What is it with us and teeth? Why do we have such a reputation for knackered gnashers?
An article in the Guardian this week highlights some issues that suggest we're in danger of living up to our British stereotype of brown, substandard smiles.
Children are eating more than their bodies need. We’re all masticating slowly toward a sweeter diet, fuelled by obliging businesses super sizing and BOGOFing - the obvious byproduct of that overconsumption being an added assault on our teeth.
But we can’t just lay the blame at business. What about our own health and oral hygiene routines? Are we brushing for two minutes, twice a day and eating an apple a day to keep the dentist away? Apparently not.
The faculty of dental surgery report on the state of children’s oral health in England reports that almost a third of five-year-olds are suffering from tooth decay, and it’s the single most common reason why five to nine-year-olds are admitted to hospital. An extremely worrying trend for the future generations.
So an increase in consumption and a reduction in oral health creates the decay. But how are we going to fill it? The NHS?
Owen Jones’ article in the Guardian talks of the decay of NHS dentistry, with underinvestment, a lack of practices and rip-off charges. With increased demand for cosmetic dentistry, it’s easy to see why NHS patients could be left sitting in the dentist’s waiting room.
But that's just it. If we need something done, we’ll just pay for it, right?
If you’re able to afford it, sure. But for many, dental treatment is deemed a luxury, and routine trips to the dentist seen as unnecessary. Last year saw the greatest rise in DIY dentistry across Britain with people attempting to not only avoid NHS charges for necessary treatments, but seek out 'on the cheap’ cosmetic treatments too.
The rise in demand for cosmetic products is something we’ve experienced as an agency. Last year we helped launch a new product, INSTAsmile in the UK and US. INSTAsmile clip-on veneers act an alternative to permanent veneers, allowing consumers to effectively cover their own teeth to present a fuller, more perfect smile. They’re a fraction of the price of permanent veneers and are delivered to you in just 3 weeks. The consumer demand for INSTAsmile in both markets has been phenomenal and looks set to continue.
So, do we as a nation want to continue to be known for our gammy gums?
For those able to make a change, it seems not. The take up in permanent, temporary and even DIY cosmetic procedures in the last few years suggests we want to do something about it. As a nation we’ve recognised we’re unhappy with our teeth. We’ve learnt not to live with something and that actually, if we want to, we can change how we look (and not be ashamed of it). How terribly unBritish.
And that’s accurate. The relationship between confidence, happiness, success and a perfect smile is one borrowed from the States - aka The Hollywood Smile.
Certainly from our own experience, the cosmetic dental industry is one set to continue to grow in the UK for many years to come - treatments will become more socially acceptable and brands will refine and develop affordable, safe product and treatment alternatives. As a result, we'll see more improved smiles.
For traditional dental health and hygiene issues, as with many general health issues, the long term fix lies in the importance of education and routine instilled at an early age.