Parents are reporting that they are becoming more generous playing Tooth Fairy, with the average tooth gift at $2.42 in 2012, up from $2.10 in 2011.
The annual poll is conducted by nonprofit Delta Dental Plans Association, a network of dental service corporations based in Oak Brook, Ill. Over 1,200 primary caregivers were surveyed through email interviews, Delta Dental said.
"When times are tough, parents can't be as generous," said spokesman Bill Hupp. "If the market and economy are improving, parents can afford to give a little more with their tooth fairy donations."
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The tooth fairy may seem like a pleasant publicity opportunity for Delta Dental, but Hupp said it's also a good opportunity for parents to promote good oral health with their kids from a young age - that is, when they are losing their baby teeth.
"The tooth fairy per se is not necessarily about oral health, but parents can say something to the effect of, The tooth fairy would like it if she picks up healthy baby teeth," Hupp said.
Monica Bielanko, a freelancer writer and blogger with the parenting website Babble.com, said some parents overvalue teeth when it comes to what the tooth fairy is dishing.
"Parents have already pretty much lost control of Christmas and Easter. Now the tooth fairy is trying to worm her way into the financial mix?" Bielanko, 35, told ABC News. She recalls receiving coins for her teeth, or "maybe a buck for a molar."
In fact, Bielanko, of Bellefonte, Penn., blogged about this topic on Babble.com in 2011. That's when Sherri Shepherd, co-host of ABC's "The View," tweeted about her 6-year-old son, who lost his first tooth, and expressed shock over some parents who were giving $20 a tooth to their children.
Babble.com and ABC News are both owned by the Walt Disney Corporation.
A mother of a 4-year old daughter and 2-year old son, Bielanko and her husband have discussed giving tooth fairy money to their kids but have not yet waved the wand.
She said they might leave a dollar in quarters for each tooth, sprinkled with glitter.
"We plan to play up the magical angle, not the money angle," she said.
"Tooth fairy visits are about magic and the excitement of being visited by a fairy in the dark of night, not cash," she said. "If your kid is into cold, hard cash, you're doing something wrong. Remember: $2 in quarters is infinitely more exciting to a little kid than a $20 bill."
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