Feeling inflation’s pinch? You’re not alone. Even the Tooth Fairy is cringing as she pulls out her wallet, according to the latest research.

According to the latest poll by Delta Dental, the average price for a lost tooth rose 16% in 2022, from $5.36 to $6.23 — a record high in the 24 years that Delta has been doing the poll. In 1998, the company found, a tooth went, on average, for $1.30. 

Bear in mind these are averages, meaning that the Tooth Fairy’s rates vary. In my house, a first tooth recently went for a whopping 20 dollars (because that was the only cash on hand and the tooth fell out, of course, at bedtime); the New York Post offered similar stories.

Subsequent lost teeth go for less — a common phenomenon, of course, that could skew the overall average.

Overall inflation eased a bit in January but price pressures continue

Although 2022 saw the Tooth Fairy pay the most in the South — where a lost tooth fetches $6.59 — the West held that place of distinction in the past. But the West was the region hardest hit by rising tooth prices, experiencing a 53% spike last year, bringing the cost to $6.25.

The Northeast trailed behind at $6.14; coming in dead last was the Midwest, where the Tooth Fairy paid a paltry $5.63, dragging down the national average.

Is inflation behind the Tooth Fairy’s soaring costs? Her rates could indeed be a good indicator of our country’s financial health.

According to Delta Dental, the poll “has typically mirrored the economy’s overall direction,” syncing with the trends exemplified in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. However, Delta Dental noted, last year as tooth prices rose, the Standard & Poor Index went down.

Worldwide, the Tooth Fairy’s colleagues might be a little less vulnerable to economic fluctuations. In fact, in some places, it’s not a fairy, but an animal that collects teeth that children no longer need. In the Philippines, the Tooth Rat plucks children’s lost teeth off of windowsills; in Colombia and South Africa, a mouse collects lost teeth from slippers or scurries under children’s pillows to retrieve them.

This year’s version of Delta Dental’s “Original Tooth Fairy Poll” was conducted by phone in January and included 1,000 parents of children aged 6 to 12.