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Tooth Fairy cuts back

A survey shows one of the biggest declines in tooth fairy gifts on record. (DTI/Photo Renáta Křivanová,

Thu. 5 April 2012


NEW YORK, NY, USA: The average gift from the Tooth Fairy dropped to $2.10 last year, but she’s still visiting nearly 90 percent of homes in the United States, according to The Original Tooth Fairy Poll sponsored by Delta Dental. That average gift is down 42 cents from $2.52 in 2010.

The 17 percent drop in value is one of the larger declines since Delta Dental began conducting the poll in 1998. In Minnesota, children receive an average of $1.97 per tooth — down 2 percent from last year’s average of $2.01.

“Like many Americans, the Tooth Fairy needed to tighten her belt in 2011, but she’s hopeful for a recovery this year,” said Ann Johnson, spokesperson for Delta Dental of Minnesota. “More important, Delta Dental is encouraged that parents are still making visits to the dentist a priority for their children.” In fact, 90 percent of those surveyed say they take their children to the dentist every six months.

The Original Tooth Fairy Poll, which surveyed 1,355 parents across the country, yielded these additional findings:

  • The most common amount left under the pillow by the Tooth Fairy is $1.
  • Most children find more money under the pillow for their first lost baby tooth.
  • Thirty-five percent of those surveyed allow their children three to four sugary drinks a day.
  • Seventy-one percent of those surveyed first take their child to the dentist between 2–3 years of age, rather than the recommended age 1 or within six months after the first tooth erupts.

Tracking the DJIA

The Original Tooth Fairy Poll has generally been a good barometer of the economy’s overall direction. In fact, the trend in average giving has tracked with movement of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) in seven of the past 10 years.

“Like the Tooth Fairy, we at Delta Dental are hopeful for better economic news in 2012,” Johnson said. “In the meantime, we will continue to support programs that provide access to dental care for those who would otherwise not have it.” The Delta Dental System annually donates more than $45 million for community benefit activities.

Encouraging healthy habits

The Original Tooth Fairy Poll reflects an interest by Delta Dental to promote good dental hygiene habits that encourage healthy mouths and healthy smiles across America. To help with this longtime tradition, you can take the poll at And, you can follow the Tooth Fairy's efforts at

Delta Dental of Minnesota’s oral health initiatives are part of its non-profit mission to provide educational information and support community programs that help enhance the oral health of all Minnesotans. Since 1969, the company has accomplished its mission by providing the best access across the state to oral health care through affordable dental plans. Delta Dental of Minnesota serves 8,000 employer groups with more than 3.8 million members in Minnesota and across the nation. For more information, visit

Delta Dental conducted the Original Tooth Fairy Poll among customers across the United States. For results based on the total sample of 1,355, the margin of error is plus or minus 2.66 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

(Source: Delta Dental)


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