How much money should the tooth fairy give?

Photo of a molar with a tiara and wings against a blue background

As parents, we want to make every experience magical for our children, and losing their baby teeth is no exception. One of the most beloved traditions is the visit from the tooth fairy. But who is she, and how much money does she give? In this blog post, we’ll explore the origins of the tooth fairy, how much she generally gives, and why there’s no “right” amount.

Losing baby teeth is a significant milestone in every child’s life.

But what comes with tooth loss is equally crucial – getting a visit from the Tooth Fairy! Almost every child has heard of the Tooth Fairy, but do you know who she is and how much she gives? If you’re a parent or caregiver to a young child, this blog post is for you.

Who is the Tooth Fairy?

As we know her today, the tooth fairy is a mythical creature who is said to collect children’s lost teeth and leave a reward under their pillow. But the idea of a tooth fairy has existed in many cultures for centuries. In ancient Norse mythology, a tooth fee was paid to children when they lost their first tooth, and in 18th-century France, a story about La Bonne Petite Souris (the good little mouse) became popular, which involved a mouse collecting children’s lost teeth. Over time, the tooth fairy became beloved in many countries, including the United States.

While the tooth fairy is not real, she has become an important part of many family traditions. The tooth fairy provides a magical experience for children and helps them cope with the discomfort and fear of losing a tooth. Many parents use the tooth fairy to make the experience more positive and exciting for their children. Some even make tooth fairy pillows, leave special notes from the tooth fairy, or create elaborate stories about where the tooth fairy comes from.

Believing in the tooth fairy can also teach children important values such as responsibility and generosity. When the tooth fairy leaves and a child loses a tooth, they take responsibility for keeping it safe until the tooth fairy comes. They also learn to be generous by giving up their teeth in exchange for a reward. These values can help children develop strong character traits that will benefit them in the future.

How does the Tooth Fairy work?

When a child loses a tooth, they should place it under their pillow before bedtime. The Tooth Fairy visits at night, exchanges the tooth for a monetary reward or small toy, and leaves a note or a small gift. Some children may leave snacks, such as cookies or carrots, for the Tooth Fairy.

How much money does the Tooth Fairy give?

The money the Tooth Fairy leaves varies depending on location, the child’s age, and family traditions. On average, the Tooth Fairy leaves around $5, but some kids may receive up to $20 for a single tooth or an exceptional tooth. Some families may give a larger amount for the first tooth lost, while others may opt for non-monetary gifts such as stickers or toys.

Why is the Tooth Fairy important?

The Tooth Fairy plays an important role in celebrating a child’s rite of passage and making them feel special during what can be a scary or painful experience. The Tooth Fairy can also help parents encourage children to care for their oral health and practice good dental hygiene.

Where did the tooth fairy come from? 

The Tooth Fairy’s concept is derived from ancient myths and legends. In medieval Europe, folklore expressed that when a tooth was lost, it should be buried to protect it from falling into the wicked hands of an enchantress or witch. Parents often buried their child’s loose tooth somewhere in the ground, typically beneath crops, to share the tooth’s productive energy to aid the earth’s health and whatever may grow in it. This act of hope turned into the tooth fairy, giving a unique practice that spread across Europe. For example, in countries such as France and Spain, children would place their teeth under their pillow and wait for a mouse to swap the tooth for a coin.

The origin of the Tooth Fairy can be traced back to the last quarter century and early 20th century in the United States. Earlier records have suggested that the modern fairy figure was inspired by a yearly tradition recorded in the “Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know” book by Hamilton Wright Mabie in 1905. In this book, there were stories of tooth fairies that rewarded children’s lost teeth, hinting that the tradition may have been around long before this. In popular culture, the 1920 publication of our beloved protagonist, “The Tooth Fairy,” became a nationwide sensation.

Parents introduced the Tooth Fairy to add magic to their children’s transition of growing up and losing their baby teeth. While traditional folklore established that children receive money or gifts as a reward for losing a tooth, it is more common now for cash to be the going rate, with most children receiving an average value of $3-5. However, a tooth left under their pillow can occasionally net a child a few coins, a special toy, or a sweet treat, making the experience unforgettable.

