15:19 PM

Yikes! It’s Getting Expensive to be the Tooth Fairy!

By By Dr. Linda Vidone, Dental Director, DentaQuest

I remember checking under my pillow the morning after I lost a tooth to see what the Tooth Fairy left me. I received coins (nickels and dimes) for my teeth and maybe a quarter for a big tooth like a molar. Well, times have changed! According to a recent survey by Visa, Inc., the going rate for a lost tooth is now $3.70, which is 42% higher than the $2.60 per tooth rate in 2011.

Can you believe these numbers!? But, 25 cents bought a lot more back then.

Today, I have mixed feelings about the tooth fairy. As a dentist, I don’t like to hear about people losing teeth. In children, teeth play an important role in learning to speak properly and in being able to eat crunchy, healthy foods so they can thrive and grow. And sadly, dentists see children who lose their teeth too early because of advanced dental decay (early childhood caries).

On the other hand, I appreciate that the tooth fairy is about a rite of passage. When children lose teeth as part of the natural growth and development of their mouth, it’s a good thing.

A visit from the tooth fairy is a reminder about encouraging good oral health. The reward doesn’t always have to be money which may be a hardship in some households. It could be a sticker, a small toy (like a lego piece), a book, or a homemade coupon for quality time with mom or dad.

Use the lost tooth as an opportunity to emphasize the child’s everyday dental routine. Losing a tooth means the child is growing up and it is time to become more responsible for his/her own daily care. Does your child not want to brush and floss? Remind him/her the Tooth Fairy is more generous for healthy baby teeth, than for teeth with cavities.

It is important for parents to have a system that encourages good oral health habits and celebrates a child’s milestones without breaking the family budget.