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/ Source: TODAY
By Drew Weisholtz

Tough times for the Tooth Fairy?

According to a new study by Delta Dental, kids received an average of $3.70 per lost tooth last year, down 43 cents from 2017.

In 2016, the Tooth Fairy left an all-time high of $4.66 per tooth, meaning last year marked the second consecutive year the numbers have gone down, indicating the Tooth Fairy's days of philanthropy appear to have ended. Tooth fairy payouts have served as a fairly reliable economic indicator, according to Delta Dental, tracking with the Standard & Poor's 500 Index for 14 out of the past 17 years.

Even though the she (or he) may not be spreading as much wealth these days, plenty of kids are still fattening their wallets with every gap in their smiles. In homes where the Tooth Fairy visits, 37 percent of parents admit giving their child at least $5 for a tooth. Losing a first tooth is another reason for parents to break the bank — they cough up an average of $4.96 for this milestone.

And while the Tooth Fairy may be feeling the pinch, this mythical character continues to be a way for youngsters to learn about the value of money, with 48 percent of parents saying their little ones elect to save the cash they get for their teeth.

Scaling back how much we give children for losing teeth could ultimately provide an important lesson for kids.

“Leaving money for kids under the pillow is a fun time-honored tradition, but we don’t want it to turn into a slippery slope to entitlement,” Amy McCready, founder of PositiveParentingSolutions.com and author of "The 'Me, Me, Me' Epidemic," tells TODAY Parents.

“Usually, the more we give, the more kids want. Keep in mind, giving in to demands for a higher payout from the Tooth Fairy will likely lead to giving in to demands on all sorts of issues down the road — from the hottest new toy, to name-brand clothes, to the latest tech gear,” McCready added.

She also said it’s good to have a strategy when it comes to paying out for a tooth.

“Decide how much your kids get for a lost tooth — and be consistent with that amount through the years. If kids complain that your Tooth Fairy doesn’t leave as much as the neighbor’s Tooth Fairy — smile and ask if they plan to save or spend their Tooth Fairy money — don’t get into the trap of keeping up with the Jones’ tooth fairy.

"And remember, it’s OK (and even good) for kids to be disappointed from time to time.”