Want a better return on your money but nervous about entering the stock market? For parents, one option might be to put your money where your kid's mouth is and invest in teeth placed under pillows. After all, the Tooth Fairy's average payoff was up 44.6 percent last year.
According to a poll from insurer Delta Dental, the average gift for a displaced tooth climbed last year to $3.50, up from $2.42 in 2012.
As with more traditional investments, the Tooth Fairy can pay off big if you get in early. First-time tooth losers earned more than they did for other teeth in 59 percent of homes. Kids got an average of $4.51for their first tooth, a 29.2 percent increase from last year.
Children in 86 percent of U.S. households get a "visit" from the Tooth Fairy, with cash the overwhelming gift. In 2 percent of homes visited, kids get toys, gum or other gifts.
It is worth noting that, as in the U.S. economy at large, there is substantial inequality in the tooth market. The most common amount left in exchange for a tooth is $1, according to Delta Dental, which means other kids had to get a much larger reward for the average gift to be $3.50. Indeed, 28 percent of kids got $5 or more per lost tooth.
While there are, for now, no bicuspid-backed securities to invest in, the Tooth Fairy poll has been a pretty reliable indicator of the stock market's overall direction. The trend in Tooth Fairy payouts has tracked with the movement of the S&P 500 in 10 of the past 11 years. In 2013, the S&P 500 gained 29.6 percent, its best annual performance since 1997.