What is the going rate for a tooth these days?
That’s a good question.
One recent study showed that tooth fairy payoff rates have been steadily doubling each decade since the 1980’s. As of last year, that put the Australian national average at about $2.00, with parents sometimes paying as much as $5 or more for the first tooth to come out.Another 2013 study put the American average at a whopping $3.50! That’s nearly $3.75 in Australian currency! Clearly there is some money to be made for these children. We talked to a few enterprising youngsters who seemed to be getting a good handle on how to make this Tooth Fairy thing work in their favor.
Eight-year-old Lucas (*all names have been changed to protect the privacy of minors) told us that his rates have been increasing steadily in the three years since he lost his first incisor.
“The first one that came out was scary. It was bleeding a lot and my mom was crying. I think she was crying because I was crying. I was just so happy I got my first tooth out, I didn’t even care that it was hurting. All I could think about was that the Tooth Fairy was coming to see me, and I needed to make sure I didn’t lose my tooth before I could get it under my pillow.”
Lucas told us that he received one dollar for that first tooth. A few months later, he got $2 for the next baby teeth that came out. Last year, he earned a full $10 for losing four teeth in the space of one week. This year, he’s campaigned for $3 each.
“I tell my parents that’s what all the other kids are getting. They don’t want me to feel bad, so they pay.”
Ten-year-old Olivia has made a cottage industry out of her Tooth Fairy experience. “They tried that $1 business with me, but I wasn’t having it. I got $5 on the first one, as a kind of bonus, but once that door was open, I didn’t let them close it.”
Now Olivia earns extra cash counseling other kids in her class on the best way to get more money per tooth. “I tell them, do the math. You’ve got 20 teeth to lose. At $5 a pop, that’s $100. You can’t afford not to grab that cash if you can. The trick is, you have to cry extra hard when the tooth is coming out. The parents feel so bad, they make sure there’s more money under the pillow to make up for it.” Olivia earns $1 commission every time one of her classmates brings in more than $4 a tooth.
We asked Olivia, how close does she think her parents are with the Tooth Fairy. She replied, “They’re like this,” and she crossed her fingers one on top of the other.
Noah, a scrappy little 7-year-old, told us that his mother makes sure the Tooth Fairy pays him an extra two dollars if he pulls the tooth out himself. “I don’t mind. I kind of like doing it. It makes me feel invincible. And my mum is so grateful she doesn’t have to do it herself. I think I could probably get more money, but I don’t want to push my luck. I just ask for extra ice cream instead.”
While most kids wait until the tooth falls out on its own, some do ask an adult to pull it out for them. Of course, there are those adventurous few who just can’t wait, and yank the tooth out themselves, regardless if they’re being paid extra money. These hearty souls seem to do it for the sheer pleasure.
All financial considerations aside, it’s best to let your child’s primary teeth come out naturally, when they are ready to fall out. If it is partially out or uncomfortably loose, it should not be pulled until it is loose enough to come out easily. If the tooth is pulled out prematurely, it can cause unnecessary injury to the surrounding gum. Afterwards, it’s important to make sure to rinse the area with water and keep it clean, as the wound is healing. If necessary, pack the area with sterile gauze until it stops bleeding.
And always, if you experience any problems such as incessant bleeding or extreme pain, please contact your dentist right away.