Steve Rosen is a columnist for the Kansas City Star. (Jim Barcus/Kansas City Star/TNS)

And you thought the stock market was in full whipsaw mode. It turns out the Tooth Fairy is going through mood swings, too.

Yes, for the second consecutive year, Tooth Fairy giving has slumped, with the nationwide average payout down to $3.70 for a lost tooth. That’s a 10 percent drop, or 43 cents, from a year ago, according to a just released poll by the keeper of the data, the Delta Dental Plans Association. Two years ago, the average payout stood at $4.66.

I’d say that’s a bear market, or at least a stingy one.

Delta Dental has been tracking Tooth Fairy annual giving for more than two decades. For this year’s survey, the company polled 1,058 parents of children ages 6 to 12 on their lost tooth spending habits. The survey was conducted in early January.

The data also seems to track the economic mood of the country, as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index, according to Delta Dental. The benefits company says Tooth Fairy giving has been in unison with the movement of the S&P for 14 of the past 17 years. This past year, for example, the S&P declined about 3 percent, not quite as steep as Tooth Fairy payouts.

What’s the going rate for lost teeth in your house?

For comparisons, Delta Dental said kids in the West receive the most money averaging $4.19, the survey said. The average cash payout in the South amounts to $3.91, while kids in the Northeast generally find $3.70 under their pillow.

Midwestern kids receive the lowest amount, $2.97, according to the survey. Indeed, the going rate for a lost tooth in the Midwest is down $1.07 from two years ago.

Of the parents surveyed, 48 percent said their children choose to save their Tooth Fairy earnings.

If you’re new to making financial gifts for lost teeth, here are some suggestions:

*Whatever amount you opt to pay, be consistent. And remember, payments to the first child will set the standard for any other kids in your family.

*Consider making payments with different currency or coins — for example, a $2 bill or quarters from the U.S. Mint’s state quarters series.

*Beware of double dipping. In my household, the Tooth Fairy left a monetary gift under my daughter’s pillow one time but forgot to take the tooth. The next night, she put the tooth under the pillow again, and earned a second payment.

If your kids like the Tooth Fairy, they might really like the Binky Fairy, who leaves gifts for those little ones who give up that comforting possession. I’ve even heard stories of the Binky Fairy delivering a doll or action figure as a reward.

There’s a potential payout in all this fun for parents: With any luck, the anticipated arrival of the Tooth or Binky fairy just might help get your kids to bed early.

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Night news editor

I am night news editor of the Lincoln Journal Star.

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