The Tooth Fairy

Archived Q&A and Reviews

What if her friends get more than she does?

March 2009

I was somewhat comforted reading the archives on this subject, until it occurred to me that those replies may have been from years ago. Is $1 still a reasonably common amount for the tooth fairy to leave? We started out giving my daughter a gold dollar coin for her teeth, but she asked us to swap the coin for a bill in the morning, so now the tooth fairy leaves a dollar bill. The problem is that her classmates seem to receive considerably more-- ranging from $2 to $20 (!!) per tooth. Each child writes a little something about losing their teeth for a class tooth book which is why I can see that it is not my daughter's imagination that she is receiving less than the average.

I could make my peace with this very easily except for my daughter's belief in the magic of the tooth fairy. This morning she seemed so disappointed to see that the tooth fairy had left her a dollar (apparently our efforts to fold the dollar in a fancy way did nothing to help). She tells me she was hoping the tooth fairy would leave as much for her as for her friends and can't seem to imagine why she would be slighted by the fairy. I asked if there was anything special she wanted more money for, and she glumly said ''no'' and then dropped it. She is rather secretive about it-- seeing this as really between her and the fairy and none of my concern.

I'm considering dropping some big hints about the real origin of this dollar, but I hate to kill the magic of the tooth fairy for her. So, this is really a two-part question: 1. What's the going rate from the tooth fairy? and 2. If you give less than the average in your community & your child believes in the tooth fairy (or Santa, or the Easter Bunny, or whatever), how do you help your child accept the inequality without feeling that it reflects a lack of love from the magical creature? How do you reassure a child that the Tooth Fairy loves her teeth just as much as her classmate's, even though said classmate gets 20 times the cash for the same tooth? -Mother of a Dejected Toothless Girl

We gave $5 for the first tooth and between $2-4 for all subsequent teeth. As far as the different ways the tooth fairy behaves in other homes, we explained to our kids that we filled out a form at the hospital when they were born that asked our preferences about the tooth fairy, easter bunny, etc. This explains why the tooth fairy leaves the kids' teeth on my bedside table (with a bit of fairy dust as well) and other kids have their teeth taken away. Also explains the monetary differences. It's worked for us so far and my kids are 7 and 10. White Lie Teller

I'm not sure this will compete with the overly generous parents giving out $20 bills (lame...), but maybe use a $2 bill? It's cheap enough to not be excessive, but unusual enough to seem special. Rich Fife

Dear Tooth Fairy-Have glass of wine and be creative about the BUCK-give a couple pieces of gum and a nice letter explaining that you are trying to help the other teeth fallout. They have 28 teeth, she'll be rich. Throw some fairy dust in. Complain about wings and rain when you ''can't deliver'' and occasionally give some other bauble- Tatoos (fairies perhaps?) a sparkly jewel hair tie. Our tooth fairy has sent the letter with the SANDMAN as she couldn't fly(wet wings) she has brought gold dollars-two dollar bills, packs of gum and an occasional toy(small, because she's small) MY boys love the letters and the buck is anon-issue-have fun, be creative and the money aspect will be minimized... Tooth Fairy Magic

Maybe you can say that the tooth fairy honors the values of each family. In your family, you value hard work, or love, or honesty, or whatever it is that you value, and the tooth fairy honors that. So she may bring $20 to the family that focuses on money, but your family doesn't do that. Because that's the truth here, right? You could pay more than $1 a tooth (even if you're in tough shape financially, you could probably swing it--it's not that many teeth). But those aren't your values. Your values are that $1 is reasonable--and it certainly is. It doesn't matter if other parents treat lost teeth like lottery tickets. Your family doesn't. Stick by your values with confidence. My tooth fairy brought quarters and I'm just fine

Your post was heart-breaking. I read it to my husband, and we came up with an idea:The tooth Fairy continues to put one or two dollars under the pillow, and another sum of money (5,10,18$...whatever makes sense to you) in either a college fund for your child, or in a charity fund for a needy child (or puppy..i.e. spca). The tooth fairy can then leave a note with the next gift explaining where the ''rest'' of the money is going (and perhaps remarking on your child's generosity, intelligence, bright future, whatever makes sense). If it's a charity, the tooth fairy can leave an appropriate photo or ''thank you'' card from the charity. As for the second part of your question - how much to leave...My child is too young to be losing teeth yet, but I anticipate that the tooth fairy will be leaving her shiny one dollar coins. I think anything over a dollar or two is ridiculous, unless it is going into a special fund (see above.) Good luck. fan of a frugal Tooth Fairy

I think that $20 for a lost tooth is absolutely ridiculous! I would continue to leave what you have always left for lost teeth and let it go. We leave gold dollars too, and our kids love love love it. Anon

I give $1. My daughter just lost her nineth tooth, and hasn't believed in the tooth fairy since her second tooth, when she decided the whole tooth fairy concept was just completely implausible (same with Santa). When she reports other kids receiving more $, I let her know that maybe those kids' parents just prioritize their money differently and that she gets plenty money and presents without waiting for a tooth to fall out. -- a mom

We give $1. No complaints from the kids. I don't know if they compare amounts at school or not, they haven't mentioned it. Oakland Mom

We give one dollar. And we got the same question as to the payout disparity between families. We answer by saying the tooth fairy knows what amount our family feels is fair, so she knows to give one dollar. My kids always bought that one. So, it is a good line or I'm a good liar!

