According to the Oral Health Foundation, millennials spend three times more on dental treatment than any other generation, amounting to around £750 annually.
Over half of under 35s have had cosmetic treatment, whereas this reduces to just 10% of those in older groups. The most popular of these treatments is teeth whitening.
Of those millennials who haven’t yet had whitening treatment, nearly half plan to do so.
The Foundation attributes this trend to the fact that we associate a smile with beauty, just as much as a bright smile is seen as an aspect of good health.
Whilst of course people of all ages can suffer from tooth loss, gum disease or tooth decay, younger generations experience fewer problems than older people. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the younger generation will opt for cosmetic enhancement as part of their dental care.
Initially, investment in a smile might be attending for regular dental checks, then visits to a dental hygienist for scaling and polishing. This might lead to further treatment, such as making a choice to have cosmetic bonding to fill any unwanted gaps between the teeth.
In the age of ‘celebrity’ and at a time when social media influencers are making people more aware of what is available to enhance appearance, we are tending to consider what impact we might have on others, such as when we attend a job interview or first join a group to meet new people. There’s no doubt that a bright and open smile is an attractive feature, which boosts confidence and encourages connection.
With all this in mind, a few words of caution about whitening are called for. Reports in 2020 indicated that illegal teeth whitening treatments had increased by 26%. Illegal teeth whitening is whitening treatment carried out by someone who is not a registered professional. The reason that it is so important to go to a dentist or dental hygienist for whitening is that the product used contains bleach, and to be effective and produce the results hoped for, the percentage of bleach has to be stronger than over the counter or online products can offer. Only professionals can ensure that the product is used and applied safely, and only professionals can carry out an initial examination to be sure that your teeth can be safely whitened.
So please be aware that the potential damage to your mouth, if you don’t take professional advice, could be painful, costly and permanent. There is nothing to be gained by trying to save money or believe in promises of a quick fix. It is worth knowing that in 2019, half of the online tray-based and whitening strip products on offer were not compliant with safety regulations; neither were a shocking 78% of brush-on whiteners.
It just takes a phone call to your dentist to find out what’s involved in the whitening treatment – what the process is, how long it will take and what you can expect to pay. Many dentists offer free initial consultations. It is well worth investing just a little of your time for the reassurance you need.