Childhood belief in a "tooth fairy" is a common phenomenon in the western world. The magic of waking up to a stack of quarters beneath one's pillow - covertly placed by one's parents in place of a lost tooth - is a fond childhood memory shared by many. While in India, few regions hold a religious ritual followed by the maternal uncle gifting the child when he or she loses his or her first tooth.
The tooth fairy myth takes on different forms and involves different stories in each household. Some families maintain that there are many tooth fairies, while in others the fairy is actually a mouse. Some believe tooth fairies look like Tinkerbell, while others imagine tooth fairies as male.
But no matter what your family's preferred fairy looks like, tooth fairies all leave behind a gift when they collect a tooth, and so all parents are faced with the problem of determining just how much money to put under the pillow of their children, when the tiny tooth collector pays a visit.
The Going Rate for Teeth
According to a survey by Visa, the average payout for a tooth in 2012 was three dollars, up 15 percent from the previous year. It is important to note that amount varies depending on a number of factors, including where you live, your income, your education and your age.
While some lucky kids find a 20 dollar bill under their pillow after losing a tooth, most tooth payouts fall in the range of one to five dollars. According to survey data, only three percent of kids receive less than one dollar, and only eight percent of kids receive more than five dollars per tooth.
Avoiding Tooth Inflation
No parent wants to be the frugal fairy when kids compare their tooth money on the playground, but going overboard with the fairy's gift can cause problems with your child's friends and neighbors. Staying within the one to five dollar range while explaining that the tooth fairy pays more for perfectly clean teeth that have been well brushed and flossed may help explain fluctuations in the rewards different tooth fairies leave.
Offering more money for well-maintained teeth can also help your kids remember to brush and floss properly and regularly, which will save you much more in time and dentist bills than you could ever spend on fairy funds.