Many variations of the Tooth Fairy character vary between cultures, although the American version is undoubtedly one of the most well-known worldwide. In addition to the standard Tooth Fairy, global variations can include a Tooth Mouse, Tooth Rat, or Tooth Bee. Some nations, such as Japan, also emphasize fang-toothed characters replacing teeth instead of the iconic large molars of the Tooth Fairy in American folklore.

How much do parents actually give from the tooth fairy? 

The first thing to consider is the location that you are in. In the United States, the average amount given to the tooth fairy ranges from $1 to $5 per tooth. In some bigger cities, it’s not uncommon for parents to give tooth fairy payouts even more than that. Of course, it’s ultimately up to you to decide the right amount for your child.

Learn how much the tooth fairy typically gives each year with this handy table:

Year Average Amount
2000 $1.50
2002 $1.70
2004 $1.90
2006 $2.10
2008 $2.30
2010 $2.50
2012 $2.70
2014 $2.90
2016 $3.10
2018 $3.30
2020 $3.50
2022 $5.36
2023 $6.23

As you can see, the amount of money the tooth fairy gives for teeth has been steadily increasing over the past 20 years, likely due to inflation, the rising cost of living, and the growing popularity of the tooth fairy tradition. Remember that these are average amounts, and the actual payment can vary based on factors like the child’s age, the parent’s income, and the location of the family. For instance, in the United States, the national average tooth fairy payment is $4.57, but in California, it’s $5.22, and in New York, it’s $5.00. 

Beyond big cities, the average even varies by geographical region! While baby teeth in the South earn an average of $5.7, kids on the West Coast wake up to $4.08, and Midwesterners receive $4.27. But hold on, kids in the Northeast know how to make the tooth fairy break out the big bucks, with an impressive $7.36 per tooth. 

It is also a good idea to keep in mind that family traditions and customs play a significant role in determining the appropriate amount to give to the tooth fairy. In many families, the amount given depends on the child’s personality or the importance of the teeth lost. For instance, if your child is easily excited by the tooth fairy, you can get creative with formal-looking letters with congratulatory messages, glitter, little surprises, and a cash gift. Remember, the magic and excitement of the tradition will likely be more important to your child than the amount! 

Factors that Influence Tooth Fairy Payments

Socioeconomic Factors

Firstly, Tooth Fairy payments can be affected by the family’s socioeconomic status. Income disparities, regional variations, and cultural differences can play a role in determining how much the Tooth Fairy pays for a tooth. For example, parents in affluent neighborhoods may leave more for their child’s teeth than those in lower-income areas. Children from different cultures might have different expectations from their Tooth Fairy, and these expectations may influence the payment amount. 


Consider your Child’s Age

Another factor affecting the average price and how much the Tooth Fairy gives in payments is your child’s age. An older child, say an 11-12-year-old, may get paid more for a lost tooth than a younger child, say a 6-7-year-old. This could be due to the child’s advanced understanding of the value of money and their ability to take care of their teeth better.

Celebrating Significant Tooth Loss Milestones

The amount paid out by the Tooth Fairy can also vary depending on the tooth being lost. A more visible tooth, like the front tooth, may warrant a higher payment than a less noticeable tooth, like a molar or canine. Significant milestones like the first tooth to come out could also mean a higher payment to celebrate the occasion.

Encouraging Dental Health

It’s essential to reinforce positive oral hygiene habits in children, and the Tooth Fairy can be an excellent tool to achieve this. Parents can link rewards to tooth care efforts and dental visits to reinforce good oral hygiene habits. For example, if a child brushes their teeth twice a day for a whole week, their Tooth Fairy payment could be more substantial than usual. 


As parents, we go to great lengths to ensure that our children have wonderful memories they can cherish forever. Losing a tooth is one of those milestones that every child goes through, and as parents, we want to make sure it is a special one. One thing that makes the magic of losing a tooth even more special for many children is the tooth fairy. In this blog post, we will discuss the tooth fairy, her role and how much to give your child, and the importance of making sure your child enjoys the experience of losing teeth too.