The amount of money left by the Tooth Fairy varies greatly by family, region, income level and other factors. A generation or two ago, a quarter or perhaps a 50-cent piece was deemed sufficient. Then a dollar became the standard in many areas. In recent years kids and parents report that the Tooth Fairy has left $5, $10 or even $20 per tooth. Today, the going rate for a healthy baby tooth seems to be about $5.
In 2008, CNN related a 2006 survey by the online toy store eBeanstalk.com, in which 150 mothers reported that the Tooth Fairy had given an average of $2.64 per tooth. Another poll, reported in February 2009 by blogger The Dental Maven, found a range of $1 to $5, with the occasional $20 or even a rare $100. Non-monetary gifts are also popular.
The Tooth Fairy bows to parents' desires on these matters. Be aware that whatever amount or type (i.e. silver dollars) the Tooth Fairy leaves the first time sets a precedent for all future visits. However, it's also possible to explain that the first tooth lost fetches a higher dollar amount than will subsequent teeth.
If the "going rate" seems inappropriate, the Tooth Fairy might consider leaving uncommon coins or bills (for example, 50-cent pieces, silver dollars, Susan B. Anthony dollars, Sacagawea dollars, two dollar bills or foreign coins).
What can the Tooth Fairy leave instead of money?
In some households, the Tooth Fairy leaves a gift instead of or in addition to money. For the littlest children, a small toy, little race cars, a doll or a book should be well-received. Other ideas include: stickers, pens and pencils, healthful snacks, a toothbrush and even (perhaps ironically) candy. For older kids, the Tooth Fairy might leave a gift card or gift certificate to a favorite store. There are also attractive, customizable Tooth Fairy certificates, such as those found at FreePrintableCertificates.net that children will treasure.
Should money be left if the tooth shows decay or has a filling?
In some families, the Tooth Fairy does not leave money, or leaves a lesser amount, if the lost tooth is decayed or has been filled or capped. However, as more information emerges about the often-genetic nature of tooth development, some of the stigma of the "look ma, no cavities" era has been lost. The decision of whether to compensate in the case of a less-than-ideal tooth is a personal, parental decision that the Tooth Fairy will honor.
What if the Tooth Fairy "forgets"?
Older children should understand that even the Tooth Fairy makes mistakes, or gets too busy to retrieve a tooth the first night it's left. In some households, the Tooth Fairy tacks on a dollar for each day the payment is late. ToothFairyLetter.net has a letter from the Tooth Fairy addressing this very situation.
How long do/should children believe in the Tooth Fairy?
Most children hold onto their magical belief of the Tooth Fairy about as long, or longer, than they do Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. There is really no limit to how long children can enjoy Tooth Fairy lore. Some families have a policy that "if you don't believe, you don't receive," meaning that once a child professes to no longer believe in the Tooth Fairy, her visits stop.
What does the Tooth Fairy do with the teeth?
Some versions of the Tooth Fairy legend relate that the teeth are used to build a gleaming Tooth Fairy castle. However, sometimes parents end up with the teeth. It's a good idea to keep the teeth hidden far from children, who would be confused to learn they are still in the house. Perhaps the child will want the teeth when he or she grows up. Sometimes a child doesn't want to surrender his or her precious tooth to the Tooth Fairy, in which case the Tooth Fairy might offer a lesser compensation, or the parent might offer to pay half the going rate to "buy" the tooth from the child but let him or her "visit" it at any time. A letter from the Tooth Fairy on ToothFairyLetter.net addresses letting children keep their lost teeth.