Survey: Tooth Fairy’s 2016 cash payouts hit all-time high

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An annual survey found that the tooth fairy was quite generous last year, which is good news for everyone. | THINKSTOCK.COM IMAGES

The Tooth Fairy is feeling a bit more generous.

According to Delta Dental’s 13th annual Tooth Fairy survey, cash payouts have soared during 2016 to an all-time high average of $4.66, good for a 75-cent increase from 2015.

And it’s not just exciting news for the kids — the Tooth Fairy’s generosity has historically been a good indicator of the economy. The poll shows the Tooth Fairy’s cash payout increase is within a percentage point of the S&P 500’s, continuing the survey’s pattern of following the index’s direction for 12 of the past 13 years.

Last year, the Tooth Fairy paid about $290.6 million in the U.S. for lost teeth, a 13.5% increase from 2015. Cash payouts for a first lost tooth are up about 10% to $5.72. First-tooth payouts are typically higher than average.

Although 89% of the homes the Tooth Fairy hits receive money, the fairy is also known to occasionally leave gifts that promote dental health, such as toothpaste or toothbrushes.

“In addition to the excitement a visit from the Tooth Fairy brings, she also delivers lessons in finance and good oral health,” said Jennifer Elliott, vice president of marketing for Delta Dental, in a news release. “Having conversations with children about good oral health habits, from an early age, can help establish strong habits for a lifetime, and the Tooth Fairy can be a great way to help spark those conversations.”

According to the poll, the Tooth Fairy visits 85% of the nation’s households with children; and in 89% of those homes, leaves money.  But, 56% of parents say the Tooth Fairy can be a little forgetful, neglecting to pick up the tooth on the first night.

By region, Tooth Fairy payouts are highest in the West: $5.96 ($6.89 for the first tooth); followed by the Northeast at $5.08 ($6.31); the South at $4.57 ($4.88); and the Midwest at $4.04 ($5.70).

And it’s never too early to start saving, with 48% of children putting the money aside for a rainy day. The spenders also check in at about 48%, 3% donate the cash and 1% loan out their money.

Mina Haq, USA TODAY

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