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Social Media and the Rise of Cosmetic Dental Treatments

With the rise of social media, there has been a dramatic increase in demand for cosmetic dental treatments. With direct access to celebrity and influencer profiles who all appear to have ‘the perfect smile’, shifts in people’s self-image have created a surge in patients seeking cosmetic treatments. This may be reflective of online trends and a greater emphasis placed on aesthetics and appearance.

Apps like Snapchat and Instagram have introduced the use of ‘filters’ that further encourage concerns over self-image issues – filters are designed to dramatically alter your appearance or give you the ‘desired’ look. Filters can be fun, but engaging with them or celebrity culture obsessively can lead to anxiety and depression in extreme cases. It is this type of engagement that is one of the driving causes behind increased interest in cosmetic treatments such as tooth whitening and veneers, Dentistry claims.

Whilst cosmetics is an exciting developing area of dentistry that restores patients with their self-confidence whilst improving the appearance of their smile, there are also concerns for the unrealistic expectations that ‘selfie culture’ has created. The following post highlights the rise of social media and cosmetic dental treatments, and aims to underline some of the risks associated with these procedures.

Statistics from the Oral Health Foundation indicate that the UK cosmetic dental industry is booming – currently valued at £2.2 billion, it is predicted to increase by a further 8% in 2021. Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, states, “For many of us, the appearance of our smile has taken a much greater priority over recent years…There is little doubt that as a population, we are becoming more in-tune and aware of our options when it comes to cosmetic dentistry.”

With the demand for cosmetic procedures on the rise, what are some of the most common treatments for achieving a straighter, whiter smile?

Cosmetic dental treatments usually fall into three main categories – tooth restoration, teeth whitening and tooth straightening (also known as orthodontics).

  • Tooth-coloured composite fillings

For over 150 years, fillings have been made out of a silvery coloured material called amalgam. However, with the oral health priorities of patients recently shifting towards appearance, using ‘white’ or ‘tooth-coloured’ composite fillings have become more popular for aesthetic reasons.

However, this type of filling is not always as strong and durable as amalgam ones, and could need replacing after a certain period of time.

  • Veneers

Veneers are a thin layer of porcelain or resin that is placed over damaged or discoloured teeth to restore their appearance. They can also straighten and fix gaps in your teeth.

A popular procedure amongst influencers, veneers will need replacing every 5-10 years and if they are not done properly they may need to be repaired. They are a financial commitment, and if you do not maintain good dental hygiene after the procedure, further treatment may also be needed. Your dentist should thoroughly discuss this with you beforehand, as the procedure will often need to change the structure of your natural teeth by removing the outer layer of your enamel to make room for them. Veneers can also be expensive, and some patients report increased tooth sensitivity.

  • Teeth Whitening

Dentists can professionally whiten your teeth using a gel containing bleach. However, if the treatment isn’t done properly, you run the risk of damaging your teeth with the chemicals and causing increased sensitivity and gum irritation. It isn’t permanent, and so may need to be repeated after a period of time.

  • Teeth Straightening (Orthodontics)

Braces are used to straighten teeth that are crooked, and there are several different types of braces that work in different ways. Braces usually have to be worn for a few months or even years in order to gradually move your teeth by applying pressure, and can be uncomfortable to wear and difficult to clean.

It is important to do thorough research around any type of cosmetic treatment that you may be considering, and to understand that social media has had a great impact on the way we view ourselves, often prioritising appearance over our health.

Like any dental procedure, your dentist should properly explain your options and any risks involved with a specific treatment. It is also possible that procedures can go wrong, and your dentist could be at fault if they fail to carry out their work to a good standard or in their duty of care. If you believe that your dentist has not properly explained the risks of a type of treatment they recommend, or that any pain, discomfort or further treatment to rectify issues may be their fault, you could be eligible to make a claim against them. For legal advice, contact The Dental Law Partnership to find out whether you could be entitled to compensation, or have grounds to make a claim.

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