Girl with a missing tooth, holding some money

Child with a wide smile and a missing front tooth holding and American 5 dollar note.

The tooth fairy is handing over more money for teeth Image: ©

There’s a lot we don’t know about the tooth fairy. We don’t know what they look like, or how they get around, or even what they do with all the teeth they gather. But researchers around the world have been keeping tabs on the finances of this elusive tooth collector.

Fairy finance

In the United States, the Tooth Fairy Poll has been running since 1998. Over that time, the tooth fairy has become much more generous.

Back in 1998, they paid out about $1.30 in United States Dollars per tooth on average. Last year, a tooth was worth $4.13, and although that number has dropped to $3.70 this year, that’s still a big increase overall.

That means the price of teeth has increased an average of 5.1% per year in the United States since the research began. Research in the United Kingdom reveals a similar result, an average increase of 5.3% per year for 2011 to 2018.

What’s a price index?

The Tooth Fairy Poll is an example of a price index, a tool for measuring how the price of things changes over time. In Australia, the most famous price index is the Consumer Price Index (CPI). You might hear it mentioned by politicians or on the news.

CPI doesn’t just measure the price of one thing. It’s an average that tries to match the things a typical household in an Australian city might buy. The CPI calculation includes things such as groceries, petrol, furniture, clothes, mobile phones and movie tickets.

In general, prices tend to go up more than they go down. Although it might seem annoying, economists think that slowly rising prices are a good thing.

The whole tooth

Over the last decade or so, Australia’s CPI has increased by about 2% per year. Tooth prices in comparable countries are going up a lot faster – around 5% per year.

If the tooth fairy were an average person, this might pose a problem. Relative to other items, they are paying much more for teeth than they used to! But don’t worry, here at Double Helix we think the tooth fairy will still be paying for teeth, long after all ours have fallen out.

More information

Scientists are searching fossils for the very first teeth

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