Tooth Fairy guilty of favouritism!

Med J Aust. 2017 Dec 11;207(11):482-486. doi: 10.5694/mja17.00860.


Objectives: To determine the proportion of children visited by the Tooth Fairy, the child-related factors that influence the likelihood of her visit, and the parent-related variables that affect the amount of money the Tooth Fairy leaves.

Design: Cross-sectional questionnaire study.

Setting: Zürich, Switzerland.

Participants: 3617 parents of children (mean age of children, 6.8 years; 51.9% girls) who had lost at least one deciduous tooth received a self-developed questionnaire; 1274 questionnaires were returned (35.2%).

Main outcome measures: Primary outcome variables were the Tooth Fairy's visit after tooth loss and the amount of money given in case of a visit. Child- and parent-related variables were assessed as predictors of the main outcomes.

Results: Most parents (71.0%) reported that the Tooth Fairy visited their child. She usually exchanged the lost tooth for money (55.8% of visits) or placed money next to the tooth (40.7%); rarely did she take the tooth without pecuniary substitution. The Tooth Fairy left an average of 7.20 Swiss francs (approximately AU$9.45). The Tooth Fairy favoured visiting for the teeth of older children (odds ratio [OR], per year, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.09-3.21), of boys (OR, 2.65; 95% CI, 1.09-6.42), and of children who believed in her (OR, 4.12; 95% CI, 1.77-9.64). The amount of money was influenced by maternal, but not paternal socio-demographic factors, including level of education (OR, per level, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.66-0.92) and country of origin (OR, Western countries v non-Western countries, 2.35; 95% CI, 1.20-4.62).

Conclusions: The Tooth Fairy does not visit all children after tooth loss, displaying clear preferences in her choice of business partners. The odds of a visit are dramatically increased if she is believed in, and the value of a deciduous tooth is influenced by socio-demographic factors.

Keywords: Competition article; Humor.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magic*
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Psychology, Child* / economics
  • Psychology, Child* / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Factors
  • Tooth, Deciduous*