Forget the financial experts or the Dow index. If you want to know what’s really going on with the state of the US economy, ask the Tooth Fairy.

According to the Original Tooth Fairy poll of 1,300 parents conducted by the Delta Dental Plans Association, the average gift from the mythical hoarder of baby teeth is now $2.10 — 42 cents less than in 2010.

The 17 percent drop represents one of the largest declines since the poll began in 1998, and it matches the largely-stagnant stock market last year.

“Like many Americans, the Tooth Fairy needed to tighten her belt in 2011, but she’s hopeful for a recovery this year,” said Chris Pyle, speaking for the nonprofit industry group. “Like the Tooth Fairy, we at Delta Dental are hopeful for better economic news in 2012.”

Additional findings found that 90 percent of those surveyed said their kids still get visits from the Tooth Fairy, the first tooth children lose is typically rewarded highest, and the most common gift amount is $1.

[LiveScience]