I've always given my daughters (9 & 7) a gold ''Sacajawea'' dollar coin from the tooth fairy, and they've always been happy with it. They know it's a special kind of coin that only the tooth fairy has (I don't use them), and I'll sometimes leave a special gift too-- I found fairy books in the Target dollar bin and stocked up... but I also always leave a note. My kids delight in the idea that their tooth is to be carved into a tiny ball for the baby forest animals to play with...or something similar. I don't think the kids need more than a dollar. Certainly don't give more at the beginning, because the price can never drop! You'd have to increase the amount each time, if anything. Stick with a dollar. heidileeross [at]

Maybe have the tooth fairy write her a special note, or don't leave money. Leave foreign money, or a book, or something else that's special. It's more work but more special... the tooth fairy can write a note to her about why she gets $1 (the rest of the money is donated to kids who really need it? She thinks the other kids will be donating money? She got mixed up?) I was so mortified by the possibility of comparing money (and there's no frigging way I'm leaving $20 for a 6-yr-old, who has 8 teeth to lose--that's $160!! and if they still believe in the TF later, there's a lot more money to lose... That's blatant commercialism in my book, and I'm not competing with that either.), that I started writing notes from the tooth fairy. (see ''Dear Tooth Fairy'' book, which would be a good one for her to base it on). Our tooth fairy tells our daughter about people from all parts of the world, and about the world of fairies. It's entertaining if a bit time-consuming for me too. Maybe even stamps would be a good thing for the toothfairy to bring? Different pictures? Stamps from different countries?

I feel for you because we are in the same boat except that my daughter is probably older. We give $1 for front teeth and $2 for molars although I don't know how we got started on the higher amount. She has a good friend that gets $10 per tooth so it is hard to explain how things could be different except to say that there is no tooth fairy and that her parents give her more (Many times I would just like to say that). This is an excellent question and I hope to hear some good retorts. I guess my main comment would be that we don't bend to paying more and say ''some fairies have more money to spare than others'' - I mean, really, what else can you say? Anon

Going rate for lost teeth (8 yr olds)

Jan 2005

The tooth fairy has always left kids $1.00 for lost teeth in my extended family, but my 8 year old son has been complaining that all his friends get $5-$10 per tooth. So I need advice about what the ''going rate'' is and then what to do with his older brother (age 12) who will feel that anything more than what he got is an example of us favoring his younger brother more. Nancy

We give one shiny Sacajawea dollar (the gold one) for each tooth. Our son is 6.5 yo and has been losing teeth since his 6th birthday, pretty much. He has a nice collection of shiny gold in his bank. Laurel

I just wanted to encourage you, and others, to resist the general price inflation for everything from allowances to teeth. Kids don't value anything that comes too easily, and just because the wealthy parents of some classmates are handing out $20 bills for teeth doesn't mean that your tooth fairy has to do the same. There's a great rant on the subject in the book the Three Martini Playdate in which she suggests using those great $1 gold coins as tooth fairy gifts. They're special (gold!) and affordable. I remember when i was a kid, I got 25! cents per tooth, saved the money from each tooth, and when I'd lost my last tooth bought myself a hat I liked with the few dollars I'd accrued. Granted, that's the kind of kid I was, but I also think there's something to be said for encouraging kids to save up for something they want, soemthing they can only do when you give them LESS rather than more money. nelly

What's the going rate for the tooth fairy these days?

June 2004

What do people give for a lost tooth these days? I remember getting a quarter under my pillow when I was little, but I'm sure things have changed since then! I'd be interested in hearing all kinds of answers, whether or not they involve money. Lauren

oh I love the tooth fairy and was so mad when a friend spilled the beans to my son. Anyway a good friend introduced us to the idea of different tooth fairies.... a money fairy, a nature fairy, and so on. For the first tooth we gave a crystal in a little tooth pouch and a sparkly note of congratulations. Later all he wanted was the money fairy and he got a gold dollar a few times. oh and this american life on npr had a great segment on the tooth fairy a few years ago in which they asked kids what the tooth fairy did with the can find it on their website I think it was called ''Kid logic''. tooth fairy lover

The post office machines give gold dollar coins as change - I use those to great success. Mom

To a small child losing her first tooth, a quarter can be a big deal. (Don't give little kids $5.00 bills and stuff; it will just make them blase.) My daughter started out with quarters. As she got older, I had her decorate a small box (a match box-- remember them?--works well) with wrapping paper and glitter or whatever to house the precious tooth and receive the precious money. I also started adding small treasures to the quarter: a nice, shiny hunk of rose quartz or a piece of jewelry.

The biggest hit, though, were the messages from the Tooth Fairy, written in genuine fairy runes on tiny rolled-up scrolls; astrological symbols and made-up things will do. I would then translate the message, which usually stated that my daughter was a wonderful girl who was taking good care of her teeth. (She's saved all these small treasures and messages.) Melanie

I think about a dollar a tooth. Instead of a dollar bill, maybe you can get dollar coins to be a bit different.

