interesting facts about the tooth fairy’s spending habits. For example, she’s considerably more generous in the West ($4.19 per tooth on average) than she is in the frugal Midwest ($2.97 per tooth).

Similarly, in some families, the tooth fairy is not unlike Santa Clause in that she keeps track of the kids’ behavior and will determine the price of a tooth based thereto. In other families, the tooth fairy will give more money for a first lost tooth, less for later lost teeth.

In case you were wondering, something akin to the tooth fairy has been around for centuries. Icelandic poems written in the 13th century speak of a fee being paid for a child’s lost tooth, according to 123Dentist, and the myth of the tooth fairy arose from those Norse traditions.