Little cheeks rest on pillows as the night begins, but the excitement keeps eyes wide as they wait for a glimpse of the elusive sprite. But it’s not December 24th and they aren’t waiting for Santa. Those gap-toothed grinners are waiting for the Tooth Fairy. Tongues peek out and poke at that empty spot, the one once filled by the pearly white pebble now lying under the pillow. They can hardly wait until morning to see what the Tooth Fairy has left behind.
And what she’s leaving behind is getting out of hand. The Fairy spent 2013 in a particularly generous mood. Her tooth prices are on the rise and not looking to slow down any time soon. American kids received an average of $3.70 per tooth, an increase of 23% over the $3.00 average in 2012. That’s a Starbucks coffee to power through a morning of clinic or late night board cramming. With these rates, a full set of 20 baby teeth nets a kid $74. All for successfully wrangling out the wigglers.
But like many things—dental school tuition, sunshine, and athletic team prowess—Tooth Fairy treasure is not equal across the country. Kids in the Northeast are bringing in the big bucks, making $4.10 per tooth, while youngsters in the West bring $3.70 and the Southerners collect $3.60. Those friendly Midwestern tikes earn the least for their tiny teeth with an average of $3.30 per tooth.
What about the extremes of the Tooth Treasure spectrum? Ten percent of kids whip those pillows across the room in the morning to find more than $5 left behind, while 36% find a measly dollar or less. Six percent of youngsters must be doing something right—they are finding $20 or more, with 2% of these kids finding $50 from the Fairy. $50! For a single baby tooth. I wonder how much I’d get if I were willing to give up a second molar or two…
Ms. Fairy better check herself before she wrecks herself. If the incisor-swapping imp doesn’t slow her spending and continues at an average 21% increase per year, a single baby tooth will be worth $1,958.05 by 2048. Lose 20 of those pearly whites and you’ve got enough for a year of dental school tuition. But can we really put a price on the way those jack-o’-lantern smiles light up when they reach under the pillow to find Tooth Fairy treasure?
To find out the tooth sale price for your age, region, economic status, level of education, check out the Tooth Fairy Calculator. Has the Tooth Fairy been generous to you?
~Macaire Thiel, Marquette ’16, health and fitness co-chair