We have a very special tooth fairy who gifts our children with a Sacagawea golden dollar coin. for each lost tooth. Our boys had never seen them before and we never get them as change so it's an incredibly exciting gift for them! They refuse to spend them when they empty their piggy banks as they are too special! Our tooth fairy also sprinkles fairy dust around her 'entry and exit' point sort of 'foot prints' of her visit.

We have beautiful tooth boxes that hold perfectly this coin, which magically replaces that lost tooth. So far at age 8, our twins completely believe and so does their little brother! I bought mine from the US Mint website, but I'm sure banks have some on hand. Enjoy! Karen

The tooth fairy left a two-dollar bill one time that was such a hit! It's being saved ''for forever''. Second favorite was a set of old-style Chinese coins the TF had picked up on Clement Steet. Enjoy! Sooz

The tooth fairy gives ''gold dollars'' (dollar coins) in our house (one for one tooth), and our tooth losing kids are now 6 and 8. Some of their friends get more money (I heard $5 from one child!), but our kids are quite happy with their gold dollars. Orinda tooth fairy

I know kids who are getting anywhere between $.50-$5. Other items I have heard of: decorative pencils/pens, stickers, books, hair accessories, party bag type toys, candy, matchbox cars. There are lots of variables... age (I know kids between 4-12yo who are loosing teeth), gender, day of the week (On Weds. may not be able to do more than change in pocket...) etc. I think you should decide what will work well for your family, and go from there. It may be worth making a bigger deal for first or last tooth vs. all the rest. Personally, I am a fan of keep it simple... there are a lot of those baby teeth! Everybody's tooth fairy is different

$2 a tooth has worked well for us. jewel

How to store 1st lost tooth

May 2004

Our daughter has her first loose tooth and she is very excited. While the Tooth Fairy will certainly whisk it away in the middle of the night when the time comes, my husband and I would like to keep this tooth (like we have a lock of her hair after her first haircut). What do you recommend for storing the baby tooth? Thanks! Lori

Our pediatric dentist recommended placing it in an airtight container with mineral oil. We used a small plastic container with a lid that screws on. Judy

This isn't very sentimental, but we just kept it in an empty film canister, with a label on it! My son has kept all the subsequent lsot teeth in another one. Another idea - When my son had a tooth extracted, the dentist put it into a small plastic ''treasure chest''. You could ask if your dentist has something like that. R.K.

What do you do with the baby teeth?

July 2002

Not that this is a major issue - but I was just wondering... What do others do with baby teeth bought by the tooth fairy? When my little darling lost his first baby tooth - it seemed like such a big deal. A true sign that my precious baby was growing up! I hated to just throw away such a tangible piece of his childhood. Well, now I have quite a collection and I'm beginning to wonder what I'm saving them for. I doubt they'll be meaningful to him as an adult. Do most people just toss them in the trash - or are there other ideas? Thanks. --- Joyce

Well, I may be weird but I don't throw them away. I have a few of my own teeth; the 4 huge wisdom teeth are my favorite. I happen to have all my mother's baby teeth, which her mother saved in a San Antonio, Texas bank deposit envelope 50+ years ago!! Amazing huh? I think the teeth are beautiful and interesting. I keep my son's teeth in a little velvet box--he has lost 7. I don't know why I keep them exactly, but it has never actually occurred to me to do otherwise. Come to think of it, I collect lots of weird little things..... ;)

There is a sweet picture book called ''Throw your Tooth on the Roof'' about tooth lore around the world. Nothing especially deep, just a survey of traditions around children loosing teeth. Claire D.

Don't throw the teeth away! I know it's tempting...but I did throw them out with my older child and (1) she discovered one in the trash and was furious and very hurt (ok, she's sensitive, but...) and (2) I actually can imagine it'd be kind of fun and comforting to look at those little teeth and remember how small they were when that sweet young child turns into a surly teenager. Sabrina

I suggest you give the teeth back to the child maybe in a box or a pouch. This is only if you think the time for the Tooth Fairy has passed. I kept my own baby teeth for years and thought they were kind of fascinating. Many of them fell apart eventually but I still have a couple in a jewelry box. Jenine

My father kept all our teeth, and offered them to us when we grew up. My brother was happy to have them when he went off to dental school. I keep our kids' teeth in tiny ziplock bags -- one bag per kid. My son was tickled to see them after he learned there was no tooth fairy. Leslie

Joyce - I made a little decorated ''tooth box/altar box'' and gave it to my daughter when she turned 13. Andrea

My mom kept all my and my sister's baby teeth in little plastic vials, one for each of us. When I was about 8 my sister and I, the terrible snoops that we were, found our baby teeth in my mom's drawer. That erased any fantasies about the Tooth Fairy right then and there! My mom laughs about it now, and I still have a little plastic vial somewhere with my baby teeth. I don't know about anyone else, but I was just as interested in them as I was my baby pictures as I was growing up. If your child doesn't want them later, they can always be thrown out. Gayle