The Tooth Fairy’s generosity or stinginess often comes down to how much cash is on hand.
According to Delta Dental’s Original Tooth Fairy Poll, 46% of parents said spare cash was the No. 1 factor in determining Tooth Fairy payouts and 31% said children’s ages set the value of a tooth.
Thursday is National Tooth Fairy Day, a made-up holiday celebrated twice a year on Feb. 28 and Aug. 22.
In 2018, the Tooth Fairy paid an average of $3.70 per tooth – a 43-cent decline from the previous year’s average of $4.13 – almost a $1 less than the 2016 average, the poll found. More than 1,000 parents of children ages 6-12 nationwide participated.
“The disclosed value of a lost tooth may be slipping but is significantly greater than the 1998 national average of $1.30, which equates to about $2.00 today with inflation,” Delta Dental said in a statement.
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Not having small bills has cost Renee Nordgren, a mother of four in Jensen Beach, Florida.
Her 8-year-old daughter Ella has received various payouts including a $50 bill and 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. “She lost one on Monday and got $10 as it was the lowest bill I could find.”
Nordgren said her friend has a stack of $2 bills stashed away for her kids’ loose teeth but joked that’s too much effort.
“Cash just really isn’t used,” Nordgren said. “Watch in 10 years kids will have wristbands that we can digitally add money.”
About 2 in 5 parents admit to paying more than the national average with their children receiving at least $5, according to the poll. The first lost tooth also has more value and where a kid lives played a role in the Tooth Fairy payout.
Kids in the West got $4.19 per tooth, the South $3.91 per tooth, and the Northeast $3.75 per tooth. Coming in below average: the Midwest at $2.97 per tooth.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko