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How did the story of the Tooth Fairy begin? And what's the going rate nowadays?

Good Question: What’s the origin of the Tooth Fairy?
Good Question: What’s the origin of the Tooth Fairy? 02:48

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Every morning, there's probably a kid somewhere eagerly waiting to check underneath their pillow, the fruitful reward from a fairy in search of baby teeth.

Tuesday, Aug. 22, is National Tooth Fairy Day. In light of that, we wanted to know: How did the story of the Tooth Fairy begin? And what's the going rate nowadays? Jeff Wagner learned inflation might be impacting more prices than you think.

The dentist stokes fear in people of all ages, but the thought of losing a tooth as a child is one that often makes youngsters smile.

Many kids at the Minnesota Children's Museum happily showed off the gaps in their grins, evidence of some money made by simply growing up.

After losing a tooth, we asked 7-year-old Zoe the next step.

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"Wipe off the blood," she quickly said. Her follow-up answer was to then put the tooth under her pillow.

Eight-year-old Alex said we the tooth is placed beneath the pillow, "Because the Tooth Fairy comes and takes it and gives me money."

The generous gift varies by household. The kids we talked with received between $1 and $5 per tooth. Their parents however told stories of getting a couple quarters or maybe $1 if they were lucky.

Times sure have changed. Delta Dental surveys 1,000 parents each year. It found the average value of a lost tooth in 2023 sits at $6.23, a number that left many parents wide-eyed and joking that the Tooth Fairy at their homes is helping bring that average down.  


The average jumped nearly a dollar from last year's rate of $5.36.

When the poll started 25 years ago, children were compensated just $1.30 on average by the Tooth Fairy.

"I think economists should pay attention to what the Tooth Fairy is receiving to have some kind of inflationary measure," said parent Daniel.

"Mom and dad can adjust if needed, but I think the Tooth Fairy's rate's probably gonna stay pretty steady," said parent Lacey.

What is the origin of the Tooth Fairy?

"I've heard that it originated from England," said 13-year-old Ash.

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Her answer is not far off. In the 13th century, there's mention of a Norse tradition called "tand fe`" which means "tooth fee." Parents gave kids a small fee for their first lost tooth since they were a symbol of good luck. 

A modern explanation came in 1908. That's when a Chicago Tribune article suggested parents tell their kids of a Tooth Fairy who leaves five cents per tooth to make them more comfortable about losing them.

While it might not eliminate the pain of losing or pulling a tooth, the thought of making money had kids saying it was more fun than scary.

Other countries follow different traditions. Delta Dental said that in Sweden and Argentina, the tooth is left in a glass of water. A Magical Mouse takes the tooth, drinks the water, and leaves behind money.

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